Abtec has a team of experts who design, develop, and manufacture custom injection molds and support tooling. When designing parts for injection molding, we work with the most advanced technologies and processes, including state-of-the-art 3D design software to produce precise injection molds and CNC machining technologies to manufacture quality molds in a short time frame.
Abtec builds molds for injection molding using Modular Unit Die, or MUD®, technology. Five standard MUD® frame sizes meet the needs of most molding requirements. However, when parts are larger or have multiple or extra deep cavities, full chase tools are utilized. The engineers and tool designers at Abtec will work with customers to develop the best and most economical injection mold solutions to meet even the strictest industry standards.
Which Materials Are Used to Make Injection Molds?
Steel is a common material for injection molds. The size of the mold is the main determinant of what material will be utilized, as the percentage of steel used in the mold is the main cost factor for the final mold. Other factors include whether the steel will be heat-treated and whether the mold will contain moving parts. The type of resin to be used is a main factor as well.
Common steels used for plastic injection molds include:
P20 Steel: This is an ideal choice because of its polishing ability and good wear and tear resistance.
420 Steel: This is a hardenable, martensitic stainless steel that has a limited operating range.
H-13 Steel: This versatile, chromium-molybdenum steel is widely used in hot work and cold work tooling applications.
A-2 Steel: This air-hardening tool steel has excellent dimensional stability in heat treatment.
D-2 Steel: This air-hardening, high-carbon, high-chromium tool steel features high wear- and abrasion-resistant properties.
Aluminum or Steel?
When deciding between aluminum or steel for injection molding, there are several key differences that will help you choose the best option.
Steel is ideal for large production runs of more than 50,000 units, whereas aluminum is more cost-efficient for small production runs of one to two thousand units. Aluminum molds can see significant wear on larger production runs, at which point they would need to be replaced or modified. Durability makes steel a better choice for advanced injection molding resins because certain additives can cause damage to aluminum injection molds.
Aluminum has quicker heating and cooling times, which leads to faster mold productions. These more uniform heating and cooling times can reduce the number of rejected parts due to shrinkage, warping, or other defects. Steel is ideal for molds that require very precise and detailed features. When it comes to repairs and replacements, damaged steel molds are more costly than aluminum molds, which are much easier to repair or modify.
Contact Abtec for Your Injection Mold Needs
With years of experience producing high-quality injection molds for a range of industries, Abtec is ready to work with you to create custom injection molds to meet your needs. Contact us to learn how we can help you from part conception and design to engineering, injection mold making and the manufacture of your custom parts.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is one of the most widely used thermoplastic polymers across numerous domestic, commercial, and industrial applications today. The history of ABS can be traced back to the 1940s. During this time, manufacturers often used styrene acrylonitrile copolymers. While this material’s increased hardness over styrene made it suitable for some applications, it still possessed many physical and mechanical limitations. This led to the introduction of a third monomer, butadiene, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) was created. This material was first available in the 1950s and has gone on to become one of the most widely sought engineering polymers.
The three individual components of ABS possess unique characteristics that contribute to the overall properties of the final material. Acrylonitrile provides the chemical and thermal resistance, butadiene improves its strength and toughness, and styrene is responsible for the glossy finish of the final product. These attributes have made it ideal for applications where durability, superior surface quality, and luster are a priority.
Properties of ABS Plastic
One of the most defining characteristics of ABS is its thermoplastic property. ABS thermoplastics are polymers that melt above a certain temperature to become soft and pliable, and then solidify upon cooling. Thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded numerous times without degradation to its mechanical properties. This is in direct contrast to thermoset plastics, which burn when heated. The thermoplastic property of ABS makes it one of the most popular materials in custom injection moldingprocesses.
ABS also possesses a variety of desirable physical and mechanical properties—most of which are superior to other widely used polymer materials. These include enhanced impact resistance, toughness, hardness, heat resistance, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, and tensile strength. Its chemical composition can be modified by adjusting the proportions of its components to improve specific properties. Therefore, different grades of the material can be produced for suitability in various applications.
Other exceptional properties of ABS include:
Lustrous aesthetic qualities
Receptive to paints and adhesives
ABS’s machinability, exceptional properties, and relatively low cost make it ideal for numerous applications. Its use is so widespread that we all interact with it on a daily basis. Everything from luggage, power tools, tool boxes, radio and cell phone housings, furniture, and kitchen appliances are all manufactured using ABS. This polymer is also used in 3D printing and preproduction prototypes due to its excellent dimensional stability and receptiveness to paints and adhesives.
In addition to home and domestic products, ABS is also used in several industrial applications, including, but not limited to:
Food handling – ABS is FDA compliant for food contact applications such as appliances and food packaging.
Aircraft/aerospace – ABS parts can be found both on the interior and exterior of many types of aircraft. Some of these components include luggage bins, cargo containers, signage, cockpit visors, and seating parts.
Automotive – The lightweight property of this plastic is used to make cars lighter and improve fuel efficiency. Typical ABS automotive components include dashboards, wheel covers, body parts, and trimmings.
Medical and pharmaceutical – Medical grades of ABS possess improved biocompatibility, making them suitable for food and medicine administering devices. It is also used in the manufacturing of cases and housings for several medical devices.
Toys – The non-toxic and durable nature of this material is ideal for children’s toys such as Legos, tricycles, and action figures.
Learn More About ABS Plastic Molding
ABS molding is widely used to create some of the most durable and versatile plastic products on the market today. The skilled technical staff at Abtec Inc. specializes in ABS plastic injection molding services. We can design, develop, and manufacture any mold and supporting tooling for your unique application.
If you would like to learn more about ABS and how Abtec Inc. can turn your concepts into reality, contact us and request a quote today!
Engineering resins are one of two types of plastics commonly used in the injection molding process. Commodity resins (the other common type) are inexpensive and typically used in consumer products like toys, packaging, and food containers. Engineering resins are ideal for use in industrial applications because they are strong and highly resistant to temperature, corrosion, and wear. Engineering resins also have special thermal and mechanical properties that make them useful in replacing wood and metal to save on costs and/or weight.
Abtec, Inc. offers a broad range of different engineering plastic resins that can be used in industrial projects.
Engineering Plastics Available from Abtec
The engineering plastics we offer include:
Acetal, also known as polyoxymethylene (POM), is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic often used to create precise parts that require high resistances to environmental factors such as heat and abrasion, good dimensional stability, and low friction. Acetal also features a high enough tensile strength that it is useful for replacing metal in some applications. POM is used for applications such as plastic zippers, small gears, medical devices, and consumer electronics.
Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) is a semi-crystalline polymer with high molecular weight. It has high heat and chemical resistances and favorable electrical properties. PBT features higher flexural, dielectric, and tensile strengths than most other thermoplastics. Glass-filled PBT exhibits 2–3 times as much strength in these same areas.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is hard, stiff, strong, and dimensionally stable. It features a good resistance to chemicals other than alkalis and exists as both an amorphous and a semi-crystalline thermoplastic material. Semi-crystalline PET features good strength, ductility, and hardness while amorphous PET offers better ductility but less hardness and stiffness.
Polycarbonate (PC) is a naturally transparent, amorphous thermoplastic. It is available commercially in a wide range of colors, and its polymers are useful in producing materials that require impact resistance and/or transparency. Common applications include plastic lenses in eyewear, automotive components, and exterior light fixtures.
Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a semi-crystalline polymer with good thermal stability due to its high melting point of 300° C. It possesses a high chemical resistance and is created with fiberglass or carbon reinforcements to enhance mechanical and thermal properties. PEEK is non-flammable and has good dielectric properties.
Polyether imide (PEI) is an amorphous polymer exhibiting high temperature resistance, creep resistance, and rigidity. Since it is non-flammable, resistant to radiation, and easily processed, PEI is approved by the FDA for use in medical and food contact applications.
Polyethersulfone (PES) and Polysulfone (PSU) exhibit high thermal, oxidative, and hydrolytic stability. These thermoplastics are amorphous, transparent, and can be molded, extruded, or thermoformed into a variety of different shapes. PES and PSU are typically used for internal components in coffee machines, battery containers, and printer cartridges.
Polyphenylene ether (PPE) has low moisture absorption, giving it good electrical insulating properties over a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. It also has good resistance to water and most salt solutions. Its applications include food processing, automotive parts, and household appliances.
Polyamide (Nylon) is a synthetic thermoplastic that can be heated to its melting point, cooled, and reheated again with minimal degradation. Glass-filled Nylon has higher tensile strength but is more brittle than traditional Nylon. Nylon’s wide variety of uses include clothing, toys, and furniture points of impact.
Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is a crystalline material that is highly resistant to temperature, chemicals, and corrosion. It also has high flame retardance, making it common for use in high-temperature electrical applications.
Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) is a flexible material that can typically be pulled to at least twice its original length at room temperature. It offers slip resistance, shock absorption, and ergonomic comfort. It can be easily molded onto hard thermoplastic materials, making it ideal for use as a soft touch grip on a product. Other typical applications include sealing rings and bottle cap liners.
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPE/TPU) offers the elasticity of rubber and the toughness and durability of metal. It ranges from being very soft and flexible to very rigid. TPU has excellent resistance to abrasion, good performance in low temperatures, and high transparency. Typical uses include automotive interior and exterior parts, hydraulic seals, and medical devices.
Abtec has more than 100 years of experience in injection molding. We are ISO-certified and ITAR/DOD-registered.
If you need custom injection molding involving any engineering resins and/or any commodity resins we work with, please contact us.
There are instances in manufacturing where metals cannot meet the weight and deflection demands specified by the application. When this is the case, thermoplastics often provide a solution. Thermoplastics are among a group of materials that melt when heated. They are common in manufacturing because heating makes them viscous, allowing for the formation of specific shapes which the material retains after cooling.
Injection molding is the most common method for thermoplastic processing. There are a broad range of resin materials used in injection molding, including thousands of materials categorized as thermoplastics. At Abtec, Inc., we specialize in injection molding and in the identification of materials
Consequently, making the right choice to fit a specific application can be a daunting task. Abtec helps our clients choose the right thermoplastic materials for their design and application based on our thorough industry knowledge and significant experience with the injection molding process. This page will provide readers with a better understanding of the various thermoplastic types and the process of injection molding as a beginning point.
What to Know About Thermoplastics
There are thousands of resin compounds included under the definition of thermoplastics, making it difficult to distinguish which ones might best serve various applications. However, classifying these resins into nine categories helps simplify things considerably. The nine categories include:
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrenes (ABS). ABS is the most recognizable material by most consumers. Even at low temperatures ABS plastics are rigid and tough. They offer dimensional stability, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, heat resistance, and provide balanced tensile strength.
Acetal Copolymer Polyoxymethylenes. This thermoplastic is easier and faster to process than traditional homopolymer resins due to its lower melting point. These thermoplastics are creep-resistant, remain stable when used in high temperature applications over a long period of time, and have good moisture resistance. Additional qualities include excellent lubricity, high tensile strength, and fatigue resistance.
Acetal Homopolymer Polyoxymethylenes. Distinguishing features of these thermoplastics include toughness under repeated, moderate impact along with high tensile strength, stiffness, resilience and the highest fatigue endurance of all unfilled thermoplastics. They also feature low moisture absorption properties, along with high abrasion resistance and creep-resistance.
Acrylics. This type of thermoplastic is a common substitute for glass in a variety of applications. These thermoplastics transmit and control light and possess outstanding weatherability and scratch resistance. They are also stable against discoloration and possess low haze and scratch resistance, making them ideal for optical applications.
Polycarbonates. These plastics present exceptional toughness over a wide range of temperatures. This category of thermoplastics includes a broad range of grades ranging from general-purpose and extrusion molding to special grades with flame retardant properties or contamination resistance for food processing and medical applications. Dimensional stability, heat resistance, toughness and transparency are distinguishing features of polycarbonates.
Polyethylenes. Low water absorption, dimensional stability, hardness and stiffness are some of the main characteristics of this type of plastic. They are available in both amorphous (transparent) and semi-crystalline (opaque) forms. Gas barrier and chemical resistance properties (except for alkalis) make these plastics valuable for a broad range of manufacturing applications.
Polypropylenes. These plastics feature a lower density with good thermal, chemical, and electrical use properties. Due to their limited heat resistance, they require heat-stabilization to perform well at high temperatures. They have less toughness than high-density polyethylene and are less brittle than low-density polyethylene, but they have a high resistance to fatigue, making them an ideal solution for plastic hinges.
Polystyrenes. These low-cost amorphous thermoplastics have a lower heat resistance than the other types and require a continuous service temperature that is below 200º F to maintain their integrity. However, their characteristics include excellent colorability, processing ease, hardness, and clarity as well as good electrical properties at room temperature and under normal levels of humidity.
Nylons. A broad range of grades are common within this classification of thermoplastics and each has its own valued properties. In general, Nylon features good fuel, oil, and chemical resistance properties along with excellent fatigue resistance, good toughness, and a low friction coefficient.
Please note: The above is not a complete list of all the materials which Abtec can utilize for your project. Click here for a complete list of our plastic injection molding materials and thermoplastics!
An understanding of the general properties of each of these types of plastics can help narrow down the selection process for specific applications. Users must keep in mind that various grades highlight different properties within each classification.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Thermoplastics
The various types of thermoplastics used for injection molding include a broad range of advantages and disadvantages for specific applications. However, there are some general advantages and disadvantages common to thermoplastics. The advantages include:
Energy efficient processing
Broad range of beneficial properties
High volume manufacturing with excellent precision at lower cost
Various types can replace metals with a considerable weight-saving advantages
Higher fatigue resistance than most metals
Greater deflection toleration than most metals without deforming
These advantages make thermoplastics ideal for an expansive range of designs and applications. However, the following are disadvantages among thermoplastics, which may impact material selection:
Thermoplastics degrade more easily in direct sunlight or under UV exposure
Not all thermoplastics resist hydrocarbons, organic solvents, and polar solvents
Some types experience creep under long-term loading
Can fracture rather than deform under high stress
It should be noted that these disadvantages are not common for all thermoplastics, which makes proper selection of the right material a critical consideration for applications which may experience any of the above conditions.
Applications of the Common Types of Thermoplastics
Thermoplastics are extremely important in manufacturing, covering a wide range of applications throughout almost every possible industry. Consequently, it is easier to list some of the various applications of each type of thermoplastic rather than attempt to identify their use by specific industry. Some of the common uses of each type include:
Cellulose Acetate: Cigarette filters, playing cards, eyeglass frames, adhesives, photography
Nylon: Carpet, rope, strings for musical instruments, fishing line, fabric
What is the Difference Between Thermoplastics and Thermoset Plastics?
There are some close similarities between thermoplastics and thermoset plastics which make it necessary to distinguish between them. The main difference between the two relates to how they react to heat. You can melt and reform thermoplastic numerous times, but thermoset plastics cure after heating and can be formed only once.
Custom injection molding of thermoplastics is a primary specialty of Abtec. Though the process is simple, significant expertise is required to achieve tight tolerances and high repeatability. Our expertise in injection molding comes from a thorough understanding of engineering concepts surrounding thermoplastics and how each type should or should not be used.
In addition to the injection molding process, we also provide custom mold design and mold making to meet the precise component specifications, timelines, and budget costs of each client. Our value-added services allow one-stop, in-house solutions that include:
Sonic welding and heat staking
Final assembly and kitting
Packaging with blister packs, header cards, or boxing
Protection from contaminants in our Class 10 ISO 4 clean work cell
The expertise and special care taken by Abtec on every project provides our clients with the assurance of quality and top-rated service for all their injection molding and thermoplastic needs.
The injection molding process of thermoplastics is critical in a broad range of industrial applications. A thorough knowledge of the injection molding process and of thermoplastic materials allows us to produce durable components with a variety of properties and characteristics. Ultimately, injection molding supports high-volume, precision production at a lower cost.
Abtec, Inc. has the expertise necessary to provide advanced thermoplastic injection molding along with a variety of value-added solutions to meet the needs of our clients.
Contact us to learn more about the solutions we can provide for your organization.
Abtec’s custom injection molding services work with a wide variety of materials that range from commodity resins to high-tech, engineering-grade polymers. We work with the latest equipment and technology to design high-quality molds that create intricate and durable end products.
One of the materials we’re most excited to use is liquid crystal polymers (LCPs). These aromatic polyester polymers offer a wealth of benefits to plastic molders because they create highly durable, corrosion-resistant, and heat-resistant components. Using LCPs, manufacturers can build essential parts for products ranging from cars to medical devices to electronic appliances.
What Are Liquid Crystal Polymers?
Liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) are materials whose molecules form crystalline alignments that hold their shape as the material solidifies. This high degree of crystallinity typically forms during the melting phase, hence these polymers’ name. Production of some LCPs began in the 1970s, but LCP resins didn’t become popular in commercial applications until 1984. Over time, research into the use of LCPs has enabled these materials to be used in injection molding.
Some of the unique properties that LCPs offer include:
Molding to tight tolerances
Low thermal expansion
Low water absorption
Low electric conductivity
These properties make LCPs useful for a wide range of applications. LCPs can be easily injected into molds of all shapes and sizes when in their liquid state, but once they harden, they retain their form in the face of a slew of adverse conditions. This means that LCPs work just as well when building circuit boards as they do in microwave-safe containers, industrial bearings, and surgical equipment.
For these reasons, LCPs are an essential material for products in a wide range of industries, such as:
Electric housings and components
Are LCPs Good for Injection Molding?
LCPs offer a wealth of advantages to injection molders. They’re especially useful for creating strong packaging and external casings because they offer high-frequency properties that outperform the likes of ceramics, thermosets, and metal. LCPs are also more cost efficient than these materials.
The low-dissipation factors of LCPs and the commercial availability of laminates make them especially suitable for use in microwave-frequency electronics. Several grades of LCPs comply with medical standards, including ISO 10993-1 and USP Class VI. What’s more, standard grades of LCPs come with glass-fiber or mineral reinforcements, while specialty grades can be designed for applications that require:
LCPs are unique in that they can gain a highly ordered structure in the liquid phase. This means that they can be injected as a liquid without sacrificing manufacturers’ confidence that they’ll solidify into a rigid, durable plastic.
Contact Abtec for the Manufacturing of Your LCP Parts
Abtec Inc. has more than 100 years of experience in the design, development, and manufacturing of custom injection molds. We can work with a variety of CAD formats as well as client-submitted drawings, sketches, models, and molds.
We strive to provide the highest-quality products and services at the best possible prices. We are an ITAR-registered, DOD-compliant, and ISO 9001:2015–certified injection molding firm that provides quality products to clients around the world. If you would like to learn more about our services and offerings, contact us today and request a free quote.