Structural Foam Molding
This is a molding process that allows manufacturers to produce very large structural parts. Though it bears some similarities to injection molding, this method can be accomplished with much less pressure than that which is required for more conventional processes. Therefore, parts are likely to have thicker wall sections. The end product tends to be lightweight and rigid with a relatively hard surface.
High Pressures Not Needed
The structural foam molding process requires an inert gas (such as nitrogen) to be mixed with the chosen plastic material inside an extruder barrel. This mixture is then injected into a mold using less pressure than what is common in injection molding.
Once injected, the gas expands, filling the mold cavity. Alternatively, a chemical reaction within the blend itself may lead to the desired foaming action. When the foaming plastic touches the cold mold wall it solidifies, producing a thin layer of skin. This skin is supported by a cellular structure that is not dissimilar to wood products. Unlike injection molding, high pressures are not needed. The foaming action caused by the gas is sufficient to create the part.
One of the advantages of structural foam molding is that it does not require a steel mold. Instead, lighter and less expensive materials such as aluminum are acceptable. It is also associated with lower startup costs than what is required to pursue injection molding, making it a worthwhile alternative for lower volume applications. The products this method produces tend to have excellent strength-to-weight ratios and better acoustic and thermal insulation properties than similar products made with other methods.
Lower Production Speeds
The structural foam molding process has lower production speeds in comparison to other methods. Regardless, it is a common process that can be relied upon to produce safe, sturdy parts.
Plastic Pallet Created Using Structural Foam Molding
A great example of a pallet that is made using structural foam molding is TranPak’s Corona pallet. Call us today to learn more about the Corona and other pallets that are made using this method.
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