Plastic injection moulds last from hundreds to over a million cycles and their longevity and durability depend on several factors.
The factors that depend on the lifespan of the plastic injection mould are namely the environment, maintenance, structure, SPI classification, and other factors.
Factors affecting plastic mould durability are the environment, materials, maintenance, moulding conditions, and structure design. Injection moulds can be maintained to extend their lifespan by performing regular inspection, maintenance, coating the mould, and above all ensuring that the injection mould operates under appropriate conditions.
The use of the Society of the Plastics Industry, SPI classification will help with the above-mentioned factors. We must ensure to avoid part defects namely the sink marks, flow lines, burn marks, surface delamination, and flashing, as these will cause damage or indicate any damage to the mould.
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Injection mould tool life is the term that refers to the total number of moulding cycles the mould can be subjected to before it fails. In the case of injection mould tool life, failure refers to any kind of deformation that would lead to affecting the quality of the parts that are produced. The speed at which this wear occurs also depends on certain factors.
The primary factors affecting injection mould longevity are mentioned below.
Environment: Environmental cleanliness plays an important role in allowing moulds to last longer. The operation of the plastic mould under certain conditions has a heavy impact, not just on the health of the mould by itself, but also affects the health of the parts produced.
The reasons leading to the shorter life expectancy of injection mould are harsh and dirty environments. On the other hand, when the injection moulds are being used in a very tidy and clean environment such as being placed in a clean room, are sure to last for decades.
Materials: The material of the injection moulded products has a significant impact on the life span of injection moulded products. This also depends on the material of the tooling itself. When the injection moulds are made of a soft metal such as aluminum, they are more than likely, do not usually last when compared to being made of harder metal moulds such as stainless steel. In the case of the silicone blend being moulded, the formulations contain abrasive or corrosive ingredients and can lead to wear down the tooling thus decreasing the life span. Hence, it is imperative to use stronger materials such as steel to make a plastic mould more durable, as the plastic materials used in the mould can also wear it down.
Conditions: The manufacturing of the injection moulding takes place under different operating conditions and some environmental factors could be tougher on the equipment when compared to others. In addition to this, the cleanliness and the probability of external contaminants that include dust, moisture, and debris too could have an impact on the life cycle of tooling.
Length of Cycles: By the rule of thumb, it is stated that injection moulds last longer when they operate under longer cycle times in comparison to high-speed production cycles.
Proper Maintenance: This is one of the key elements of prime importance that although impacts the tooling life span, is yet often overlooked. The vital factors to maximize the life of injection moulds are preventative maintenance and the associated inspections.
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