Compression molding

Compression molding is a method of molding in which the molding material, generally preheated, is first placed in an open, heated mold cavity. The mold is closed with a top force or plug member, pressure is applied to force the material into contact with all mold areas, while heat and pressure are maintained until the molding material has cured. The process employs thermosetting resins in a partially cured stage, either in the form of granules, putty-like masses, or preforms. Compression molding is a high-volume, high-pressure method suitable for molding complex, high-strength fiberglass reinforcements. Advanced composite thermoplastics can also be compression molded with unidirectional tapes, woven fabrics, randomly oriented fiber mat or chopped strand. The advantage of compression molding is its ability to mold large, fairly intricate parts. Also, it is one of the lowest cost molding methods compared with other methods such as transfer molding and injection molding; moreover it wastes relatively little material, giving it an advantage when working with expensive compounds. However, compression molding often provides poor product consistency and difficulty in controlling flashing, and it is not suitable for some types of parts. Compression molding produces fewer knit lines and less fiber-length degradation than injection molding. Compression-molding is also suitable for ultralarge basic shape production in sizes beyond the capacity of extrusion techniques. Materials that are typically manufactured through compression molding include: Polyester fiberglass resin systems (SMC/BMC), Torlon, Vespel, Poly(p-phenylene sulfide) (PPS), and many grades of PEEK. Compression molding was first developed to manufacture composite parts for metal replacement applications, compression molding is typically used to make larger flat or moderately curved parts. This method of molding is greatly used in manufacturing automotive parts such as hoods, fenders, scoops, spoilers, as well as smaller more intricate parts. The material to be molded is positioned in the mold cavity and the heated platens are closed by a hydraulic ram. Bulk molding compound (BMC) or sheet molding compound (SMC), are conformed to the mold form by the applied pressure and heated until the curing reaction occurs. SMC feed material usually is cut to conform to the surface area of the mold. The mold is then cooled and the part removed. Materials may be loaded into the mold either in the form of pellets or sheet, or the mold may be loaded from a plasticating extruder. Materials are heated above their melting points, formed and cooled. The more evenly the feed material is distributed over the mold surface, the less flow orientation occurs during the compression stage. Thermoplastic matrices are commonplace in mass production industries e.g. automotive applications where the leading technologies are Long Fibre reinforced Thermoplastics (LFT) and Glass fiber Mat reinforced Thermoplastics (GMT). In compression molding there are six important considerations that an engineer should bear in mind[citation needed]:
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Determining the proper amount of material. Determining the minimum amount of energy required to heat the material. Determining the minimum time required to heat the material. Determining the appropriate heating technique.

it will make ejection especially difficult. Shortly there after the hydraulic press compresses the pliable plastic against the mold. Process definition Compression molding is a forming process in which a plastic material is placed directly into a heated metal mold. with an allotted amount of plastic or gelatin placed over or inserted into a mold. The tools consist of a male mold plunger and a female mold. and large containers. Process characteristics The use of thermoset plastic compounds characterizes this molding process from many of the other molding processes. usually metallic. This process is also used to produce buttons. This helps to reduce excess flash. Inserts. and forced to conform to the shape of the mold as the mold closes. knobs. retaining the shape of the inside surface of the mold. an ejector pin in the bottom of the mold quickly ejects the finish piece out of the mold and then the process is finished. Most presses utilize a hydraulic ram in order to produce sufficient force during the molding operation. As a side note. radio cases. dinnerware. . buckles. After the hydraulic press releases. Common commercial examples are shown in Ref 3. resulting in a perfectly molded piece. These thermosets can be in either preform or granule shapes. then is softened by the heat. handles. remember not to allow any undercuts on the shape. can also be molded with the plastic. to ensure that shot attains the proper shape. Also depending on the type of plunger used in the press there will or won't be excess material on the mold. and gears. Setup and equipment Compression mold presses are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes. appliance housing. Thermoplastic matrices with an inherent indefinite shelf-life and shorter cycle moulding times are widely used and examples are shown in Ref 3.y y Predicting the required force. Designing the mold for rapid cooling after the material has been compressed into the mold. Process schematic The compression molding starts. Unlike some of the other processes we find that the materials are usually preheated and measured before molding. Afterward the material is heated to a pliable state in and by the mold. Workpiece geometry This process is commonly used for manufacturing electrical parts.

Transfer Molding is having a "piston and cylinder"-like device built into the mold so that the rubber is squirted into the cavity through small holes. whereas in compression molding prepregs or molding compounds are in the mold which is then heated and pressure is applied. The transfer mold is opened and the part can be removed. transfer molding is the more expensive process. whether it be flash or the material remaining in the sprue and runners. Transfer molding (TM) (or resin transfer molding. . The molding material is preheated and loaded into a chamber known as the pot. This is an automated operation that combines compression-. Transfer Molding. so smaller tolerances and more intricate parts can be achieved. is a process where the amount of molding material (usually a thermoset plastic) is measured and inserted before the molding takes place. and no flash is produced. and even granular form can be placed into the heating chamber. The flash type mold must have an accurate charge of plastic and produces a horizontal flash (this is excess material that protrudes out of the mold). The mold is held closed while the plastic or rubber cures. unlike compression molding uses a closed mold. Ejector pins are usually incorporated into the design of the molding tool and are used to push the part from the mold once it has hardened. The plunger is raised up and the "transfer pad" material may be removed and thrown away. The straight plunger-type mold allows for some inaccuracy in the charge of plastic and produces a vertical flash. The mold remains closed as the material is inserted and is opened to release the part from the sprue and runner. Transfer molding. like compression molding. The mold walls are heated to a temperature above the melting point of the mold material. and transfer-molding processes. This combination has the good surface finish. The molds in both compression and transfer molding remain closed until the curing reaction within the material is complete. Another key point is that a premeasured amount of thermosetting plastic in powder. The fixed cost of the tooling in transfer molding is greater than in compression molding and as both methods produce waste material. The landed plunger type mold must have an accurate charge of plastic. Further details are explained in Ref 3. No further pressure is applied in TM.Typical tools and geometry produced Three types of molds used are the flash plunger-type. preform. and the "landed" plunger-type molds. and mechanical properties obtained in compression molding and the high-automation capability and low cost of injection molding and transfer molding. The flash and the gate may need to be trimmed. Transfer molding Transfer molding. These types of molding are ideal for high production runs as they have short production cycles. A plunger is then used to force the material from the pot through channels known as a sprue and runner system into the mold cavities. A piece of uncured rubber is placed into a portion of the transfer mold called the "pot." The mold is closed and under hydraulic pressure the rubber or plastic is forced through a small hole (the "gate") into the cavity. this allows a faster flow of material through the cavities. molding. straight plunger-type. dimensional stability. RTM) differs from compression molding in that in TM the resin is inserted into the mold (or tool) which contains the layers of fibres or a preform.

which contains the fibres. appropriate vents and creating a vacuum in the mold (which also improves quality). Other benefits include rapid manufacture. electric appliance parts. but at a higher cost. In the semiconductor industry. metal lasts longer and deforms less. A number of solutions to the problem exist including extending one level of reinforcement beyond the cavity (with a 25% resin loss). and other components . connectors. integrated circuits. ability to vary reinforcements easily or include cores such as foam and produce low and high quality products. from a homogeniser under low pressure. increased flexibility of design and lower cost are some of the advantage this process has over compression molding due mainly to the low pressure injection. package encapsulation is usually done with transfer molding due to the high accuracy of transfer molding tooling and low cycle time of the process. Larger structures.In RTM the resin is injected or drawn into a mold. Some common products are utensil handles. electronic component. New transfer mold designs integrated with suitable surface treatments like CrN. However. not labour intensive. The differences between the two types being that metal has better heat transfer. plugs. the drive to introduce "Green" manufacturing is becoming a mandatory process in most semicon assembly operations. hence quicker cycle times. and connectors. better properties (less movement of fibres). The mold can be made from composites for low production cycles or with aluminium or steel for larger production. The main problem with this production route is that air can be trapped in mold and hence a method must be incorporated for allowing this air to escape. MiCC and H Cr plating are becoming more popular in the industry. Transfer molding is widely used to enclose or encapsulate items such as coils.

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