Few products have lasted through the centuries that evoke the feeling of both quality and luxury. But one such item that conjures up an image of craftsmanship, quality, precision, and value is a Swiss watch. With the advent of quartz and digital, Swiss watchmaking has remained a time-tested product that is valued and recognized as a solid investment – a luxury item that has been meticulously designed and produced to last. While Switzerland is a relatively small country and larger nations have also produced precision timepieces, to this day the Swiss are world-renowned for watchmaking, and they dominate the global industry.
Not just anyone can consistently produce precise products that can meet the dimensional stability, accuracy, and interoperability required for a luxury timepiece. The same holds true in the design, development and manufacturing of micro-molded plastics.
While someone can produce a Grandfather clock, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can build a smaller timepiece to the same standard. Both products may tell time, but the engineering, design and technology required are completely different. The same holds true with scientific injection molding – just because someone can produce an injection-molded part for a medical device doesn’t mean that they have the experience and skillset to provide micro-molded solutions.
WHAT IS MICRO MOLDING?
Micro molding becomes important when an OEM is designing an exceedingly small device where the size and weight of the components need to fit in an extremely small package. The micro-molding of these parts requires a different approach to tool design where very precise molds and tools are required. For example, mold core pins, ejection systems, and mold tool parts can be just a few thousandths of an inch in diameter, making them very fragile.
Forum Plastics has a family of Micro Molding and Small Part Molding systems designed to support molded components as small as .005 in3 (.08 cm3) or less in volume. Our tooling, manufacturing, and quality support systems are fully integrated into the success of producing these small, precise components to support your production needs.
WHY USE MICRO MOLDING?
Some of the benefits that can be realized from using micro-molded products include:
- Reducing part weight:
If weight is a matter of extreme importance in your application, consider micro-molded products. For example, in the aerospace and medical industries, the weight of each component could make a huge difference to the performance of the application.
- Increased confidence in critical components:
Micro molding is typically used in specific applications where the component size plays an important role in the efficiency and operation of the assembly or device.
- Greater part tolerance and interoperability:
Micro-molded parts often need to be designed to be part of a higher-level assembly. With that in mind, Forum has the ability to produce with the tolerance capabilities to be held to ±.0015” and tighter on many applications. This is highly dependent on material, part geometry, and feature size.
WHY PARTNER WITH FORUM?
Forum Plastics has been offering small part molding since 2018. Forum has invested in two (2) BOY XS 11 ton molding machines with a 5.7 gram shot size (PS) and two Arburg 270A 38 ton molding machines with a 2.3 grams shot size (PS) that are used for this type of molding.
While traditional machining equipment can be used for micro mold tool builds, Forum’s tool build capabilities have taken into consideration the size of the cutters used to machine, the EDM material based on cavity detail, and the speed and feeds of the machining equipment that need to be changed to achieve the fine details of micro-molded parts.
Forum’s investment has gone beyond the tool build and production aspects into the quality systems required to support micro molding. We’ve invested in several new pieces of metrology and inspection equipment to ensure that our parts meet all quality specifications. Forum has added two Keyence systems to the production inspection lab, and on the metrology side, we have invested in an industrial CT scanner which can measure to an accuracy of a few microns.
Additionally, Forum’s design and engineering team has the knowledge and experience to assist with material recommendations to support micro-molded products. We use industry-standard material handling and processing equipment and can make appropriate adjustments given specific project needs. Forum’s engineers provide a consultative approach to understand your needs when making material recommendations. We focus on aligning the product design to the right material for the application.
To learn more about how Forum Plastics can assist you with micro molding leveraging our engineering, design, manufacturing and quality solutions and experience, contact Doug Hungerford, Director of Engineering, or visit our website to learn more.