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Hot Runner Manifold, nozzle and gate

design considerations for successful


molding of semi-crystalline polymers
by X. Brouwers, P. Miniou - European Technical Center ( Geneva - Switzerland )
Abstract
These days the demand for maximizing productivity is higher than ever before. One way to reduce cycle time
and avoid regrind operations is to use a hot runner system. The question that frequently arises is when to
use hot runner molds with crystalline polymers. The answer depends on many factors, and particularly on
the part quality needs, eg mechanical performance, surface aspect. By looking at the behavior and the needs
of semi-crystalline polymers, such as POM, PA, PPA, PET, PBT and LCP we will highlight some key factors to
look at when choosing a well adapted hot runner system.
This is not an intention to recommend any trademark or system, the intent is to aid customers and mold
makers with selecting the most appropriate hot runner system to maximize product quality and yield.

Status
Hot runner molds provide advantages vs. cold runner systems, among which the obvious ones are: less material
to plastify leading to shorter cycles and no (or minimum) regrind. On the other hand, hot runner molds add complexity and
costs. They often require maintenance and skilled molding operators.

Hot Runner Direct gating versus cold sub-runners


When designing a hot runner mold for semi-crystalline polymers, it should Tg Tm C
be kept in mind that direct gating via hot runner is more demanding with
these types of polymers vs. amorphous ones. The difference is explained
by the softening and melting behavior of these two types of polymers.
An amorphous material exhibits a gradual softening behavior aboveTg from T
Modulus

the solid state to the liquid state. (temperature and viscosity.)

This behavior provides wide temperature domains for thermoforming (“T”), BM


for blow molding (“BM”) and finally for injection molding (“IM”) as shown Crist.
in figure 1. Amor.
IM
Opposite to amorphous grades, the Tg of semi-crystalline polymers have Temperature
usually a limited or negligible effect on the structure, which remains solid Fig. 1 – Modulus vs Temperature
above Tg.

At the melt temperature Tm, semi-crystalline polymers melt sharply and


become liquid (curve “C”).

This behavior of semi-crystalline materials requires special attention to:

• Drooling around the gate, which potentially can be responsible for bad
surface aspect and deformation.

• Plugging of the gates by solidified material, plugs which will be pushed


into the cavities, with consequent problems of surface defects and lower
mechanical performances.

The critical objective is to allow the part to freeze at the gate outlet and
remain molten at the gate inlet over a distance which represents a fraction
of a millimetre. This requirement is exceedingly difficult to accomplish with Cold slug trap
direct gated parts using hot tip hot runner systems.

The use of a hot runner combined with cold sub-runners will achieve this
goal, also contributing to a more robust process (Figure 2). The cold slug Fig. 2 – Typical layout of a combination
trap in front of the hot nozzle will catch any frozen or degraded material. of Hot Nozzle with cold sub runners
Key criteria for selecting a Hot Runner System
The following is a summary of typical weaknesses observed in Hot Runner System which require improvement :
• Dead spots (1)
• In hot manifold flow channel
• At tip of heated nozzle
• High heat loss
• Inappropriate temperature controls (including thermocouple location)
• Gate & channel dimension not allowing insufficient Flow & Hold Pressure Time
• Ease of maintenance (purging, heating system.)
• Poorly trained operators

(1) Areas with infinite hold-up time

Dead Zone or Hold-up Spots Dead Zone or Hold-up Spots Dead Zone or Hold-up Spots in
in manifolds of internally heated torpedo valve gate (direct gating)
Channel Corners in the Hot Manifold
system (direct gating) Valve gate design requires special
could be a concern as they may result The dead zone on the far side of the attention relative to the inherent dead zone
in a pressure drop in the channel but torpedo may cause polymer stagnation present on the far side of the pin where
more dramatically in the « dead zone » and degradation. (Fig. 4a). polymer can stagnate (Fig. 4b).
if not properly designed. Hot Runner
manufacturers offer a wide range of flow
optimized geometries in corners to avoid
Hold-up spots.

Not recommended ? ?
?

Acceptable

Optimum

Fig. 3 – Typical Channel geometries Fig. 4a – Torpedo design Fig. 4b – Valve gate design

Gate freeze-off in valve gate system with fast freezing polymers. (direct gating)
In order to achieve good dimensional fact, cannot push this solidified mass of valve pin to push this material into the
control and/or obtain good surface material into the (semi)-solidifed part.The part upon closing. When forced to do this,
appearance, the ‘optimum’ SFT required end result is a ‘puck’ of frozen material problems become apparent with the part
to obtain (or get close to) freeze-off across that stands proud of the surface of the (dimensional issues, poor surface, etc.).
the wall section of the part will very often part, sometimes by as much as several
also result in freeze-off of the material in millimeters). It’s a no-win situation unless the molder
the gate itself (in front of the retracted is made aware of this potential issue and
valve pin). Many valve-gate systems The only solution is to significantly reduce agrees that a gate projection is acceptable.
cannot deliver sufficient pressure to force SFT so that the part wall, and material
the closing of the valve pin against this in front of the retracted valve pin is still
(semi-) frozen mass of material, and in semi-molten, which then allows for the

Copyright © 2010 E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. All rights reserved. ® DuPont registered trademark. ™ DuPont trademark
« Dead Zone » or «Hold-up spots» in nozzles (direct gating)
Same challenges also apply to the nozzle tips where a fully streamlined design is mandatory to avoid degradation possibly leading to surface
aspect problems and brittleness. Optimized streamlining reduces the necessary time when changing material color. (Fig. 7)

Gate tip design, where molten plastic is insulating the tip, should be avoided (see below Fig. 6).

To limit restriction and consequent pressure drops, externally heated hot nozzles are preferred versus Internally heated (Fig. 5) and heat
conductive nozzles (not shown).

Not recommended Not recommended Recommended

Fig. 5 – Internally heated Fig. 6 – Self insulated Fig. 7 – Hot Gate design with mini torpedo
Torpedo with cartridge. Nozzle tip. (when direct gating).

Side-gating systems on the vertical Combination of Hot runner with cold runner
part wall (direct gating – special case) Gate freeze-off in Hot Runner Systems is less predictable than with a cold runner
By design the part shears away from the hot approach. It is one reason why it is recommended to use them in combination
edge-gate during ejection, potentially leaving a with cold sub- runners :
semi-frozen slug in the gate orifice. This slug either
Open nozzle Mini torpedo in open nozzle
gets injected with the next shot (creating a surface
Prefered for glass reinforced Mini torpedo in open nozzle
defect) or freezes-off completely, resulting in a materials
plugged gate and subsequent risks of short shots
and potential flash in other (open) cavities.

Several suppliers have raised the awareness of


molders that these designs are NOT suitable for
semi-crystalline resins.

Fig. 8 – Combination of Hot runners with cold sub-runners

Dimensions of cold sub-runners


Cold runners and gate designs should follow the guidelines
for semi-crystalline dimensional recommendations. Gate
dimension, «D», must be at least half of the part thickness («  T »).

The inscribed diameter «D» of the tunnel next to the gate must
be at least 1,2 × the part thickness. The gate shown on the right
side in Fig. 9 is not recommended for crystalline materials.

This is because such conical gate sections crystallise before


30° the «pack-out» of the part has been completed. This results
in low mechanical performance and uncontrolled shrinkage.
d
For parts made of DuPont™ Delrin® acetal resin, the runners
D
next to the gate must have at least an inscribed diameter equal
to the part thickness «T» + 1 mm in order to have the best
Fig. 9 – Dimension of cold sub-runners
physical properties.

Copyright © 2010 E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. All rights reserved. ® DuPont registered trademark. ™ DuPont trademark
System temperature control
Inappropriate layout of the heating system
can lead to over heating (i.e if hot sprue is
not properly insulated or the position of the
thermocouple is not correct). Further more,
contact between the hot runner system and
the mold should be minimized in order to limit
heat losses that are the main cause for poor
temperature distribution (Fig. 10).

Thermocouple should be located near the tip


of the nozzle (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11 – Ideal Thermocouple position

Thermocouple

Minimized σT° σT°


Surface contact Fig. 10 – Thermal Isulation of Hot Runner

Temperature control
of the cavity
Another challenge with a direct hot
runner nozzle is the consequent
non-uniformity of the cavity wall
temperature created by the very close
location of the nozzle.

An indirect gating system using a


combination of a hot nozzle with cold
runners is a good solution when cavity
temperature uniformity is mandatory
for dimensional consistency. Fig. 12 – Uniformity of wall Fig. 13 – Non-uniformity of wall
cavity temperature cavity temperature

Semi-crystalline require well selected hot runner technology to take advantage of productivity benefits

The information provided herein corresponds to our knowledge on the subject at the date of its publication. for any testing you may need to conduct to determine for yourself the suitability of a specific material
This information may be subject to revision as new knowledge and experience becomes available. The for your particular purposes. Since DuPont cannot anticipate all variations in actual end-use conditions
data provided fall within the normal range of product properties and relate only to the specific material DuPont makes no warranties and assumes no liability in connection with any use of this information.
designated; these data may not be valid for such material used in combination with any other materials or Nothing in this publication is to be considered as a license to operate under or a recommendation to
additives or in any process, unless expressly indicated otherwise. The data provided should not be used infringe any patent rights. L-14496
to establish specification limits or used alone as the basis of design; they are not intended to substitute

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For more details on every aspect on moulding with Delrin®, Zytel®, Rynite®, Crastin® please refer to the Moulding Manuals.

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