Ever thought how the cell-phone that you have in your hands, or the coins in your pockets, or almost anything that is made of plastic and metal that you have in your vicinity, is made? Almost anything that you use, ranging from your toothbrush in the morning to the steel glass that you drink water in, is molded, and the process of molding is something that you would have been intrigued about at some point of time. Everyone takes their mind to such things from time to time, and it is no surprise that you have been curious.
Molding is a process of manufacturing objects, where liquid or semi liquid material (such as plastic or metal) is shaped into a desired form using a rigid mold (sometimes called matrix). A mold is usually a hollowed out rigid material, or any other hard material (usually ceramic or the like) which has been shaped to give the liquid material its shape when solidified. Once the liquid that has been put inside the mold solidifies (or cools), it takes the desired shape and it is extracted from the mold. The mold itself is either a single unit, or two pieces (called a bi-valve mold), which makes up for each half of the object that is being molded. This much can be guessed by even a layman. What is curious to know is, the way the molds themselves are designed and made. Are they made by hand? Are they crudely designed? Is the material chosen for the mold, a random one? The answer to all of these questions is no.
Mold making is a very intricate process that needs proper designing and careful manufacturing in order to produce flawless objects from the mold.
Usually, mold making is done very carefully, because the mold is mostly there to stay, however many objects are made out of it. So it needs to be durable, sturdy, and intricately designed, so that its products do not have flaws. Usually, the following design concepts are kept in mind while designing the mold:
• Designing for manufacturability: The molds need to be designed in a way the brings value to the final manufactured pieces of articles made. Everything, from their design, function, features, and the like are thought out to make sure that the mold does the one job it is made to do, and does it very well: to mold. If the object produced has even a little bit of flaw, it can lead to large scale quality control issues. This can only be rectified by a perfect mold.
• Use of proper material: Whether it is plastic, ceramic, metal, glass, or any kind of resin, the choice of material makes a large difference to the overall reliability and workability of the mold. A good material makes the manufacturing process very simple. But a bad material can literally, potentially wreak havoc.
• Tooling and production management: The mold, to be designed, needs a variety of skills to make sure that it is impeccable. Such skills do not come in one package. We have to make them into a package. A good project team with a combination of the various skills needed to make the mold properly is an important part in successful creation of the mold. Proper computer system, simulations, and intricate designs are the sign of a well thought after mold.
These are some very important things to keep in mind while designing a mold, or getting it designed by experts. If the mold designing company fulfils the above criteria, you can trust them to not let you down. Else, you might have to face unforeseen circumstances. Usually, the following kinds of molds are used in various applications of manufacturing:
1. Stack Molds: Two face stack molds are needed in high volume, low footprint production processes, such as large scale manufacturing. They need to be perfectly made, so that not even a single unit of the stack is potent enough to cause any bad quality molding.
2. Unscrewing Molds: Molds with threading, such as caps or the like, need special care and expertise in making properly. The bottle that you unscrew for drinking the soft drink has just the kind of cap which is made from such molds.
3. Spin Stack Molds: These are needed when the object to be made needs a rotating design, such as the kind needed during assembly, assisted with secondary processes.
4. Two-shot Molds: Nowadays, in the specialized needs of businesses and consumers, there has come up the need of having two layers of thermoplastics molded in one go, for aesthetics and the like. This needs a special kind of mold, that is usually called a two-shot mold in the industry.
For the molding process, usually, blow molding, powder molding, compression molding, extrusion molding, matrix molding, and the like are used. For most of the highly detailed objects, however, injection molding method is followed. Here, the liquid material is injected into the mold with high pressure so that it reaches every nook and cranny of the mold itself, and so that no part of the object remains infirm or poorly set. This is usually a good way of casting, as opposed to other ways, because more details can be covered with this process. Since the liquid material is forced into the mold, high detailing can be utilized. However, for this process, the machinery cost can be high. This process is used for prototyping, because the intricacy that it allows can help us create accurate prototypes of the designs that we have come up with.
Molding is surely an intriguing process, given that most of the objects that we use, are molded, and very few amongst us actually know the process in reasonable detail. It is always useful to know about how things work around you, and knowing the process of molding can only allow you to make a good choice of articles to buy (you would be able to spot if it is well molded or not), or, if you are planning a manufacturing business, select a good company to help you design and produce the mold for the best quality products.