Is Injection Moulding Durable?

Injection moulding produces highly durable parts, suitable for high-volume manufacturing and complex designs.

Is Injection Moulding Durable

Factors Affecting the Durability of Injection Moulded Parts

Understanding the variables that contribute to the longevity and durability of injection moulded parts is crucial for optimizing performance and functionality. Here we delve into the factors that play significant roles in determining the durability of these parts.

Material Selection and Its Impact on Durability

Selecting the appropriate material is foundational to ensuring the durability of injection moulded parts. The choice of material affects the part’s strength, flexibility, impact resistance, and environmental degradation.

  • Thermoplastics vs. Thermosetting Polymers: Thermoplastics like polyethylene and polypropylene offer flexibility and high-impact resistance, making them suitable for a variety of applications. On the other hand, thermosetting polymers, such as epoxy resins, provide excellent thermal stability and are ideal for high-temperature applications.
  • Additives and Fillers: The inclusion of UV stabilizers, anti-oxidants, and other additives can significantly improve the lifespan of a part by providing resistance to environmental factors like sunlight and oxidation.
  • Material Grades: High-performance materials like PEEK or Ultem can be more costly but offer superior mechanical properties and longevity compared to standard materials.

The Role of Mould Design in Part Longevity

The mould’s design directly influences the quality and durability of the final product. Complex geometries, wall thickness, and gate locations must all be optimized to ensure consistent material flow and cooling.

  • Wall Thickness: Uniform wall thickness promotes even cooling and reduces the risk of defects such as warping or sink marks that can affect the part’s structural integrity.
  • Gate Design: Proper gate design ensures adequate flow of the molten material into the mould cavity, which can prevent incomplete filling, weld lines, and other issues that may compromise durability.

Processing Conditions and Their Effects on Product Durability

The conditions under which the moulding process occurs are pivotal in achieving parts that last. These conditions include temperature control, pressure, and cycle time.

  • Temperature Control: Precise temperature management prevents material degradation and ensures that the material crystallizes appropriately, which is essential for the part’s mechanical properties.
  • Injection Pressure: Correct pressure settings ensure that the material fills the mould completely and with the necessary force to produce a dense, robust part.
  • Cycle Time: Optimal cycle times allow for proper cooling and solidification of the part, which is critical for achieving the desired mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy.

Post-Moulding Operations and Treatment

Post-moulding operations can further enhance or detract from the durability of injection moulded parts. These include processes such as annealing, painting, or plating.

  • Annealing: This controlled process of heating and cooling can reduce internal stresses within the part, thus improving its dimensional stability and resistance to cracking.
  • Surface Treatments: Various coatings or surface treatments can provide additional resistance to abrasion, chemicals, or UV radiation, extending the life of the part.
  • Assembly and Joining Techniques: The methods used to join moulded parts to other components, such as ultrasonic welding or adhesive bonding, must be compatible with the material and use-case to avoid compromising part integrity.


Assessing the Durability of Injection Moulded Products

The assessment of durability in injection moulded products involves a series of tests and evaluations that focus on the mechanical properties, chemical resistance, environmental stress factors, and the overall lifecycle and fatigue resistance of the products.

Mechanical Properties and Resistance to Wear

Determining the wear resistance and mechanical properties of injection moulded parts is essential for predicting their performance in real-world applications. Manufacturers often conduct tests to measure:

  • Tensile Strength: For instance, a polycarbonate part may exhibit a tensile strength of 9,800 psi, indicating its ability to withstand pulling forces without breaking.
  • Impact Resistance: A material like ABS might have an impact resistance of 3.1 ft-lb/in², showcasing its capacity to absorb energy without deforming.
  • Hardness: A specific grade of nylon could have a Rockwell hardness of 118, making it suitable for gears and bearings that require durability.

Chemical Resistance of Moulded Parts

Chemical resistance is crucial for parts that will be exposed to aggressive substances:

  • Resistance Ratings: Parts made from polypropylene can often withstand a wide range of chemicals, sustaining their integrity even when in contact with acidic or basic solutions over extended periods.
  • Compatibility Charts: Detailed compatibility charts provide insights, stating that a component made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) can resist gasoline for years, which is vital for automotive fuel system components.

Environmental Stress Resistance (Temperature, UV, etc.)

The ability to resist environmental stress is a determining factor for the lifespan of a product:

  • Temperature Tolerance: Materials like PEEK can withstand continuous use at temperatures up to 480°F (250°C), ensuring performance in high-temperature environments.
  • UV Resistance: Acrylic parts may have a UV resistance that allows for up to 10 years of exposure without significant degradation, which is essential for outdoor applications.
  • Moisture Absorption: ABS has a moisture absorption rate of only 0.2%, maintaining dimensional stability even in humid conditions.

Lifecycle and Fatigue Analysis of Injection Moulded Parts

Lifecycle and fatigue analysis predict the long-term behavior of parts under cyclic loading:

  • Fatigue Life: A typical polyamide (Nylon) component may have a fatigue life of over 1,000,000 cycles under a specific load, making it an excellent choice for dynamic applications.
  • Stress Testing: Stress testing reveals that a part can maintain its integrity up to a certain point, for example, sustaining a load of 150 pounds before showing signs of stress whitening.
  • End-of-Life Criteria: By determining the exact parameters that lead to failure, such as a crack growth rate of 0.1 inches per 10,000 cycles, manufacturers can accurately predict service life and schedule maintenance or replacements to avoid failures.

Enhancing the Durability of Injection Moulded Parts

The enhancement of durability in injection moulded parts is a multi-faceted process, where every adjustment can lead to significant improvements in performance and lifespan. Several strategies can be employed to extend the durability of these parts, from material engineering to processing techniques.

Material Additives and Composite Materials

Introducing additives and reinforcing fibers into plastics can substantially increase the strength and longevity of injection moulded parts.

  • Impact Modifiers: Adding 5% by weight of impact modifiers to polycarbonate can increase its notch impact strength by up to 50%, making it more resistant to sudden impacts.
  • Fiber Reinforcements: Incorporating 30% glass fiber to nylon can enhance its tensile strength by over 80%, reaching values around 20,000 psi, thus improving its load-bearing capacity.
  • Nanocomposites: The addition of nanoscale fillers can enhance the thermal and mechanical properties, such as increasing the heat deflection temperature by 10-15°C, which is crucial for components subjected to high temperatures.

Innovative Moulding Techniques for Improved Durability

Employing advanced moulding techniques can lead to parts with superior mechanical properties and extended lifetimes.

  • Gas-Assist Injection Moulding: This technique can improve the surface finish and dimensional stability, while also reducing the weight of the part by approximately 20%, without compromising its strength.
  • Overmoulding: Integrating a soft thermoplastic elastomer onto a rigid substrate can yield parts with improved shock absorption and a lifespan increase of up to 25% in demanding applications.

Coatings and Surface Treatments to Enhance Performance

Surface treatments and coatings can provide a protective barrier, enhancing the part’s resistance to environmental factors.

  • Hard Coatings: Applying a hard coating on polycarbonate lenses can increase their scratch resistance to a level where it passes the EN 166 standard, indicating that no damage occurs at a weight of 45g falling from 1.3 meters.
  • Plasma Treatments: Surface activation through plasma treatments can improve the bonding strength by up to 35% when adhesives are used, ensuring the integrity of joined components.

Preventive Maintenance and Care for Moulds

Regular maintenance of moulds is critical to ensure the consistent quality of injection moulded parts.

  • Cleaning Schedules: Implementing a cleaning schedule for the mould that includes inspections every 10,000 cycles can prevent defects in parts that could decrease their lifespan by up to 20%.
  • Lubrication Protocols: Adequate lubrication of moving parts can reduce wear and tear, potentially increasing the mould’s lifespan by thousands of cycles, ensuring precise and consistent part production.

Preventive Maintenance and Care for Moulds

Case Studies: Durability in Action

The practical application of injection moulding has produced numerous success stories across various industries.

Long-Life Consumer Products Made Through Injection Moulding

Consumer products often demand durability to withstand daily use and wear. A case in point is the production of high-endurance storage containers.

  • Storage Containers: A leading brand introduced storage bins made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with a 15-year lifespan guarantee. With a tensile strength of 3,600 psi and an impact resistance that allows it to sustain drops from 1.5 meters without cracking, these containers showcase the durability achievable through careful material selection and design for longevity.

Industrial Applications of Durable Injection Moulded Components

In the industrial sector, components must resist extreme conditions and heavy usage.

Automotive Bushings: An automotive company switched to using injection moulded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) for their suspension bushings, resulting in a component that lasted over 200,000 cycles under load, far surpassing the 100,000 cycles of the previously used rubber bushings. This change not only improved durability but also reduced vibration and noise, enhancing vehicle performance.

Breakthroughs in Medical Device Manufacturing with Injection Moulding

The medical industry benefits significantly from the high precision and cleanliness of injection moulded parts.

Surgical Instrument Handles: A breakthrough in medical device manufacturing came with the use of polysulfone (PSU) for surgical instrument handles. The high-performance polymer withstands over 1,000 autoclave cycles without significant loss of mechanical properties, ensuring a combination of durability and sterilization compliance critical for medical applications.

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