Medical | 3 MINUTE READ

Fresh Materials Open Up New Markets for Injection Molding

Light-emitting diodes, bipolar car battery plates, medical components—new opportunities in these applications and more are coming to injection molding thanks to advances in materials.


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Light-emitting diodes, bipolar car battery plates, advanced medical components—new opportunities in these applications and more are coming to injection molding thanks to advances in materials.


Those material developments will be a key component of the upcoming Molding 2016 Conference & Exhibit (March 29-31; New Orleans), with presentations spanning everything from liquid silicone rubber (LSR) and recycled resins to polycarbonate, conductive plastics and copolyester. End markets discussed will range from consumer goods and electrical/electronic to medical and automotive.


Plastics In a New Light
So varied and numerous are the opportunities for molded plastics in next-generation LED lighting that Molding boasts three different presentations on the topic covering materials from LSR and polycarbonate to specialized compounds. Presenting companies in New Orleans will include LSR equipment manufacturer Elmet, plastics manufacturer Covestro, and specialty compounder PolyOne.


Elmet’s Kurt Manigatter will focus on high-power LEDs and materials used for encapsulating semiconductor chips therein, which are subjected to high temperatures and UV radiation. Manigatter will discuss how Elmet developed a highly integrated injection molding process for the production of combined LED primary and secondary optics.


Covestro’s Terry Davis will discuss the new challenges created by LED lighting and how polycarbonate (PC) is meeting those demands thanks to its inherent impact resistance, flame retardance and dimensional stability. In particular, Davis will address how a new series of PCs offers lower radiation absorption in certain wavelengths and discuss a post-molding infusion process to further mitigate the potential for yellowing. Davis will also look at the challenge for injection molding thick optics, since many LED applications require dimensions outside common guidelines. Specifically, he will explain a technique for multi-layer molding of thick-walled lenses that improves quality without negative impact to cycle times.


PolyOne’s Eduardo Alvarez will talk about how despite the market potential for LED lighting, the technology’s price premium could inhibit its growth. One potential solution: swapping out more expensive materials with plastics. To that end, PolyOne has created a polymer conversion roadmap that it says will not only make the lighting more affordable but also lower its weight and improve design freedom. Lenses have been the starting point for conversion, with acrylic or PC replacing glass in luminaire designs. Alvarez will look at how engineered polymers are tackling three additional luminaire components.


Rethinking Car Batteries
The light-weighting push in the automotive industry has extended to all components and systems within vehicles and thanks to conductive plastics it could soon touch the lead-acid battery. Doug Bathauer of Integral Technologies will discuss how his company has applied injection molded electrically conductive hybrid plastics in a polymer-based bipolar plate that he says can not only improve the performance of lead-acid batteries, but also cut battery weight and size by more than 50%. 


Simulation, Recycled Plastics and High-Cavitation Medical Applications
Other material-centric presentations at Molding 2016 will include an examination of simulating the molding of LSR in a demanding application featuring Matt Proske of Sigmasoft and Oliver Franssen of Momentive. The speakers note that the evolution of advanced simulation technologies allows “detailed process analysis and helps engineers to push the limits.”


Grant Gilmore of resin recycler Butler-MacDonald is hoping to convince molders who might have had mixed experiences with recycled plastics to take another look. Gilmore will present on how the reprocessing industry has leveraged new technology and processes that “allow molders to recover high purity pellets or regrind from materials that many think are not recyclable…the technology exists now that can allow you to realize the return of material that rivals the quality of prime resin.”


Finally, Steven Givens and Tom Meehan of Eastman Chemical Company will present a detailed case study covering the validation of the company’s Tritan copolyester in high-precision multi-cavity hot runner medical molds. Working with Milacron, Prestige Mold and Pres-Tek Plastics, Eastman has designed, built and run a 32-cavity valve-gated hot runner mold to process standard flow, high flow and high temperature medical grades of Tritan without modification to the tool.


Is there a new material answer to a gnawing injection molding problem you’re facing? Register today for Molding 2016 and see how the latest polymer tech could help your business. (Image courtesy PolyOne).


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