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How to select the correct injection moulding material

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right plastic resin for a part; it’s basically a science! Here we look at the basic characteristics of polymers with some examples of popular resins and their applications.

To select the best moulding material for your manufacturing project, thinking about the questions below will help guide you to the right material.

What is the intended end use of the part?

– Does the part need to be rigid or flexible?
– Does the part need to withstand pressure or weight?
– Will the parts need to withstand certain temperature variations?
– Will the parts be exposed to other elements or chemicals?

Are there special appearance considerations?

– Is a specific finish required?
– Does a colour need to be matched such as branding and corporate colours?
– Is embossing a consideration?

Do any regulatory requirements apply?

– Will the product be exported and need to meet REACH standards?
– Does the part need to be food safe?
– Will children use the product?

A plastics primer – thermoset vs. thermoplastic

Plastics fall into two basic categories, thermoset plastics, and thermoplastics. To help you remember the difference, think of thermosets just as the term implies, they are “set” during processing.

When thermoset plastics are cured, it “sets” the part into a permanent form. The chemical reaction is not reversible, so parts made with thermosets cannot be re-melted. These materials can be a recycling challenge unless a bio-based polymer is used.

Thermoplastics are heated then cooled in a mould to form a part. Once the parts are cooled, they revert to their original state and can be re-melted and cooled again. For this reason, thermoplastics are easier to reuse and recycle. They comprise the majority of the manufactured polymer resins on the market today and are used in the injection moulding process.

To recap:

Fine tuning the resin selection

Thermoplastics are categorised by family and type. They fall into three main categories or families: commodity resins, engineering resins, and specialty/high-performance resins.

Speciality/high-performance resins
The high-performance resins come with a higher cost. That is why commodity resins are often used for everyday applications.

Commodity resins
Commodity resins are easy to process and are inexpensive. They are often found in common mass produced items like packaging.

Engineering resins
Engineering resins are more expensive, but offer better strength and resistance to chemicals and environmental exposure.

Morphology
Within each of these families, there are resins that have different morphology. Morphology describes the arrangement of molecules in a resin and fall into two categories, amorphous and semi-crystalline.

Amorphous resins:
• Shrink less when cooled
• Offer better transparency
• Work well for tight-tolerance applications
• Tend to be brittle
• Lack chemical resistance.

Semi-crystalline resins:
• Tend to be opaque
• Offer good abrasion and chemical resistance
• Are less brittle
• Have higher shrinkage rates.

Examples of available resins

Amorphous
An example of an amorphous, commodity resin is polystyrene or PS. Like most amorphous resins, it is transparent and brittle, but can be used in high-precision applications. It is one of the most widely used resins and can be found in plastic cutlery, foam cups, and plates.

Higher up on the amorphous scale are the engineering resins such as polycarbonate or PC. It is temperature and flame resistant and has electrical insulating properties, so is often used in electronic components.

An example of a specialty or high-performance amorphous resin is polyetherimide or (PEI). Like most amorphous resins, it offers strength and heat resistance. However, unlike most other amorphous materials is also chemically resistant, which is why they’re often found in the aerospace industry.

Semi-crystalline
An inexpensive semi-crystalline commodity resin is polypropylene or PP. As with most semi-crystalline polymers, it is flexible and chemically resistant. The low cost makes this resin the choice for many applications such as bottles, packaging, and pipes.

A popular engineering, semi-crystalline resin is polyamide (PA or nylon). PA offers chemical and abrasion resistance as well as low shrinkage and warp. There are bio-based versions available making this material an earth-friendly alternative. The toughness of the material makes it a lightweight alternative to metal in automotive applications.

PEEK or polyaryletherketone is one of the most widely used semi-crystalline high-performance resins. This resin offers strength as well as heat and chemical resistance and is often used in demanding environments such as bearings, pumps, and medical implants.
Plastic additives to improve characteristics

As we have seen, resin families (commodity, engineering, and high-performance/specialty) contain both amorphous and semi-crystalline alternatives. However, the higher the performance, the higher the cost. To help keep costs low, many manufacturers use additives or fillers to obtain the qualities they need at a lower cost. These additives improve performance or convey other characteristics to the final product. (what are additives or fillers?)

Some common additive applications:

Antimicrobial – Used in food-related applications or high-contact consumer products.
Antistatic – Decreases the static electricity conduction and is often used in sensitive electronics.
Plasticisers and fibres – Plasticisers make a resin more flexible, whereas fibres add strength and stiffness.
Flame-retardants – Make products resistant to combustion.
Optical brighteners – Improve whiteness
Colourants – Add colour or special effects such as fluorescence or pearlescence.

The final selection

Choosing the right material for a project is one of the most important factors in creating perfect plastic parts. The advances in polymer science have contributed to the development of a large selection of resins from which to choose.

It is important to work with an injection moulder that has experience with a variety of resins and applications including resins that are compliant with FDA, RoHS, REACH and NSF.

If you are unsure which resin to select, you consult with your injection moulder to determine the best material.

At WSM Plastics, we are always on-hand to offer expert advice so your product is made with the correct materials.

We are here to help. Contact us today to turn your product idea into a reality.

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Introducing our new catalogue

We’ve been working extremely hard and we’re pleased to announce our new digital catalogue is now here!

Our new catalogue includes information about how we can help make your product design a reality with our range of tool making, plastic injection and post moulding services.

The latest copy of the catalogue is available to download and view online. To view the latest edition, click here.

You can:

  • View the catalogue on full screen
  • See a page overview
  • Click the arrow to flip over to the next page
  • Hover over the contents to take you straight to a certain section or page
  • Download it as a PDF
  • Print pages
  • Share the catalogue or certain pages

Click here to view the catalogue.

Enjoy!

To find out how we can help make your product idea a reality, contact us today.

 

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Key things to look out for when choosing a toolmaker

When it comes to choosing a toolmaker, there is a lot to consider. Tooling capabilities vary from company to company, and many offer different options. From designing complex tools to precision-engineered machine parts, a wide range of applications need tool making.

Here we look at the some of the key things to look out for when choosing a toolmaker.

Capabilities

Do they have designers who can support your design Can the company work with the materials you need? Or if you’re unsure what materials you need, can the company provide guidance?

What are their in-house and outsourcing services so that you can get the best value?

What are their prototype options so you can review the tool before you purchase?

Can they adapt to your budget?

Experience

Look at their expertise, and if they have sufficient experience in what the product requires, so you get a good service and receive a high-quality tool

Quality

What is the quality of materials used? Do they have a dedicated quality process?

Time

How long will it take the toolmaker to complete a particular job? Generally, when it comes to making tools, there will be some lead-time.

Customer service

Toolmakers should offer a good pre and after-toolmaking services as well as customer service. Are the company friendly and approachable? Is there someone you can talk to with expertise and knowledge?

It is important that a toolmaker is interested in the success of your company and is able to provide expert advice

While not an exhaustive list, we hope it provides some insight into what you should look for when choosing a toolmaker. Keeping these considerations in mind will ensure you select the best toolmaker for your business.

If you are looking for an efficient, cost-effective and quality toolmaker, we can help. We have over 30 years’ experience in listening to our customer’s ideas and helping them achieve it.

At WSM Plastics, we offer a full service from concept to creation.

  • We design our UK tooling in-house using our experienced design team. We offer advice on materials and design concept to ensure we produce suitable tooling.
  • We use modern production techniques to produce new tooling quickly and cost-effectively.
  • We have the ability to trial new tooling in-house, using this opportunity to refine the tool and process to achieve the required quality expectations.
  • We can conduct engineering changes, design and manufacture.
  • We offer both tool manufacture and moulding solutions.
  • For projects with a tighter budget, we have options available with our longstanding partners. The result being a cost-effective tool to UK standards and a full UK warranty.

For more information, contact us today.

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New mould tools for customer’s automation plant project

After heavy investment in new equipment in the tool room at the start of the year, WSM Plastics produced three new mould tools for Brightwell Dispensers automation plant. The mould tools themselves produce interconnecting parts for the foam pumps used in many of the dispenser ranges assembled at Brightwell Dispensers.

Some of the benefits of these new tools include:

  • Multi impression precision tooling
  • Fully hardened for tool longevity
  • European specification materials and components
  • All three tools are 16 impression, which give higher component output in less time
  • Component, quality and dimensional accuracy is greater and more consistent through individual components.

Investments in the right machinery have ensured we have the best equipment for our new tool room. These investments will help us provide our customers with competitive lead times and improved service for existing and new customers. This example shows the type of tooling we can provide our customers and their needs.

For more information about our tooling services, contact us today.

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New Tool Room Manager joins WSM Plastics

Please join us in welcoming Dan Giles to WSM Plastics as our new Tool Room Manager. Dan joins us from Formaplex, where he worked as an Import Tooling Production Manager. As Tool Room Manager, Dan is leading the manufacturing and maintenance of the injection mould tools used throughout the group to manufacture the group’s products.

Dan is an expert in everything tooling and brings over 20 years’ experience working in the tooling industry. After completing a course in mechanical engineering and an apprenticeship in tooling, Dan has developed his experience working as a Service Field Engineer, Trial Engineer and Import Tooling production manager.

Tool making even runs in the family, as Dan is the 3rd generation toolmaker after his father and grandfather!

Steve Corral, General Manager said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Dan as Tool Room Manager at WSM Plastics. Dan brings a wealth of experience and will provide great knowledge and support to our staff and customers.”

Welcome Dan!

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New tool room provides greater benefits to customers

At WSM Plastics, we offer customers a complete solution from concept, prototyping, tool making, plastic injection to manufacturing and aftercare of the product.  As we merged from Whistle Stop Plastics and Modern Moulds and Tools to become WSM Plastics, we saw growth and expansion, and that called for a new tool room.

£1m was invested to create a state-of-the-art new tool making facility, which meets customer demands.

The result of this investment means that we see the benefits of having the mould shop and tool room under one roof, saving on logistics, improved communication, and shorter lead times.

Other benefits include updated infrastructure including:

  • A new electrical buzz bar system
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • Dual compressed air system
  • Dual broadband communications upgrade
  • New 7.5T overhead gantry crane.

Our new on-site tool room is the heart of our business and has the latest machinery dedicated to the manufacture and maintenance of the tool through to the product.  Our expansion ideally places us to serve our customers throughout the UK even easier and more efficiently.

Check out the video below to see our new tool room built from start to finish!

To find out how WSM Plastics can help you bring your product idea to life, contact us today.

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WSM Plastics awarded the ISO 9001:2015 Certificate

We are proud to announce that we have been awarded the ISO 9001:2015 certification.

This internationally recognised standard shows our commitment to meeting the needs of our customers through an effective quality management system, where we ensure we consistently monitor and manage quality across the business.

Over the last 18 months, we have committed to work towards this accreditation to demonstrate how we consistently monitor and manage quality across the business for our customers. We have:

  • Introduced more focus on risk-based thinking. This has provided us a better framework in putting in place safe and preventable measures and allocate resources where they are most needed.
  • More focus on leadership and integrated and aligned quality assurance with overall business objectives
  • Provided senior management with an efficient management process
  • Set out our areas of responsibility across the organisation
  • Ensured regular ongoing positive communications with our staff and customers.

We are delighted of what we have achieved with this certificate. This shows we have the processes in place to constantly improve, develop and maintain high quality products and services.

Steve Corral, General Manager at WSM Plastics said:

“We have been working towards this for the last two years and I am very pleased at how everyone at WSM Plastics has shown great drive and enthusiasm at achieving this new standard. This also demonstrates the robust systems and procedures that we have been putting in place over the last few years are being internationally recognised.”

 

 

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Join WSM Plastics Ltd at Interplas 2017

WSM Plastics Ltd is exhibiting at Interplas, the UK’s leading plastics industry event at the NEC in Birmingham. Come and join us on stand G39 from 19-22 September where we will display our range of services and capabilities.

Born from the merger of the injection moulding specialist Whistle Stop Plastics, and the tool making specialist Modern Moulds & Tools, we now offer a unique and tailored one-stop service, to assist businesses from product concept to product aftercare.

We support our customers’ projects at each stage, including:

  • Design Support
  • Prototyping
  • Tool Making
  • Plastic Injection Moulding
  • Post Moulding

We will also display some of the recent products we’ve been working on across a range of sectors – from soap dispensers, medical equipment to in-flight entertainment systems.

If you would like to arrange a meeting with us at the show, contact us today.

We look forward to seeing you on stand G39.

 

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We are WSM Plastics Ltd

We are pleased to announce that as of 5 June 2017,  Modern Moulds & Tools Ltd, the specialist tool manufacturer and Whistle Stop Plastics, the plastic injection specialist merged. Together, we now trade under the name of WSM Plastics Ltd.

Why WSM Plastics?
We have been working together for many years, delivering quality UK manufactured mould tools and finished products.

Our partnership is a strong asset, so it is a natural transition to join forces so that the capabilities of our businesses can merge into one new company. We have extended our facilities in Lancing and sit under one roof.

As one company, we can offer a complete service from product concept, prototyping, tool making, plastic injection moulding and manufacturing of the final product, all under one roof. The value of this makes us a stronger company, as we can provide a wider range of services.

What does this mean for our customers?
As part of the merger, we have improved our tool-making infrastructure to support you with all your requirements in our state-of-the-art new tool making facilities.

We will provide you with:
• An efficient and seamless service from idea to the final product.
• A specialist precision toolmaker and plastic injection moulding expert.
• A dedicated account manager and project management team to support you every step of the way.

Our commitment to you stays the same
Our services, values and commitment to you remain the same.

We’re working hard behind the scenes on our new website, which will be ready to launch soon. We will keep you updated.

Thank you for your continued support as we transition to WSM Plastics. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call us.

We look forward to an exciting and prosperous future with you, our employees, and our partners.

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Welcome to our new website

We are delighted to announce that our new website is now live!

We have been busy making sure that our website delivers you easy access to information you need about us and the services we offer.

Here are some of the features:

  • Keep up to date with what we’re up to in our company news and updates.
  • The capabilities section is divided into three categories: Plastic Injection Moulding, Post Moulding and Tool Making, with each category providing more information about what happens in each stage of the process.
  • We have a sectors section so you can find out about the wide range of businesses we work with.
  • The website is easy to use across desktop, mobiles and tablets.
  • Via the search bar at the top of the homepage, you can search for specific terms.

We hope you like our fresh new look and improved navigation so you can find information quickly and easily. 2017 is an exciting year WSM Plastics, so make sure to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Connect with us:

LinkedIn: WSM Plastics Ltd
Twitter: @wsmplastics

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