INJECTION MOLDING

From Pellets to Parts

Since 1985, Darter Plastics has been a leading producer of injection molded plastic products in the United States, China, Mexico, and Singapore. Our state-of-the-art facility includes 15 presses, and we are capable of molding a wide range of thermoplastic materials in almost any color. We are able to minimize wastage and reduce production costs by recycling unused material.

In addition to our superior plastic molding services, we are pleased to offer pad printing, hot stamping, and assembly. Our knowledgeable and experienced engineers are capable of assisting with every step of the design and prototyping process, and our in-house mold production capabilities allow us to complete a wide range of projects from design to finished product.

What is Injection Molding?

Injection molding is a plastic shaping process in which melted plastic material, or resin, is injected at high pressures into pre-shaped metal molds to produce parts or finished products. It is a simpler process than machining or milling, and is useful for the production of high quantities of identical parts in a short period of time. In addition, scrap from moldings can be easily reinserted into the process, significantly reducing material costs due to wastage. 

Plastic Injection Molding Services

Injection Molding Process

A plastic injection machine can be divided into two units. These include the injection unit, which consists of the hopper, barrel, screw, and injector; and the clamping unit, which is responsible for opening and closing the mold and ejecting the finished product. Depending on the manufacturing material and product, a variety of clamps are available.

Injection molding machines come in a wide range of sizes, based on clamping force. To ensure the correct machine is being used for the project at hand, engineers and machine operators must take into consideration the mold dimensions and shot size, or volume, of the mold.

Injection Molding

Plastic injection molding machines consist of four primary components: a feed hopper, reciprocating screw, heating barrel, and injector nozzle. The injection process is outlined as follows:

  1. A prefabricated hollow metal mold is clamped into the injection molding machine. 
  2. Plastic pellets, granules, or powder are fed into the barrel via the hopper. 
  3. The plastic material is heated in the barrel using the friction generated by the turning reciprocating screw. Reciprocating screws for injection machines are manufactured with a wider diameter toward the nozzle end to increase heating friction and injection pressure. 
  4. The melted material is transported along the barrel by the threads of the reciprocating screw from the hopper to the injector nozzle. In addition to friction from the reciprocating screw, heating bands around the barrel help to keep the plastic in a molten state. 
  5. The injector nozzle is located between the barrel and the mold, and is manipulated to adjust the pressure and quantity of plastic injected into the mold cavity. The sprue, or nozzle opening, connects with the mold and fills it with molten plastic at a predetermined pressure and quantity, as programmed. If there are multiple molds, runners connect the cavities so that the injector will only inject one shot of resin to fill multiple molds. 
  6. Once the plastic in the mold has hardened and cooled, the product is removed through the use of ejector pins. Depending on the material, parts created via plastic injection molding often require minimal finishing.

Injection Mold Materials

The injection molding process employs metal molds that are typically composed of aluminum or steel, depending on the type of plastic being molded and the intended production method. 

Aluminum is widely used for mold production due to its easy formability, lightweight nature, and quick cooling capabilities. It allows for faster and more efficient production, and is significantly less expensive to form into molds than steel. Aluminum designs are also easy to adapt, so there is less potential expense in the event that a mold design must be adjusted. However, aluminum is less durable than steel and can warp or wear when used for complex or abrasive plastic blends or in extremely high-volume production. 

Steel is the better option for molds that will be used in high-volume production, as it will retain its shape with very little wear. While it is a more expensive material, it will eventually pay for itself over the course of a large production run. Steel is less susceptible to wear and scratching that could be caused by reinforced or rough plastics that would score softer aluminum molds. 

Injectable Plastics

There are a wide range of plastics used in the production of injection molded parts and components, including:

  • ABS
  • Acetal
  • Acrylic
  • Copolymer and homopolymer polypropylene
  • HTPE/LDPE
  • Microcellular
  • Nylon
  • PEEK
  • PET
  • Polyaryletheretherketone
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Polystyrene
  • Polyurethane
  • Thermoplastic
  • Thermoset

Benefits of Injection Molding

Injection molding is widely used for the production of plastic parts and components, as it offers a wide range of advantages over other plastic fabrication processes. Some of these advantages include:

Detail and Precision

Plastic is injected into molds at high pressures to ensure that all mold cavities are completely filled with material. This ensures highly detailed precision and accuracy. It further allows for the creation of geometrically complex and sophisticated components that would be extremely expensive to create using other manufacturing methods, such as tooling or milling.

Eco-Friendly and Low Waste

Plastic scrap that is generated during the injection process can easily be ground and reprocessed, thereby reducing wastage for a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective process.

Enhanced Efficiency and Automation

Plastic injection molding enables the production of large quantities of parts in a short period of time, providing greater manufacturing efficiency. Automation significantly reduces the cost of labor and increases the rate of output, as well. Through the use of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs, injection molded parts are more consistent and are less error-prone than other processes that require a more hands-on approach.

Improved Component Strength and Durability

Plastic injection molding is highly versatile and allows for the use of fillers and enhancers to improve the strength and durability of plastics during the molding process. Unlike machining and tooling, plastic injection allows fillers to be added throughout the production process.

Multi-Material Injection

In addition to mixing different materials together, injection molding allows manufacturers to combine multiple plastic materials into one product at the same time. For example, they can create the basic form of a plastic toothbrush and add the rubber-like grip material on the same production line. 

Production-Ready With Minimal Finishing

Injection molding allows for a smooth and detailed finish that rarely requires post-production finishing. 

Cost Benefits

The use of plastic injection molding results in multiple cost-saving benefits, including: 

  • Material costs. Reduced wastage and precise computerized calibration ensures lower overall material costs.
  • Production costs. Automation and large-scale production allow for economies of scale that facilitate a lower cost-per-item on high-volume runs. 
  • Tooling costs. Affordable aluminum tooling reduces costs on smaller runs, while more expensive steel tooling costs are mitigated over time by larger runs.

Injection Molding With Darter Plastics

Our plastic injection molding is ISO compliant and meets high industry standards. We mold any plastic material except rigid PVC. All waste is recycled and reprocessed.

Our advanced machinery is equipped to handle thermoplastic, thermoset materials and can provide small to larger shot sizes, ranging from .07 to 40 ounces, depending on client specifications. Constructed with a (+/-) .005 inch precision tolerance and a maximum 400 ton clamping force, our premium plastic molding has successfully served the needs of a wide variety of industries.

From single prototype to OEM high volume production, Darter Plastics can manage all your plastic injection molding requirements. Please inquire about our additional services, which include engineering, mold making, product development, rapid prototyping and tooling.

Plastic Injection Molding Capabilities

General Capabilities

Contract Manufacturing
Custom

Industry Focus

Aerospace
Communication
Consumer Goods
Electrical
Electronic
Gardening

Maritime
Medical
Military
Optical
Sporting Goods

Intended Application

Components
Consumer Products
Decorative
Furniture

Hardware
Pet Products
Pressure Transducers
Window Components

Industry Standards

ISO – Compliant
Mil-Spec – Compliant

UL

Material

ABS
Acetal
Acrylic
Copolymer and Homopolymer Polypropylene
HTPE/LDPE
Microcellular
Nylon
PEEK
PET

Polyaryletheretherketone
Polycarbonate
Polyester
Polypropylene
Polystyrene
Polyurethane
Thermoplastic
Thermoset

Product Capabilities

Large Components
Micro Parts
Miniature

Multi-Component
Small Parts

Mold Process Type

In-Mold Assembly (IMA) – Over Molding – Allows a metal insert to be embedded in a part in one operation for improved product structure and increased strength.
Solid – A process to manufacture solids parts that do not have any hollow cavities.

Lead Time

Emergency services available
Quoted on job by job basis

Rush Services Available

Production Volume

Min 1 Unit to 1,000,000+ Units
Specialty Production Shop
Prototype
Low Volume
Small Run

High Volume
Large Run
Long Run
Large Scale Production Volume Run

Efficiency

Lean Manufacturing

File Formats

AlphaCAM (AMD,ATD)
AutoCAD (DWG,DWZ)
BMP
Catia (CATDrawing,CATPart)
Delcam (DGK, DMT)
DXF
GIF
IGES
Inventor (IDW, IPT)
IronCAD (ICD,ICS)
JPG or JPEG
MasterCam (MDX, MC8, MC9, SET)

PDES
PDF
Pro-E or Pro/Engineer (DRW,PRT,XPR)
SAT
SolidEdge (DFT)
SolidWorks (SLDPRT,SLDDRW,SLDDRT)
STEP
SurfCam (DSN)
TIFF
TurboCAD (TCW,TCX)
Unigraphics (PRT)

Shot Size-The maximum weight of plastic that can be displaced or injected by a single injection stroke. Generally expressed as ounces of polystyrene.

Min 0.07 oz to 60 oz

Clamping Force

Max 310 tons

Tolerance (+/-)

.005 in