A national provider of plastic injection molding services

Blog

Plastic Injection Molding or Additive Manufacturing?

by Administrator4. January 2017 15:10

 

As a plastic injection molder, it surprised many when we entered the additive manufacturing industry with the creation of rp+m in 2012.  Why would we entertain the thought of starting a company whose industry was considered a direct threat to plastic injection molding? Simple, we believed that this technology would pair well with injection molding.

While the two technologies may be complimentary, there are still times when one will be a better choice. 

COST:

Plastic injection molding is the most popular method to make plastic parts. One reason is cost. If you need thousands of parts produced annually, plastic injection molding would be the most cost effective, even when factoring in the tooling. While a tool will cost thousands of dollars, the actual piece price for the part may run as low as a few cents (if a very small part made of a common polymer). Even small parts produced via additive manufacturing will cost tens of dollars per part – price for thousands of parts and you will quickly match the cost of plastic injection molding.

If you need a small plastic part made but only need a few of them – additive manufacturing is your better choice. When only a few parts are needed the cost for tooling in plastic injection molding is prohibitive. Additive manufacturing is the better choice for lower part quantities.

DESIGN ITERATIONS:

Sometimes you have a part design that isn’t quite there but you need to know where exactly the issues might be with the part. Additive manufacturing is your best choice. Your CAD design can be uploaded and the part made in hours. You can then have your part in-hand to review and decide what changes need to be made to the design.

TIME:

The time it takes to make your parts truly depends on the size and number of parts you need. If you need just a handful of parts, additive manufacturing is absolutely the most efficient choice to produce the parts. If thousands of parts are needed throughout the year, then plastic injection molding is your best choice when mass-producing.

QUALITY:

While there have been great strides in additive manufacturing to create high quality parts, injection molding can produce a part that typically has a better appearance to it and can be made with various surface finishes (including in-mold labeling and diamond-finishes).

 

                   

Complexity in design with 3D printing  

 

          

 Overmolding and high gloss finish with injection molding                                 

 

 

 

 

 

Even four years later we firmly believe that plastic injection molding and additive manufacturing are complementary technologies that can exist on their own or work together. If you have a part design but want to have the opportunity for design iterations before committing, you could have the part made via 3D printing and oncethe design is confirmed, then move forward to mass-production via injection molding. We are very excited to see what the next stages will be with additive manufacturing and how it will continue to work with plastic injection molding.

10 Interesting Facts about Plastic Injection Molding

by Administrator5. December 2016 13:09

 

We at Thogus find plastic injection molding fascinating and while we recognize that this might not be the case for most, we do think the facts below are pretty interesting. Enjoy! 

  • The first plastic injection molding machine was patented in the United States in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt, with help from his brother.
  • The original purpose for the injection molding machine was to make billiard balls by injection celluloid into a mold. Celluloid went on to replace ivory in billiard ball production. 
  • In 1946 the Injection Molding industry was revolutionized by American James Hendry when he updated Hyatt’s design from a plunger to a screw injection molding. To this day most plastic injection molding machines use this technique
  • In the 1970s James Hendry also designed the first gas-assisted injection molding process, allowing for more complex parts to be made.
  • Injection molding is the most popular method of plastic processing.
  • In 1980 Apple selected the material ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for personal computers.
  • There are over 80,000 different materials available for molding (including 17,000 plastics).
  • Injection molded parts can range in size as large as a car bumper or tractor hood down to a part smaller than the eraser on a pencil.
  • There are over 8,000 plastic injection molders in the United States including captive molders and contract manufacturers. 
  • Since 1949 Lego has injection molded over 400 BILLION Lego elements and currently they produce on average 35,000 Lego elements a minute. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics

Top 3 reasons Thogus is exhibiting at Design2Part in October

by Administrator26. September 2016 14:31

A multi-industry event focused on our region

  • Design2Part is not limited to one specific industry which means we have the ability to network with a variety of companies.
  • Thogus is committed to supporting the region, and by taking part in this regional event, we feel this helps solidify that commitment. We want to make sure OEMs know we are here in their backyard to help them launch and manage their product lifecycles.

Quality of the attendees and exhibitors 

  • Design2Part has been around for over 40 years, so the reputation of the event ensures that the attendees are coming to find solutions, not just kick the tires.  
  • The top OEMs from the region will be exhibiting and that helps drive the right attendee.
  •  Design engineers, purchasing, quality are just some of the attendees we look forward to seeing!

Personal touch

  • Emails and phone calls are fine but even in this day and age, nothing can replace face-to-face interactions. Let’s face it, we buy from people we like and that often means needing to sit down and have a real life conversation.
  • With over 300 product categories and thousands of attendees, this show provides the opportunity to network with numerous people not only to show what Thogus is capable of but also to learn about other technologies that can help us grow our business.

Join us on October 12 and October 13 at the John S. Knight Center in Akron, Ohio. You can find Russ, Matt, and Joe at booth 621 and learn about how Thogus can help you with your plastic injection molding and 3D printing needs! 

Russ Wolff

Matt Pickston

Joe Karpinski

Tags: , , , , ,

Cold vs Hot Runner Molds – Benefits to Both

by Administrator29. June 2016 17:58

Following part design and material selection the next step in plastic injection molding is getting the tool designed and made. One of the earliest decisions to make is whether to have a cold runner or hot runner system. 

Cold Runner

When a mold is designed for a cold runner system, you have a channel formed between the two halves of a mold, allowing the plastic to move from the injection molding machine nozzle to the cavities. When the mold opens to eject the newly formed parts, the material in the runner system is also ejected, resulting in scrap material.

Hot Runner

This system is an assembly of heated components that inject molten plastic into the cavities of the mold. A hot runner system typically includes a heated manifold and a number of heated nozzles. When a mold with a hot runner system opens, only the part ejects as material in the runner system is kept molten and will fill into the part cavity during the next cycle.

So which do you choose?

Benefits of a Hot Runner System:

  • Eliminate the runner thus eliminating expensive scrap (and potential regrind issues) and you have less handling of materials. 
  • Lower the cycle time since you are not waiting for the cold runner to cool during the cycle. Removing the runner also improves the injection screw recovery and injection time since due to the smaller shot size
  • Design flexibility because you can locate the gate at many points on the part

 Downsides of a Hot Runner System:

  •      Very expensive to design and build
  •      Maintenance of the mold requires higher level of expertise
  •      Complicated design 

Benefits of a Cold Runner System:

  • Less expensive to manufacture
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Easier to use for a wide variety of polymers

Downsides of a Cold Runner System:

  • Scrap waste through runner system and handling of materials
  • Potentially incorporating regrind into the system

When you are making the decision to choose between the a cold or hot runner system it is important to have a thorough understanding of your part, the material, and the estimated annual units. While hot runner systems are expensive to make, the scrap material waste and extended cycle time can offset the tooling savings.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics | Training

An Insider's View - American Injection Molding Institute (AIM) Certificate Program

by Administrator28. March 2016 14:03

My name is William Allen. I have been around plastics injection molding my entire life. My parents actually met while working in an injection molding facility as young adults and I can remember recognizing the sounds and smells of a plastics plant as early as five years old. When I found myself on the hunt for a job in 2005 I made my way into the plastics world as well. Starting out as an operator I was able to see plastics manufacturing from many angles as I worked my way up through the ranks. My first formal training in the realm of processing came in the form of a two day class and a one month crash course from a newly hired engineer on staff at Nampac (North American Packaging) which, at the time, was located in East Cleveland Ohio. That was in 2007. At the time, I was strictly working with polypropylene making one product – buckets - in several sizes and colors on the 11 presses we had in house. It wasn’t until midway through 2008, when Nampac closed its doors, that I joined the Thogus Products family as a process technician. I immediately started to realize just how many different plastics there were, and how much processing variation could exist in a facility that ran so many custom jobs.

Over the course of the next six years I enrolled in three additional technical training programs and gained a great deal of invaluable experience. My experience expanded across many different machines, several types of robots and automation, and of course multiple types and grades of plastic. Fast forward to March 2015, I was then offered an opportunity to be among the inaugural class of the AIM Institute in Erie Pennsylvania - an opportunity I will be eternally thankful for and know I will benefit from for the balance of my career. 

Upon taking the entrance test for the AIM Institute (strictly for the sake of gauging current level of knowledge) I realized two things. First, this was not going to be a walk in the park. Second, I simply did not know nearly as much as I thought I did in the realm of injection molding. I was a fair mixture of nervous and excited. But, since I only had a week’s notice before the first of the four classes I was not able to do any research on what exactly I had signed up for; and therefore possibly less nervous than I would have been. Previously, I had read many articles both written by and written about John Beaumont, Mike Sepe and John Bozzelli and recognized them as leaders and pioneers in their respective corners of the plastics world. Little did I know that they would be among the instructors that would be teaching the AIM institute classes. I was a bit star-struck to say the least when I first entered the classroom and saw their name tags on the desks. I remember thinking “I might be out of my league here.” Turns out the mix of students in that class ranged from product design, to tooling, to processing and even quality control. The class, thankfully, is designed to work for anyone in the plastics world.

Throughout the next year I learned plastics - starting at the molecular level and working all the way through tool design, processing and even part review and design. The classes, while very challenging (even for the Thogus, degreed plastics engineer who was taking the class as well), were not the usual “take your information and go” type of classes. There was an enormous amount of support not only during the class and on the homework assigned between classes, but on any day of the week at any time. The instructors were just an email away and their responses were always prompt and informative. They want the students to succeed and their passion for the plastics industry was always evident. I admittedly had rough patches in some areas, but I was never completely lost. When I needed help it was always available.

In addition to the support from the instructors at the AIM Institute, the time allotted to me by my workplace to complete the WebEx classes and homework assignments was pivotal in my completion of the certification as well. Without Thogus’ support and encouragement throughout the program I may not have done as well or even have been able to complete and pass the classes. Their investment in me made an enormous difference in my ability to do well and directly impacted how much I was able to digest and retain the information. 

After my grade for the final test came in and I received my certificate in the “Plastics Engineering and Technology” program I had a great sense of pride. I finished the class tied for the top grade, and while the class was not very large, I felt very accomplished. More importantly, I had a measurable increase in confidence. I was able to step up at work and take on a new role with new responsibilities. I bring a new understanding of troubleshooting to every situation and find myself narrowing in on a particular problem so that I can quickly investigate solutions. I am able to look at new designs and recognize potential issues before products are launched, which can make a world of difference once the steel is cut and processing begins. The lessons and education I was afforded by this program have made a world of difference for me in my day-to-day work. Learning real world applications from experts in a professional setting and having the homework and reinforcement between classes made the information stick. It was an experience I will never forget, and the confidence to challenge the industry standards, ask questions and strive to solve problems will be a staple in my career. 

AIM Certificate

 

Which plastic processing method should you choose?

by Administrator17. March 2016 09:23

 

Plastic products are everywhere and the processes in which to make them are many. Knowing which process to choose for making a plastic part is key to making a quality part, and also to finding a supplier that can help you achieve your production goals. 

So, how do you choose? Let’s look at some of the most common processes used to make a plastic part:

1. Blow molding

Typical Use: Blow molding is typically used in the making of hollow parts, like bottles, that have a uniform wall thickness.

Overview of the Process: The first step in blow molding is the creation of a resin parison or a preform. A parison is a tube-like shape of plastic with a hole in one end that allows pressurized air to pass through. The parison is then clamped into the machine and air pressure is used to inflate the material which fills up the mold and creates the desired shape.

Variations of the Technology: Within the technology there are three types; extrusion blow molding, injection blow molding, and injection stretch molding.

 

2. Thermoforming

Typical Use: Within thermoforming there are two categories: Thin-gauge and thick-gauge. Thin-gauge thermoforming requires sheets less than .060in thick (1.5mm) and thick-gauge, the sheets are greater than .120in thick (3mm). Trays and packaging for medical, food, and retail are created using thin-gauge and larger items like plastic pallets, bumpers, refrigerator lines are made using thick-gauge thermoforming.

Overview of the Process: A plastics sheet is heated until it is pliable and placed over or between a steel mold of the shape to form customized plastic products. Typically thermoforming is done in a continuous, high-speed process where thousands of parts are made each hour.

Variations of the Technology: Vacuum forming, compression molding, pressure forming

 

3. Rotational plastic molding or roto molding

Typical Use: Rotational molding is typically used when making hollow parts that require uniform wall thickness such as tanks or kayak bodies. 

Overview of the Process: A mold is filled with a polymer resin – typically in powder form; the resin is then heated to a molten state while the mold rotates bi-axially so that the resin coats the inside of the mold cavity in a uniform fashion. Once cooled the part is removed from the mold.

Variations of the Technology: Much of the variation in rotational molding lies in the production equipment itself. There are a variety of methods used to actually rotate the molds: Rock and Roll, Clamshell, Carousel, Vertical, Shuttle and Swing Arm machines to name a few. Rotational molding often times is confused with rotational or spin casting which have slight variations that make them different than rotational molding. 

 

4. Extrusion

Typical Use: Extrusion is used to make products that have linear and fixed cross-sectional profiles such as pipe, hose, and fenestration products; and is the reason why extrusion is often times referred to as profile extrusion.  Extrusion is also one of the most common processes used to make compounded plastic pellets for extrusion or injection molding.

Overview of the Process: Either plastic compounded pellets or a dry blend of chemicals are placed into the material hopper and then loaded into the barrel of the extrusion machine where they are heated and worked along a screw to the end of a machine where they exit through a die. The die shape dictates the ultimate dimensions of the profile coming out of the machine. The shape or profile is then cooled and cut to the desired length. Because of the length requirements, often times extrusion equipment can take up an extensive amount of space on a shop floor.

Variations of the Technology: Often the screw does the majority of the work to extrude the product through the die, but in highly filled polymers such as fiber-reinforced profiles sometimes a method of pulltrusion is employed where the extrudate is pulled through a long die. 


5. Injection molding

Typical Use: Injection molding is the most common method of manufacturing plastic parts and is ideal when production of a single part is of high volume. Injection molding allows for a fast rate of production, the ability to have many textures, finished, colors and complex parts.

Overview of the Process: Similar to extrusion, plastic compounded pellets are loaded into the barrel of a machine where the material is melted and worked down the length of a screw. Unlike extrusion, however, instead of exiting the machine through a die, the material is pushed through a runner system into a closed mold made of steel in the shape of the desired part. The mold goes through a heating and cooling cycle and once the desired temperatures and time settings are achieved the mold opens and the part can be removed.

Variations of the Technology: Much of the variation that exists in injection molding has to do with the way in which the injection molding machine itself is positioned (vertical or horizontal) and also the way the tool is designed. Tooling and the machine are always dictated by the complexity of the part and the volumes that need to be achieved while optimizing manufacturing efficiencies.

Now that you know the processes let’s refer to a chart for advantages and disadvantages of each as it relates to potential applications.

 

Technology

Types of Parts

Advantages

Disadvantages

Blow molding

Disposable containers for packaging liquid consumer goods (soda bottles) 

Produce a one-piece hollow part

Best suited for mass production of small containers

Higher productivity than rotational molding

Limited to thermoplastics

Limited to hollow-forms

Wall thickness hard to control

Thermoforming

Tables, trays, liners, bumpers, packaging

Make parts quickly

Large and small parts can be made

Material is higher in quality and durability

Tool costs are less than other processes

Material costs can be as much as 50% higher than other methods

Uses more plastic than other methods

Rotational Molding


Tanks and other large, hollow parts 

Very little material wasted

Best suited for making large hollow parts

Not fast-moving process

Material costs are high

Extrusion

Drinking straws, pipes, tubes, hoses, optical fibers, fenestration products, deck boards

Low initial setup cost

Low production costs 

Limited precision

Restricted to only parts with a uniform cross section

Injection Molding

High volume, complex shapes

Most versatile

Many types of resins & additives

Fast production

Low labor costs

Design flexibility

High initial tooling cost

Part design restrictions

Accurate Part design required at initial stages 

 

 

Hopefully this information will help you when you have to decide what process to use when making a plastic part! 

 

Tags: , , ,

Manufacturing | Plastics

Transitioning from the military to the workforce

by Administrator8. February 2016 10:26

Guest post from our own James Michalenko and his transition from the military to the workforce!

When I thought about what I wanted to do for a career as a high school graduate, I only knew that I wanted it to be fun, exciting and challenging. So I decided to join the United States Marine Corps Reserves while I decided on college. The Marine Corps Infantry delivered just about everything that I was looking for, but I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do long-term. After returning from boot camp, my father told me about a Plastics Engineering Technology program at The Behrend College, Pennsylvania State University in Erie, Pennsylvania. The main selling point at that time, in 2004, was that the industry was relatively young and the job placement was 99.0% coming out of the program. I decided to try it out and quickly realized that it could possibly deliver the challenge I was looking for. I believed it could also occupy and interest me with all of the different types of manufacturing and engineering opportunities that exist, relative to the industry. In 2005, I was soon pulled out of college and the Plastics Engineering Technology program to serve overseas in Iraq. Returning back to school was difficult, however, the technical exposure, opportunity and the humming of an injection molding machine quickly got me back into plastics engineering and manufacturing. Today, I experience more opportunities to engineer applications and products than I could have ever imagined. The troubleshooting, critical thinking and discipline, among other things, that I developed while in the Corps, prepared me well for the manufacturing leadership position I hold today. It is obvious that the industry is still developing beyond what it was when I joined, and there is still much to be learned and redefined in the industry. It's exciting to be apart of the plastics industry.

Read more about Plastics Careers - http://www.moldingthefuture.org/

 

Tags: , , ,

Career | Manufacturing | Military | Plastics

Why Thogus Supports Manufacturing Day

by Administrator30. October 2015 09:14

Pumpkin Decorating!

 

Families learning about rp+mAmerica is a country of makers. We build. We design. We manufacture. Cleveland is a storied manufacturing city. Our steel helped build this nation. We built cars that transformed our economy. Our port has transported goods across our nation. Thogus is proud to be part of this history and proud to be a manufacturer.  

In recent years it seems that manufacturing has lost its allure as a career-destination. Schools are doing away with shop classes and kids look at factories as dirty and dead-end. At Thogus that is simply not true and on October 2nd we held a Manufacturing Day Family Open House for our Thogus employees and their families to show them what next-generation manufacturing looks like. 
 
Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Who better to show what that looks like than our own employees and their families? With the official Manufacturing Day on Friday October 2nd, we decided to have an event showcasing what we do and why we are a career-destination!
 
The event began at 5:30 pm Friday evening. All employees and their families were invited and we had an awesome turnout of more than 100 people, and out of that we had around 40 kids! To appeal to our younger attendees we had pumpkin painting, Lego building, Play-Doh station, and coloring and crafts. What better way to emphasize manufacturing than to have the wee ones create?
 
For everyone, our inimitable Brad Krupa hosted tours of our facility to provide a first-hand view of what we do. He covered five different stations, rp+m & JALEX, tool room, Energizer, Shurtech. With his gregarious nature and humorous approach, Brad proved to be the perfect tour guide.  It's difficult be bored when he is around! 

Thogus is proud and excited to be part of this event, the Manufacturing Day. We want our future generations to know that manufacturing is an industry that is worth joining and one you can be proud to be part of! 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Manufacturing

Attorney General, Mike DeWine, visits Thogus and it's family of companies

by Administrator4. February 2015 13:53

Yesterday Mike DeWine, Ohio's Attorney General, made a special stop at Thogus and it's family of companies to learn more about Manufacturing that is happening right here in Northeast Ohio.   Our sister company, rp+m , was able to educate Mr. DeWine and his team on additive manufacturing and our technology platforms. 

 

"We love having visitors like Mike tour our company, because they are interested in learning more about manufacturing.  It's becoming sexy again and Thogus, rp+m and JALEX are at the forefront of it," states Matt Hlavin, CEO of  Thogus, rp+m and JALEX Medical.   "Not only was he able to see all of the technology we have invested in on our mass production floor, but he was also able to learn about the metals and polymer 3D Printing platforms we have.  We were able to show Mike how we have grown from a traditional manufacturing company into an advanced manufacturing company!"

Tags: , , ,

Manufacturing

Thogus Spotlight Friday- Making Customers Happy

by Administrator21. November 2014 10:36
  • Describe your role here at Thogus : “I am a Customer Service Representative for our strategic accounts. I take care of our top customers and assist the other Customer Service Representatives when needed. I love making our customers happy, because it makes me happy and it makes us a happy Thogus. Part of our mission is to satisfy and exceed customers' expectations.  We live by this here at Thogus. I make sure that our customers orders are processed, shipped in a timely manner, and that we ship quality products every time.”
  • What do you like most about Thogus? : “I love the people who I work with. It is like coming home instead of to work. My coworkers are my second family.”
  • What does teamwork mean to you? : “To me, teamwork is a group of people working together to meet the same objectives. Putting differences aside and working as one. That is what we have here at Thogus."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Warington

Tags: , , , ,

Month List