Structural Foam Molding
Structural foam plastic molding is an injection molding process that utilizes a foaming agent that mixes with the base resin in the polymer melt before being injected into the mold. This mixture becomes a combined polymer/gas melt. This process allows for less volume of plastic than a solid injection molded part to completely fill the mold, or a “partial fill” method. The lesser polymer volume requires less clamping pressure on the molds. This is often described as a low-pressure molding process. Due to the lower pressure and forces involved, the structural foam process allows very large parts and/or multiple parts to be produced on a single machine and in a single cycle. Additionally, cost-effective tooling solutions can be utilized for these large or multi-cavity molded products.
As the foamed plastic flows through the mold, the surface cells burst and a solid skin is formed against the walls of the mold while the core of the part cools to a cellular structure. This results in a part that typically weighs 20% less than a solid plastic part, is 3 to 4 times more rigid, and is produced with less molded-in stresses. Parts may weigh up to several hundred pounds.
From a conversion perspective, structural foam molding can replace wood, metal, concrete, and fiberglass. It can also have significant advantages in relation to alternative processes such as rotational molding, die-cast, stamped metal, smc, thermoforming, rim, and fiberglass layup... The results? Significant reduction in cost and increases in productivity.
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