The past two years have ushered in an exciting new wave of manufacturing machinery. Due to worker shortages over the pandemic, manufacturers quickly adopted new ways to increase automation and factory efficiency. With demand for the plastics market growing at a steady rate, robotic systems and automation tools are stepping up to the plate.
Keep reading as we shed light on the full scope of plastic injection molding automation processes and illuminate their benefits for this $34.2 billion industry.
The Plastic Injection Molding Automation Process
Plastic injection molding is an engineering process that produces high volumes of identical, plastic parts. While the name highlights one step of this process—injecting plastic into molds to create a predetermined product—the plastic injection molding automation process as a whole is much broader. From loading materials into the feeders to sorting finished molded parts, every step along the way counts as part of the plastic injection molding process.
The entire process takes anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and involves six distinct stages:
- Feeding: inserting raw plastic materials into the hopper
- Clamping: moving the mold into place
- Injection: injecting the molten plastic into the mold
- Cooling: hardening the plastic into the mold shape
- Ejection: removing the plastic product from the mold
- Sorting and Packaging: quality checking and preparing the products for shipment
While all plastic production plants incorporate basic machinery into this process, the recent focus on robotic automation and automation systems is quickly transforming the industry.
Benefits of robotic automation and injection molding
Plastic injection molding automation solutions provide the following benefits to your production lines:
Increased quality and consistency
Robots and automated solutions dispense and work with precisely measured amounts of material, ensuring identical products. Robotic automation systems (such as bag-in-a-box assembly machines) can also increase product quality by performing consistent vision and leak tests, removing the risk of human fatigue or error.
During times of high demand, industrial robots significantly speed up downstream processes including labeling and wrapping. This allows your production to continue running smoothly without getting bottlenecked in the final stages.
Increased worker safety
As new plastic types and processes emerge in the manufacturing industry, it becomes even more essential to protect workers from high heat and harmful chemicals. A fully automated process lets workers ensure quality from a safe distance while machinery handles active mold operations. It also decreases the number of repetitive motion injuries among all workers.
Increased productivity and output
Automated robotic systems and molded automation speed up both upstream and downstream processes for overall faster production. Automated material feeders and machine tending decrease the gaps between manufacturing steps so that no part of your process is ever waiting on a delay. This also enables your operators to spot problems quickly because their full focus can shift to machine maintenance, not manual labor.
Increased production speed, product quality, and worker ability all compile to increase your company’s cost-effectiveness. When you can produce more products at a consistent rate without having to eat the damages, you can increase revenue and further invest in automation solutions for your manufacturing future. This is where plastic injection molding automation truly makes a difference.
Summit Engineered solutions for plastic injection molding automation
With a strong focus on innovation and creativity, Summit Engineered Automation is the top choice for developing your plastics manufacturing systems. We incorporate robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications to create custom automation solutions that fit your company’s needs.
Explore our case studies in plastics automation and tell us about your project today.