Although we are immersed in a world where plastic components, are of very wide application, we must admit that "plastics" are really little known with respect to types, characteristics and applicability. Since it is our mission to take the customer by the hand to " get out of the maze of plastics" through the company.... our commitment has always been to design components, study materials and delve into applications in order to be able to propose and apply them.
It is one of the most important steps in the process. After sharing with the customer the specificity of the component to be made, we carry out 3D solid modeling "four-handed" to find the best balance of shapes and thicknesses by applying the golden rules of optimization of plastic manufactures. The goal is always to limit criticalities, simplify solutions and molds, finding the best balance between investment in the mold and production specifications.
Aside from empirical and experience-driven evaluations in our recognition of materials, through external partners we are able to perform quick and cost-effective characterization analyses of materials ( e.g., of your competition ) to understand the exact polymer, fillers or additives in the compound you want to investigate and know for reference.
Choice of materials
This is the crucial phase around which every new project revolves; it descends from the definition of the technical specification and from it the mold design and molding. In a landscape of about 30 families of raw materials, we can define the optimal material (compound) by modulating polymer, reinforcements, fillers and additives. This takes into account both performance and regulatory aspects to define the necessary and sufficient product for application. Finally, very important is the in-depth knowledge of domestic manufacturers and distributors to identify, given supply specifications, who can offer the best price and service.
For decades we have been waiting to be able to actually "design the process" and not just the product. Fortunately, for years this has become a reality within the reach of SMEs and not just large companies. Simulating molding means doing on PC exactly what will be done on the press when the mold is finished by being able to prevent any defects. We check with them the moldability ( filling, joint lines, critical points for air vents ) the process and standard cycle so that it falls within non-critical conditions ( material and mold temperatures, speeds, pressures, times ) Very important finally is the study and prevention of deformations, so that the result is a choice and not something to be tried to remedy.
In the case of new studies, with unknowns of various kinds, it remains an important option to proceed through prototyping. Depending on the objective of the verifications on the prototype itself, we can proceed by different modes of additive manufacturing, more commonly called 3D printing ( FDM, SL stereolithography and several others ) for example for geometric and aesthetic or overall and assembly evaluations.
In other cases depending on the complexity of the part to be made and the availability of plates or bars, we proceed by machining to make a component for example with mechanical performance in line with the future printed.
If necessary and/or advisable, a real pilot mold is made, e.g., at an impression, where the exact geometry, some specific solutions of the mold to be produced, and the injection point can be replicated. A crucial aspect is then being able to use the exact material ( polymer, reinforcements and fillers from the chosen supplier and to be homologated ). In this way, all part performance from aesthetics to shrinkage and warpage as well as the best expected cycle time can be verified and tested in order to be able to optimize multi-cavity molds to the maximum for medium to large series.
A relatively new aspect of the service is the approach aimed at reducing the environmental impact of new projects. Aside from the classic theme of weight reduction, the elimination of "cold injection channels" or "sprues" through greater use of hot channels also reduces the materials involved and the energy required for grinding and recycling.
The most comprehensive approach today is to be able to offer different product families considering fully and partially recycled materials from homogeneous supply chains ( second life plastics ) materials produced from renewable sources, biodegradable and even compostable materials. All this with attention to the end of life of the product, to "design for disassembling" by starting to deal more concretely with the entire life cycle of the component from a circular economy perspective.