10 Things You Didn’t Know Were Injection Moulded
Thermoplastic polymers are versatile. They can be softened and moulded into specific shapes, both large and small, simple, and complex, or solidified into a hard density. This makes them ideal for use across the whole manufacturing sector.
Considered to be one of the most cost-effective and time-efficient ways of manufacturing products and parts, plastic injection moulding is the process of melting plastic pellets (or thermosetting) so that they are malleable enough for the molten plastic to assume the shape of the mould.
Injection moulding is achieved with a special purpose machine which has three separate parts: a mould, a clamp, and an injection unit. The versatility of injection moulding is one of the primary reasons why the manufacturing sector is so dependent on the process. Indeed, virtually any product shape and size can be made – provided that you have a mould for it.
So, it should come as little surprise just how many plastic products we use in our day to day lives are injection moulded. Interested in learning just how widespread plastic injection moulding is to a wide spectrum of products in our daily lives? Check out our list of products that simply wouldn’t exist without it.
1. Plastic Bottles
High density polyethylene terephthalate (HDPET) plastic is used to manufacture plastic bottles. From milk to water, cordial to fizzy drinks, this thermoplastic polymer resin is essential to product manufacturing, especially when you think that we use 7.7 billion plastic bottles each year.
Economical, impact resistant and providing an excellent moisture barrier whilst offer superior temperature retention, it’s easy to understand why injection moulded HDPET is favoured when manufacturing plastic bottles.
2. Medical Equipment
Given the importance of swift accessibility to medical equipment to treat patients and administer drugs, reliable plastic polymers for use across the whole medical sector, has never been more important. This is especially true now that the UK is accelerating its COVID-19 vaccine.
With its high chemical resistance, injection moulded polypropylene is commonly used in the manufacture of disposable syringes, non-absorbable sutures, reusable plastic containers, and, of course, pharmacy prescription bottles.
A porous synthetic polymer, polyethylene (PE) does not degrade in the body and is biologically inert. This makes the polymer ideal when manufacturing medical implants.
3. Agricultural OEMs
OEMs (or original equipment manufacturers) provide low-cost alternatives to products and parts that are essential to a wide variety of sectors – with one of the more notable being the agricultural sector.
Plastics offer higher resistance to impacts during use, are resistant to humidity and are well-suited against extreme high or low temperatures.
Injection-moulded polyethylene (PE) polymers are favoured by OEMs because they are durable and flexible. Moreover, UV additives help to protect plastic parts from harsh weather conditions or exposure to corrosive substances, making them a great substitute for traditional, often bespoke metallic product parts across different types of agricultural equipment.
4. Wheelie Bins
Essential to managing and disposing of waste, wheelie bins are made of injection-moulded polyethylene, a robust plastic material that can withstand all manner of acids, alkalis, fungi, and bacteria.
Not only that, but polyethylene is also the perfect material for wheelie bins because the polymer is highly resistant to the British weather and is both tough and durable.
5. Mobile Phones
There are approximately 80 million mobile phones in the UK. Plastic is used in the manufacture of each and every one. Plastic resins, such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, nylon and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) are necessary for both the interior components and exterior design – the most obvious example being mobile phone cases.
Strong, durable, and affording both an interchangeable and often visually creative aesthetic design, injection moulded plastic is essential to a range of components and design features used in the manufacture of mobile phones.
6. Food Packaging
Easily recyclable plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are ubiquitous in food packaging. From drinks bottles to yoghurt pots, microwave meal containers and fresh produce trays, the food industry just wouldn’t be the same without plastic polymers.
Why? Well, not only does PET and HDPET (high-density polyethylene terephthalate) keep food products fresher for longer, but it allows food products to be easily packed, stored, and transported.
Plastic injection moulding is used to manufacture food packaging of all descriptions. Capable of manufacturing food packaging in all shapes and sizes, whilst being flexible, transparent, chemical and heat resistant, plastic injection moulding creates the ideal shapes and sizes for all PET and HDPET food packaging.
7. Cooking Utensils and Crockery
Most of us have an abundance of cooking utensils in the home. They just seem to accumulate over time. From crockery to Tupperware, plates, bowels, whisks, even plates and cups, plastic cooking utensils fill our drawers and cupboards.
Without plastic injection moulding, the appearance of these cooking utensils and crockery would be quite different. Thermoplastics like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP) are easier to maintain and offer improved hygiene, making them ideal for the vast range of cooking utensils and crockery.
8. Automotive Parts
The next time you step behind the wheel, take a quick look at the dashboard, buttons, and general design. You’ll be surrounded by plastics. The exterior design is the same. Only through plastic injection moulding can you create the required shapes needed to meet the car’s exact interior and exterior dimensions.
The most common plastic polymers used in vehicles are polypropylene which is used when manufacturing bumpers, cable insulation, and carpet fibres and polyurethane for the foam seating, insulation panels, suspension bushings and electrical compounds.
9. Computer Components
According to statistics, 99% of homes with two adults and two children have a home computer. 100% of homes with two adults and four of more children have a home computer. It’s safe to say that, no more than ever before, everyone needs a home computer to work, study, relax, and manage our lives.
An increasingly wide range of consumer electronics have a range of plastic resins. From high impact polystyrene (HIPS) to acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), the computer as we know it would look wholly different without plastic polymers.
Every computer brand used parts created from plastic injection moulding in their designs. From the keys to the laptop hinge, mouse pad to internal components, even the internal polycarbonate circuit board, plastic injection moulding is integral to computer designs.
10. Promotional or Point of Sale Signage
High impact polystyrene (HIPS) is a requisite for promotional or point of sale signage displays. Whether you want to clearly advertise special offers or different products to draw customer’s attention, promotional or point of sale signage is sure to get the message across.
Strong and durable, high impact polystyrene can be shaped into different sizes using plastic injection moulding, allowing you to maximise advertising impact.
Plastic Injection Moulding Is Essential
It’s safe to say that the number of diverse products manufactured using plastic injection moulding is substantial. It’s safe to say that without the process, much of what we interact with every day would be of an entirely different aesthetic.
The next time that you take a sip off your bottled water, are sat behind the wheel of your car, or are about to log on for another day working at home with your laptop, remember you’ve got a lot to thank plastic injection moulding for.