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Question 1

As part of a training program that you are participating in at Plastics.com you are in the process of
explaining to some new hires that the processing cost of injection-molded parts is a function of
what you have called the basic relative cycle time of the part. Explain in detail exactly which
features of a part affect the basic cycle time of a part.

a) Every elemental plate has its own corresponding cooling time, hence, the plate with the
longest cooling time controls the cycle time for the part. Thus, although cooling time for a
plate is "local" its effect on the cycle time is "global. Although the side walls (external
plates) are efficiently cooled by cooling channels running parallel to the walls, the base
(internal plate) needs to be cooled by more sophisticated but less efficient units such as
baffles and bubblers. Internal plates are difficult to cool as compared to external plates.
Although the above explanation indicates that a difference in cooling time should exist
between internal and external plates, in practice the increase in cycle time for injection-
molded parts was not found to be statistically significant. This may be due in part to the
fact that most engineering type partitionable parts have an L/H ratio small enough so that
reasonable cooling occurs in any case.

b) Ribs
Figure 1.1 shows structure of reinforcing ribs

Reinforcing ribs are an effective way to improve the rigidity and strength of molded parts. Proper
use can save material and weight, shorten molding cycles and eliminate heavy cross section areas
which could cause molding problems. Where sink marks opposite ribs are objectionable, they can
be hidden by use of a textured surface or some other suitable interruption in the area of the sink.
Ribs should be used only when the designer believes the added structure is essential to the
structural performance of the part.

c) Bosses

Figure 1.1 shows the structure of bosses.

Bosses are used for mounting purposes or to serve as reinforcement around holes. As a rule,
the outside diameter of a boss should be 2 to 3 times the hole diameter to ensure adequate
strength. The same principles used in designing ribs pertain to designing bosses, that is,
heavy sections should be avoided to prevent the formation of voids or sink marks and cycle
time penalty.

d) Wall thickness

The cooling time is proportional to square of wall thickness (Imihezri, 2006). Cooling time
increases in a non-linear fashion with increasing part wall thickness. The cooling time for a semi-
crystalline material like Polybutylene Terephthalate is always higher than that for an amorphous
material like a blend of Polycarbonate and ABS. Where different wall thicknesses cannot be
avoided, the designer should effect a gradual transition from one thickness to another as abrupt
changes tend to increase the stress locally.

e) Molded-in inserts

Inserts should be used when there is a functional need for them and when the additional cost is
justified by improved product performance. Once the need for inserts has been established,
alternate means of installing them should be evaluated. Rather than insert molding, press or snap-
fitting or ultrasonic insertion should be considered. The final choice is usually influenced by the
total production cost. Inserts are often difficult to load, which can prolong the molding cycle time.

Question 2

In addition to the basic relative cycle time discussed in Problem above, what other factors affect
the overall relative cycle time of an injection-molded part?

a) Part design

If an injection molder is looped into the design phase, chances are improved that cycle time
missteps will be avoided. Certain design parameters like wrapping plastic entirely around mold
steel or other non-flat configuration, designing a mold that cannot accommodate cooling lines or
including unduly thick walls not only drive up cooling times, they also introduce failure-inducers
like thin steel and hot spots. An injection molder that’s previously been through and resolved these
struggles will offer invaluable guidance during the design phase.

b) Mold material

Like plastics selection and part design, mold material influences outcomes. Steel is the most
common mold material, but there are occasions where heat must be pulled out of the molded plastic
faster than steel allows, known as thermo conductivity. In these instances, aluminium or other
highly-conductive metals may be inserted within the steel tooling so it comes into strategic contact
with the plastic to address potential hot spots without interrupting molding or delaying cycle times.

c) Mold cooling design

If containing cooling cannot be adequately accomplished by adjusting mold material, designing


the mold to include cooling lines that run through the steel to cool the molded plastic may be an
efficient solution. Injection molders that conduct mold fill simulation to estimate of how long it
will take that part to reach ejection temperature may encourage the use of cooling lines or changes
to cooling design systems, water temperatures or flow rates to optimize cycle times and overall
mouldings process.

d) Wall thickness

The thickest point of the plastic part takes the longest to go from a molten state to being rigid
enough to eject. Therefore, the thicker the wall the longer the cycle time. If a wall can be thinned
without affecting part integrity, costs can likely be cut since there is less required machine time
per part in addition to possibly producing more parts per run.

e) Plastic type

The chemistry behind the construction of a plastic also underlies cycle time calculation in
important ways. Certain polymers may, for example, cool more slowly than others. If chosen
for constructing a certain injection molded part, that extra time translates to longer times in the
mold, slower ejection and thus extended cycle times.
Reference

1. Dimla, D.E., Camilotto, M. and Miani, F., 2005. Design and optimisation of conformal
cooling channels in injection moulding tools. Journal of Materials Processing
Technology.
2. Gibson, L.J. and Ashby, M.F., 1999. Cellular solids: structure and properties. Cambridge
university press.
3. Imihezri, S.S.S., Sapuan, S.M., Sulaiman, S., Hamdan, M.M., Zainuddin, E.S., Osman,
M.R. and Rahman, M.Z.A., 2006. Mould flow and component design analysis of
polymeric based composite automotive clutch pedals. Journal of materials processing
technology.
4. Woods, M.E., Shoemaker, C.L., Taylor, D.W. and Booth, P.C., Geon Co, 2002. Plastic
pallet. U.S. Patent 6,352,039.