What role does moulded plastic play in electronics manufacturing?
Modern electronics have revolutionised how we live and work. From the moment your alarm buzzes in the morning to the second you switch your light off at night, electronic products are all around.
This proliferation would have been impossible without plastic. Plastic is used by electronics manufacturers to make products safer, lighter, quieter, greener and more durable.
It can do all of this because it has an impressive range of physical properties, including:
- Electrical insulation
We all know that electricity can be deadly, even at household currents.
Because plastic does not conduct electricity, it makes a very good barrier between electricity and user. Some kinds of plastic are particularly useful for electrical wiring and in goods where there’s a high risk of electric shock.
- Heat insulation
Heat is another potential danger with electronics. From industrial machinery to toasters, many electronic products become very hot when in use. Electrical appliances are also responsible for more than 50% of accidental household fires.
Because plastic is a poor conductor of heat, the material can be used for ‘touch-points’ on certain products. Manufacturers can also use special flame-proof additives to prevent or reduce the impact of fires.
For the vast majority of electronic products, the trend has been to become lighter and lighter over the years.
Many handheld devices now use lightweight metals like aluminium alloys to cut down on weight, but plastic is also used inside and outside devices to save on weight.
Unlike metals and organic materials, plastic doesn’t corrode or rot. It’s also very strong and some types of plastic are oil and acid resistant, so they can be used in all sorts of different environments.
Hygiene is a key with products used in healthcare and care settings. Plastic is very easy to clean and can be constructed without seams, which can harbour germs and dirt.
Manufacturing plastic products uses less energy compared to other materials like metal or wood. The per unit of manufacturing and assembling plastic products is also significantly cheaper.
While plastic recycling is still in its infancy, organisations are developing new ways to increase plastic recycling from electronic products.
Plastic injection moulding for electronic products
Today, most electronic products have a plastic housing or plastic parts. As in other industries, one of the best ways to manufacture large numbers of plastic electronic products is with injection moulding.
What is plastic injection moulding?
Plastic injection moulding is a manufacturing process that uses heated plastic and a high pressure injection system to create identical plastic products quickly. A high proportion of all plastic electronic products – both large and small – are manufactured using injection moulding.
How does plastic injection moulding work?
Put simply, thermoplastic pellets are heated until the plastic melts. Molten plastic is then injected into a mould and cooled rapidly so that the plastic hardens. When the plastic is set, the product is ejected from the mould and more plastic is injected in.
Injection moulding machines use a heated barrel and a reciprocating screw to ensure there’s a continuous supply of molten plastic to be injected into the moulds.
Plastic injection moulding can use a number of thermoplastics. Some of the most common thermoplastics used include:
- Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
- Nylon (PA)
- Polycarbonate (PC)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polystyrene (GPPS)
Why choose plastic injection moulding for your electronics project?
Plastic injection moulding has a number of advantages for electronic product manufacturing. These can be split into two main groups of design advantages and manufacturing advantages.
When it comes to creating electronic products, designers are limited by manufacturing technology.
Injection moulding makes plastic products and components very easy to design and manufacture, giving designers more freedom and allowing them to push boundaries when brining new products to market.
Injection moulding can be used to produce plastic products in all sorts of different shapes, colours, transparencies and textures. You can also use a vast range of additives to give plastic products special properties.
Plastic injection moulding is ideal for high volume manufacturing, allowing manufacturers to create very large numbers of products quickly.
Because injection moulding is less resource and labour-intensive than other high volume manufacturing processes, the per-unit costs associated with injection moulding are low.
Once moulds are created, they can be used time and again to create identical products with a low degree of tolerance. This is particularly useful for small or fiddly components such as LEDs, electrical relays and instrument parts.
For more information about plastic injection moulding for electronic products or to discuss a project, speak to a member of the team today. Call: 0161 477 2800.