Plastic Injection Molding
Plastic manufacturing is a wonderful application for infrared cameras, both in monitoring the manufacturing process as well as traditional predictive maintenance. The nature of the manufacturing process is thermal. Obtaining a thermal image of a newly formed plastic part as it exits the mold can be used to diagnose quality problems and reduce scrap while increasing productivity and profitability. The plastics industry, hit hard by international competition, has an extreme focus on finding any conceivable way to increase profitability. Infrared cameras assist the manufacturing process to attain a higher level of productivity.
• Cores and cavities – Monitoring the thermal profile of cores and cavities can predict problems with the process. An infrared image of a core can be used to determine if it is running too hot. A large temperature difference between cores in excess of 20deg F usually means the system is unstable.*
• Cooling lines – The wrong heat transfer in the wrong place at the wrong time can result in short shots, galling, splay, stuck parts, shear, material degradation and brittleness. Changing molds at times results in improper connection of cooling lines. Comparing thermal images of plastic parts as they exit the mold may be used to determine if the cooling lines are connected correctly and transferring the correct amount of heat.
• Heater bands – The feed throat must not exceed a specific temperature or clogging will occur. The temperature of the heater bands near the feed throat can be easily monitored with an infrared camera.
• Dryers – Drying systems, used to remove moisture from hoppers, must be monitored for correct temperatures. An infrared thermal analysis is a very quick method to ensure the drying process is functioning correctly.
• Electrical – Thermal scans of electric motors and connections can prevent premature failure and costly down time.