Injection Mold With Fail Safe Pressure Mechanism
1. An injection molding apparatus comprising:
- a mold having a mold cavity;
a melt holder for pressurizing molten thermoplastic or thermoset prior to injection into the mold cavity;
a sensor in communication with the melt holder for sensing a characteristic of the molten plastic; and
a controller communicatively connected to the sensor, the controller receiving a signal from the sensor, the signal being indicative of a melt pressure of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset entering the mold cavity, the controller further being communicatively connected with an injection cylinder in the melt holder, the injection cylinder applying a force to the molten thermoplastic or thermoset to advance the molten thermoplastic or thermoset from the melt holder into the mold cavity,wherein a failsafe device is communicatively connected with the injection cylinder or the controller to limit the injection pressure below a maximum design pressure for the mold by one ofstopping the injection cylinder,slowing the injection cylinder,diverting excess pressure of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset before the molten thermoplastic or thermoset enters the mold cavity, andpreventing installation of the mold into an injection molding apparatus that is capable of providing molten thermoplastic or thermoset at pressures in excess of a maximum design pressure for the mold.
A low pressure injection mold includes a failsafe pressure mechanism that prevents the low pressure injection mold from being subjected to excessive injection pressures or excessive clamping tonnage that could damage the low pressure injection mold.
|INJECTION MOLDING SYSTEM CAPABLE OF DETECTING PRESSURE ABNORMALITY|
Patent #US 20150099026A1
Current AssigneeFanuc Corporation
Sponsoring EntityFanuc Corporation
|Injection molding pressure relief and assist|
Patent #US 9,694,419 B2
Current AssigneeFord Motor Company
Sponsoring EntityFord Motor Company
|Rubberized RFID tagged tire bladders|
Patent #US 10,457,005 B2
Current AssigneeCooper Tire Rubber Company
Sponsoring EntityCooper Tire Rubber Company
- 1. An injection molding apparatus comprising:
a mold having a mold cavity; a melt holder for pressurizing molten thermoplastic or thermoset prior to injection into the mold cavity; a sensor in communication with the melt holder for sensing a characteristic of the molten plastic; and a controller communicatively connected to the sensor, the controller receiving a signal from the sensor, the signal being indicative of a melt pressure of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset entering the mold cavity, the controller further being communicatively connected with an injection cylinder in the melt holder, the injection cylinder applying a force to the molten thermoplastic or thermoset to advance the molten thermoplastic or thermoset from the melt holder into the mold cavity, wherein a failsafe device is communicatively connected with the injection cylinder or the controller to limit the injection pressure below a maximum design pressure for the mold by one of stopping the injection cylinder, slowing the injection cylinder, diverting excess pressure of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset before the molten thermoplastic or thermoset enters the mold cavity, and preventing installation of the mold into an injection molding apparatus that is capable of providing molten thermoplastic or thermoset at pressures in excess of a maximum design pressure for the mold.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
- 14. An injection molding apparatus comprising:
a mold having a mold cavity; a melt holder for pressurizing molten plastic prior to injection into the mold cavity; a pressure limiting device in fluid communication with the melt holder for limiting a melt pressure of the molten plastic to a value less than a maximum melt pressure limit associated with the mold, wherein the mold has a Rc of less than 30 and one or more of, an L/T of greater than 100, and a guided ejection system.
- View Dependent Claims (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31)
- 32. A mold for an injection molding apparatus, the mold comprising:
a first mold part and a second mold part, the first and second mold parts defining a mold cavity therebetween; a guide pin attached to the first mold part; and a hard stop insert disposed on the second mold part.
- View Dependent Claims (33, 34, 35)
- 36. A mold for an injection molding apparatus, the mold comprising:
a guide pin attached to the first mold part; a bushing attached to the second mold part; an interlock device disposed in the bushing, the interlock device including a piston and a lock.
- View Dependent Claims (37, 38, 39, 40, 41)
- 42. A spring loaded nozzle-bushing connection for an injection molding machine, the spring loaded nozzle-busing connection comprising:
a fluid inlet; a fluid outlet; and a spring loaded valve, the spring loaded valve having an auxiliary fluid outlet, the spring loaded valve venting fluid through the auxiliary fluid outlet when fluid pressure in the spring loaded valve exceeds a predetermined limit
- View Dependent Claims (43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48)
- 49. A fail safe device for a low pressure injection mold, the fail safe device comprising:
a sprue bushing for a low pressure injection mold, the sprue bushing including a male mating surface for mating with a nozzle of an injection molding machine.
- View Dependent Claims (50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55)
The present invention relates to apparatuses for injection molding and, more particularly, to injection molds having a failsafe overpressure mechanism.
Injection molding is a technology commonly used for high-volume manufacturing of parts made of meltable material, most commonly of parts made of thermoplastic polymers. During a repetitive injection molding process, a plastic resin, most often in the form of small beads or pellets, is introduced to an injection molding machine that melts the resin beads under heat, pressure, and shear. The now molten resin is forcefully injected into a mold cavity having a particular cavity shape. The injected plastic is held under pressure in the mold cavity, cooled, and then removed as a solidified part having a shape that essentially duplicates the cavity shape of the mold. The mold itself may have a single cavity or multiple cavities. Each cavity may be connected to a flow channel by a gate, which directs the flow of the molten resin into the cavity. Thus, a typical injection molding procedure comprises four basic operations: (1) heating the plastic in the injection molding machine to allow it to flow under pressure; (2) injecting the melted plastic into a mold cavity or cavities defined between two or more mold parts that have been closed; (3) allowing the plastic to cool and harden in the cavity or cavities while under pressure; and (4) opening the mold parts to cause the part to be ejected from the mold.
The molten plastic resin is injected into the mold cavity and the plastic resin is forcibly pushed through the cavity by the injection molding machine until the plastic resin reaches the location in the cavity furthest from the gate. The resulting length and wall thickness of the part is a result of the shape of the mold cavity.
Generally speaking, as a liquid plastic resin is introduced into an injection mold in a conventional injection molding process, the material adjacent to the walls of the cavity immediately begins to “freeze,” or solidify and/or cure. As the material flows through the mold, a boundary layer of material is formed against the sides of the mold. As the mold continues to fill, the boundary layer continues to thicken, eventually closing off the path of material flow and preventing additional material from flowing into the mold. The plastic resin freezing on the walls of the mold is exacerbated when the molds are cooled, a technique used to reduce the cycle time of each part and increase machine throughput.
To overcome the problem of freeze off, the injection pressure of the liquid plastic resin as it is introduced into the mold is increased, typically to 103.421 MPa (15,000 psi), or more. By increasing the pressure, the molding machine can continue to force liquid material into the mold before the flow path has closed off. As the pressure required to mold the component increases, the molding equipment must be strong enough to withstand the additional pressure.
Many conventional injection molding operations use shear-thinning plastic material to improve flow of the plastic material into the mold cavity. As the shear-thinning plastic material is injected into the mold cavity, shear forces generated between the plastic material and the mold cavity walls tend to reduce viscosity of the plastic material, thereby allowing the plastic material to flow more freely and easily into the mold cavity. As a result, it is possible to fill thinwall parts fast enough to avoid the material freezing off before the mold is completely filled.
Reduction in viscosity is directly related to the magnitude of shear forces generated between the plastic material and the feed system, and between the plastic material and the mold cavity wall. Thus, manufacturers of these shear-thinning materials and operators of injection molding systems have been driving injection molding pressures higher in an effort to increase shear, thus reducing viscosity. As stated above, injection molding systems typically inject the plastic material in to the mold cavity at melt pressures of 103.421 MPa (15,000 psi) or more.
The molds used in injection molding machines must be capable of withstanding these high melt pressures. Moreover, the material forming the mold must have a fatigue limit that can withstand the maximum cyclic stress for the total number of cycles a mold is expected to run in its lifetime. As a result, mold manufacturers typically form the mold parts from materials having high hardness, typically greater than 30 Rc, and more typically greater than 50 Rc. These high hardness materials are durable and equipped to withstand the high clamping pressures required to keep mold components pressed against one another during the plastic injection process. These high hardness materials are also better able to resist wear from the repeated contact between molding surfaces and polymer flow.
Recently, injection molding techniques have been developed that use lower injection pressures. These lower pressure techniques allow the mold parts to be made of materials having high average thermal conductivities (e.g., greater than 51.9 W/m ° C. (30 BTU/HR FT ° F.)) to improve cooling times and thus shorten cycle times. However, these high average thermal conductivity materials are generally softer (e.g., having an average Rockwell Hardness of less than 30 Rc) than the high hardness materials used for mold parts in typical high pressure injection molding machines. These mold parts may be used in high productivity injection molding machines (i.e., injection molding machines having one or more of thin walled mold cavities (L/T>100), four or more mold cavities, and guided ejection systems). These mold parts may be made of easily machineable materials, such as materials having a milling machining index of greater than 100%, a drilling machining index of greater than 100%, and/or a wire EDM machining index of greater than 100%, as described in International Patent Application Nos. PCT/US12/38744 and PCT/US12/38846, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.
Because the low pressure mold parts may have physical dimensions that are similar to high pressure mold parts, there is a danger that the low pressure mold parts may accidentally be placed in a high pressure apparatus, or otherwise be subjected to high injection pressures or high clamp tonnages, which destroy or deform the low pressure mold by causing instant failure or fatigue failure over time, thus reducing the useful lifetime of the mold parts.
The embodiments set forth in the drawings are illustrative and exemplary in nature and not intended to limit the subject matter defined by the claims. The following detailed description of the illustrative embodiments can be understood when read in conjunction with the following drawings, where like structure is indicated with like reference numerals and in which:
Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to systems, machines, products, and methods of producing products by injection molding and more specifically to systems, products, and methods of preventing a low pressure injection mold from being exposed to excessive injection pressure or excessive clamp tonnage that could damage the low pressure injection mold or mold parts, or diminish the serviceable lifetime of a the low pressure injection mold or mold parts.
The term “low pressure” as used herein with respect to melt pressure of a thermoplastic or thermoset material, means melt pressures in a vicinity of a nozzle of an injection molding machine of approximately 41.38 MPa (6000 psi) and lower.
The term “fail safe device” as used herein means any device that directly or indirectly prevents overpressurization of a mold cavity. The fail safe device may be an electrical device, a mechanical device, a pneumatic device, or any combination thereof. The fail safe device may provide electronic signals, mechanical signals, fluid signals, pneumatic signals, or any combination thereof to stop an injection molding process when an overpressurization condition is detected. One or more components of the fail safe device may be located in the barrel, the nozzle, the gate, or the mold, or otherwise be attached to any of the barrel, the nozzle, the gate, and the mold. Generally speaking the fail safe device may only be overridden by an intentional action from an operator.
While the molds described herein may be made of softer materials (e.g., Rc less than 30) that have relatively high thermal conductivities (such as aluminum), when a mold (or a first and a second mold part) is defined as having a Rc of less than 30, the mold (or mold part) is has an average Rc of less than 30. In some cases, a harder material (such as steel) gate may be used to reduce gate erosion while not increasing the average thermal conductivity of the mold (or mold part) above 30 Rc.
Referring to the figures in detail,
The reciprocating screw 22 forces the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24, toward a nozzle 26 to form a shot of thermoplastic or thermoset material, which will be injected into a mold cavity 32 of a mold 28. The molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 may be injected through a gate 30, which directs the flow of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 to the mold cavity 32. The mold cavity 32 is formed between first and second mold parts 25, 27 of the mold 28 and the first and second mold parts 25, 27 are held together under pressure by a press or clamping unit 34. The press or clamping unit 34 applies a clamping force during the molding process to hold the first and second mold parts 25, 27 together while the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 is injected into the mold cavity 32. To support these clamping forces, the clamping system 34 may include a mold frame 35 and one or more support plates 37 that transfer clamping forces from the clamping unit 34 to the first and second mold parts 25, 27 during the injection molding process.
Once the shot of molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 is injected into the mold cavity 32, the reciprocating screw 22 stops traveling forward. The molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 takes the form of the mold cavity 32 and the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 cools inside the mold 28 until the thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 solidifies. Once the thermoplastic or thermoset material 24 has solidified, the press 34 releases the first and second mold parts 25, 27, the first and second mold parts 25, 27 are separated from one another, and the finished part may be ejected from the mold 28. The mold 28 may include a plurality of mold cavities 32 to increase overall production rates.
The injection molding apparatus 10 may include fail safe device in the form of a pressure limiting device to limit injection pressure. In one embodiment, the pressure limiting device may include a controller 50 that is communicatively connected with a sensor 52, the injection cylinder or heated barrel 20, and/or a screw control 36. The controller 50 may include a microprocessor, a memory, and one or more communication links The controller 50 may be connected to the sensor 52 and the screw control 36 via wired connections 54, 56, respectively. In other embodiments, the controller 50 may be connected to the sensor 52 and screw control 56 via a wireless connection, a mechanical connection, a hydraulic connection, a pneumatic connection, or any other type of communication connection known to those having ordinary skill in the art that will allow the controller 50 to communicate with both the sensor 52 and the screw control 36.
In the embodiment of
In one embodiment, the sensor 52 may be attached to the mold 28 or to one of the first and second mold parts 25, 27. The sensor 52 may also be programmed with a maximum pressure reading based on a maximum pressure rating of the mold 28 or a maximum pressure rating of one of the first and second mold parts 25, 27. For example, the sensor may be programmed with a 68.95 MPa (10,000 psi) maximum pressure. This maximum pressure may be communicated to the controller 50 when the mold 28 is installed in the injection molding machine 10. If the sensor 52 is subjected to a pressure in excess of the maximum pressure, the controller 50 may shut down the injection molding machine 10 to prevent damage to the mold 28. Thus, the mold 28 includes a failsafe capability due to the sensor 52 being attached to the mold 28 and the sensor 52 being programmed with a maximum pressure.
In another embodiment, when the maximum pressure is exceeded, the controller 50 may set off or activate an alarm or warning, which would alert an operator to the overpressure condition. The operator could decide whether the injection molding machine 10 should be shut down or not. The alarm or warning could be visual (e.g., a flashing light), aural/audible (e.g., a horn), tactile (e.g., a vibrating control pad), or any combination thereof. In other embodiments, the alarm or warning may include an electronic communication, such as an email or text message, sent to smart phones or other handheld electronic devices. An alarm may be useful in tracking the number of times a maximum pressure is exceeded to determine when the useful life of a mold has expired. This feature advantageously allows a user to determine when a softer metallurgy mold part has reached the end of its useful life. Softer metals are more susceptible to premature failure when repeatedly exposed to pressures in excess of a maximum design pressure. For example, an aluminum mold may have a 5,000,000 cycle life expectancy at a 34.47 MPa (5,000 psi) maximum injection pressure and a 2,000,000 cycle life expectancy at a 68.95 MPa (10,000 psi) maximum injection pressure.
In an alternative embodiment, a visual sensor (not shown) may be communicatively connected to the controller 50. The visual sensor detects the presence of plastic within the mold after the molding cycle has completed. The visual sensor may prevent damage to the mold parts by allowing the controller 50 to stop the molding process when plastic is left between the mold parts from a previous molding cycle.
In yet other embodiments, the controller 50 may be programmable to properly adjust a maximum pressure. When the mold 28 is installed in the injection molding machine 10, an operator may set the controller with a maximum pressure setting based on a maximum rated pressure for the mold 28. In some embodiments, the maximum pressure setting may be stored in an electronic media and/or an optical media (such as a microchip, an RFID chip, a bar code, or a QR code) that is electronically and/or optically read by the controller when the mold is installed in the press. The electronic or optical media may be permanently fixed or attached to the mold to prevent incorrect maximum pressure settings from being associated with the mold. The maximum pressure may be based at least in part on the material forming the mold and the dimensional characteristics of the mold 28. Virtual modeling tools may be used during a design phase of producing the mold 28 to determine the maximum rated pressure of the mold 28. Once the controller 50 is programmed with the maximum pressure setting, the controller 50 may activate an alarm or warning, or shut down the injection molding process, when the maximum pressure is sensed by the sensor 52.
In still other embodiments, the pressure limiting device may be a mechanical mechanism that limits injection pressure supplied to the mold 28. In one embodiment, as illustrated in
If the injection pressure exceeds a predetermined pressure limit, the rupture disk fractures and vents all melt pressure upstream of the pressure relief mechanism out of the injection molding machine 110. This pressure venting prevents excessive melt pressure from reaching the mold cavity, where damage could occur. Preferably, upon fracturing of the rupture disk an electronic signal is transmitted to the controller 150, which would stop the injection molding process until corrective action could be taken. In other embodiments, a pressure relief valve or a pressure regulating valve could be used instead of a rupture disk. The pressure relief valve or pressure regulating valve limits pressure of the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material within the barrel to a maximum value while still allowing the molten thermoplastic or thermoset material to flow into the mold cavity. In some embodiments, a pressure activated by-pass or flow recirculation valve could also be used that reroutes relieved molten thermoplastic or thermoset material back into the barrel to prevent waste of the thermoplastic or thermoset material.
In still other embodiments, the mechanical pressure relief mechanism 170 could take the form of a pressure blocking device 270, as illustrated in
In other embodiments, the activation arm 276 and the blocking arm 274 may rotate freely about the pivot 278, while being biased by the spring 280, without being locked in any particular position. As a result, the blocking arm 274, when moving towards the blocking position, may reduce fluid pressure downstream of the pressure blocking device 270. This reduction in pressure, in turn, would cause the actuating arm 276, and thus the blocking arm 274, to move back towards the flow position. This back and forth fluctuation may continue until an equilibrium position is attained where the blocking arm prevents enough fluid flow through the fluid flow path to keep the fluid pressure in the fluid flow path below the preset limit In this embodiment, the pressure blocking device 270 functions as a pressure regulating valve.
Turning now to
Yet another embodiment of a pressure blocking device 470 is illustrated in
In another embodiment, as illustrated in
Another method of preventing overpressurization of a mold 628 is to have a lock and key fail safe device disposed between one mold side 625 and the support plate 637. Turning now to
Another embodiment of a lock and key fail safe device may be disposed between a nozzle and a sprue bushing interface, as illustrated in
Yet another method of preventing overpressurization of a low pressure mold is to limit the clamp tonnage that is applied to the first and second mold parts. Limiting the clamp tonnage may be done mechanically, as illustrated in
Turning now to
The mechanical clamp limiter 703 includes a guide pin 704 that is attached to the first mold side 725. In some embodiments, the guide pin 704 that may have a precision ground end face at a distal end. A bushing 705 and hard stop insert 706 may be attached to the second mold side 727. A thickness of the hard stop insert 706 plus a length of the guide pin 704 determine a minimum distance between the first mold side 725 and the second mold side 727, which can be set to the calculated final clamped distance. In other words, the guide pin 704 and the hard stop insert 706 may have a total thickness equal to a height of an A and B insert together. When the guide pin 704 contacts the hard stop insert 706, further movement of the first mold side 725 towards the second mold side 727 is prevented. As a result, any additional clamping forces (which would normally result in an overclamping force) are carried by the guide pin and the hard stop insert. Thus, the first and second mold sides 725, 727 are prevented from being subject to overclamping forces and possibly damage. In one embodiment, the guide pin 704 and the hard stop insert 706 are capable of withstanding up to about 10 times the maximum rated pressure of the low pressure mold, preferably more than 275.79 MPa (40,000 psi), more preferably between 344.74 MPa (50,000 psi) and 482.63 MPa (70,000 psi), and more preferably about 413.69 MPa (60,000 psi).
In yet other embodiments, other types of clamp tonnage limiters may be employed including, but not limited to: auxiliary hydraulics on the press to actuate side locks, or to provide a counter force to offset primary clamp tonnage if excessive tonnage is detected; a hydraulic driven device that is built in to the mold to provide this offsetting counter pressure; or the support plate first or second mold side being supported by a hydraulic reservoir, which if pressurized beyond a control limit, vents hydraulic fluid to relieve hydraulic pressure such that the pressure on the first and second mold sides is relieved, causing the support primary clamp tonnage to be absorbed by a support structure separate from critical mold components.
In yet other embodiments, electronic locks may be used that react to a sensor measurement of clamp tonnage. The electronic lock may use the sensor measurement to stop the press if clamp tonnage is exceeded. The sensor could detect pressure directly along a parting axis of the first and second mold sides, or indirectly by monitoring strain in the tie bars supporting the clamp tonnage, for example. A similar sensor measurement may be used to actuate an active mechanical lock either using press hydraulics or a servo driven mechanism.
When using a sensor measurement of clamp tonnage, a record of clamp tonnage exposures may be maintained for the purpose of determining if the mold has been exposed to excessive clamp pressure. This information may be useful in diagnosing the cause of damage to a mold, and also may be used to determine if warrantee conditions have been violated during the operation of the mold. Alternatively, pressure sensitive films or papers may be used to detect clamping pressures.
Turning now to
Normally, fluid flows from the nozzle into the inlet 1072, around the valve plug 1080, and to the outlet 1074 to the mold. When fluid pressure from the inlet 1072 is sufficient to overcome the spring force from the spring 1084, the valve plug 1078 moves into contact with the valve seat 1082, thus preventing further fluid flow to the mold. Once positioned, the valve plug 1078 may be locked in position by a locking mechanism (not shown). When the valve plug 1078 contacts the valve seat 1082, fluid is vented through an auxiliary port 1092. In some embodiments a heater band (not shown) may be disposed around the spring loaded valve 1076 to improve fluid flow through the spring loaded valve 1076.
Normally, fluid flows from the nozzle into the inlet 1172, which is part of a machine barrel to nozzle interface adaptor, through the valve pin 1178, and to the outlet 1174 to the mold (see
The disclosed molds advantageously prevent damage to a low pressure injection mold from exposure to excessive pressures or excessive clamping tonnage, such as when the low pressure mold is accidentally disposed in a high pressure injection molding machine. By preventing damage, costs can be greatly reduced as producing a single low pressure mold for a high capacity injection molding machine may cost in excess of $10,000 to $100,000 or more for each mold.
It is noted that the terms “substantially,” “about,” and “approximately,” unless otherwise specified, may be utilized herein to represent the inherent degree of uncertainty that may be attributed to any quantitative comparison, value, measurement, or other representation. These terms are also utilized herein to represent the degree by which a quantitative representation may vary from a stated reference without resulting in a change in the basic function of the subject matter at issue. Unless otherwise defined herein, the terms “substantially,” “about,” and “approximately” mean the quantitative comparison, value, measurement, or other representation may fall within 20% of the stated reference.
The dimensions and values disclosed herein are not to be understood as being strictly limited to the exact numerical values recited. Instead, unless otherwise specified, each such dimension is intended to mean both the recited value and a functionally equivalent range surrounding that value. For example, a dimension disclosed as “40 mm” is intended to mean “about 40 mm ”
Every document cited herein, including any cross referenced or related patent or application, is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety unless expressly excluded or otherwise limited. The citation of any document is not an admission that it is prior art with respect to any invention disclosed or claimed herein or that it alone, or in any combination with any other reference or references, teaches, suggests or discloses any such invention. Further, to the extent that any meaning or definition of a term in this document conflicts with any meaning or definition of the same term in a document incorporated by reference, the meaning or definition assigned to that term in this document shall govern.
While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.