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Shrinkage and warpage

Whydotheyoccur?
Shrinkage is inherent in the injection molding process. Shrinkage occurs because the
density of polymer varies from the processing temperature to the ambient temperature
(see Specific volume (pvT diagram)). During injection molding, the variation in
shrinkage both globally and through the cross section of a part creates internal
stresses. These socalled residual stresses (see Residual stress) act on a part with
effects similar to externally applied stresses. If the residual stresses induced during
molding are high enough to overcome the structural integrity of the part, the part will
warp upon ejection from the mold or crack with external service load.

Shrinkage
Theshrinkageofmoldedplasticpartscanbeasmuchas20percentbyvolume,whenmeasuredat
theprocessingtemperatureandtheambienttemperature.Crystallineandsemicrystalline
materialsareparticularlypronetothermalshrinkageamorphousmaterialstendtoshrinkless.
Whencrystallinematerialsarecooledbelowtheirtransitiontemperature,themoleculesarrange
themselvesinamoreorderlyway,formingcrystallites.Ontheotherhand,themicrostructureof
amorphousmaterialsdoesnotchangewiththephasechange.Thisdifferenceleadstocrystalline
andsemicrystallinematerialshavingagreaterdifferenceinspecificvolume( )betweentheir
meltphaseandsolid(crystalline)phase.ThisisillustratedinFigure1below.We'dliketopoint
outthatthecoolingratealsoaffectsthefastcoolingpvTbehaviorofcrystallineandsemi
crystallinematerials.

FIGURE1.ThepvTcurvesforamorphousandcrystallinepolymersandthespecificvolumevariation(
)
betweentheprocessingstate(pointA)andthestateatroomtemperatureandatmosphericpressure(point
B).Notethatthespecificvolumedecreasesasthepressureincreases.

Causesofexcessivepartshrinkage
Excessiveshrinkage,beyondtheacceptablelevel,canbecausedbythefollowingfactors.The
relationshipofshrinkagetoseveralprocessingparametersandpartthicknessisschematically
plottedinFigure2.
lowinjectionpressure

shortpackholdtimeorcoolingtime
highmelttemperature
highmoldtemperature
lowholdingpressure.

Problemscausedbypartshrinkage
Uncompensatedvolumetriccontractionleadstoeithersinkmarksorvoidsinthemoldinginterior.
Controllingpartshrinkageisimportantinpart,mold,andprocessdesigns,particularlyin
applicationsrequiringtighttolerances.Shrinkagethatleadstosinkmarksorvoidscanbereduced
oreliminatedbypackingthecavityafterfilling.Also,themolddesignshouldtakeshrinkageinto
accountinordertoconformtothepartdimension.PartshrinkagepredictedbyCMOLDoffersa
usefulguidelineforpropermolddesign.

FIGURE2.Processinganddesignparametersthataffectpartshrinkage

Warpage
Warpageisadistortionwherethesurfacesofthemoldedpartdonotfollowtheintendedshapeof
thedesign.Partwarpageresultsfrommoldedinresidualstresses,which,inturn,iscausedby
differentialshrinkageofmaterialinthemoldedpart.Iftheshrinkagethroughoutthepartis
uniform,themoldingwillnotdeformorwarp,itsimplybecomessmaller.However,achieving
lowanduniformshrinkageisacomplicatedtaskduetothepresenceandinteractionofmany
factorssuchasmolecularandfiberorientations,moldcooling,partandmolddesigns,andprocess
conditions.

Warpageduetodifferentialshrinkage
Warpageinmoldedpartsresultsfromdifferentialshrinkage.Variationinshrinkagecanbecaused
bymolecularandfiberorientation,temperaturevariationswithinthemoldedpart,andbyvariable
packing,suchasoverpackingatgatesandunderpackingatremotelocations,ordifferent
pressurelevelsasmaterialsolidifiesacrossthepartthickness.Thesecausesaredescribedmore
fullybelow.
Differencesinfilledandunfilledmaterials
Nonuniformmoldcoolingacrossthepartthicknessoroverthepart
CoolingratesthatdifferbecauseofPartthicknessvariation
Partgeometryasymmetryorcurvature

Differencesinfilledandunfilledmaterials
DifferentialshrinkageforfilledandunfilledmaterialsisshowninFigure3below.When
shrinkageisdifferentialandanisotropicacrossthepartandpartthickness,theinternalstresses

createdcanleadtopartwarpage.
Filledmaterials
Forfiberfilledthermoplastics,reinforcingfibersinhibitshrinkageduetotheirsmallerthermal
contractionandhighermodulus.Therefore,fiberfilledmaterialsshrinklessalongthedirectionin
whichfibersalign(typicallytheflowdirection)comparedtotheshrinkageinthetransverse
direction.Similarly,particlefilledthermoplasticsshrinkmuchlessthanunfilledgrades.
Unfilledmaterials
Ontheotherhand,ifanunfilledmoldedpartcontainshighlevelsofmolecularorientation,
shrinkageisanisotropicbecausealignedchainsshrinktoagreaterextentinthedirectionof
orientation.
Liquidcrystalpolymers
Forliquidcrystalpolymers(LCPs),thetightlyorderedselfreinforcingstructuretendstoexhibit
anisotropicshrinkage.

FIGURE3.Differentialshrinkageforbothunfilledandfilledmaterials

Nonuniformmoldcoolingacrossthepartthickness
Nonuniformcoolinginthepartandasymmetriccoolingacrossthepartthicknessfromthemold
cavityandcorecanalsoinducedifferentialshrinkage.Thematerialcoolsandshrinks
inconsistentlyfromthemoldwalltothecenter,causingwarpageafterejection.

FIGURE4.Partwarpagedueto(a)nonuniformcoolinginthepart,and(b)asymmetriccoolingacrossthe
partthickness.

Partthicknessvariation
Shrinkageincreasesasthewallthicknessincreases.Differentialshrinkageduetononuniform
wallthicknessisamajorcauseofpartwarpageinunreinforcedthermoplastics.Morespecifically,
differentcoolingratesandcrystallizationlevelsgenerallyarisewithinpartswithwallsectionsof
varyingthickness.Thiscausesdifferentialshrinkage,resultinginpartwarpage,asshownin
Figure5below.

FIGURE5.Largervolumetricshrinkageduetothehighcrystallizationlevelintheslowcoolingareas(e.g.,
thethicksections)leadstodifferentialshrinkageandthuspartwarpage

Partgeometryasymmetryorcurvature
Geometricasymmetry(e.g.,aflatplatewithalargenumberofribsthatarealignedinone
directionorononesideofthepart)willintroducenonuniformcoolinganddifferentialshrinkage
thatcanleadtopartwarpage,asshowninFigure6below.

FIGURE6.Thepoorcoolingofthemoldwallontheribbedsidecausesaslowercoolingofthematerialon
thatoneside,whichcanleadtopartwarpage