Scientific molding slowly making progress in plastics processing

11/07/2014

John Beaumont, President of Beaumont Technologies Inc. (Erie, PA), was recently elected to the Plastics Pioneers Association. His contributions to plastics processing are many, and he's dedicated to the science of molding. PlasticsToday's Clare Goldsberry sat down with Beaumont recently to discuss why the industry has been so slow to adopt scientific principles when polymer developments and machine technologies have advanced so far over the past two decades.

"To understand our industry—to understand where we are in our industry—we have to reflect on our history," said Beaumont. "The industry grew in an age when there wasn't much science connected to injection molding. This is despite the fact that injection molding is one of the most complex part formation processes on the planet. We start by injecting a hot, molten, non-Newtonian fluid, often consisting of blends and including numerous additives, into a cold mold where it is simultaneously flowing and freezing. The complex interaction of the polymer, mold design, part design, and process all combine to control the mechanical properties, shrinkage, residual stresses, and warpage of the final molded part.

"The final part properties are virtually impossible to predict and are not known until we have built a mold and molded the part. The science applied to plastic materials grew up separately from the industry, which has resulted in the injection molding process and tooling practices evolving as an art form. Molders are typically more like creative firefighters, not scientists."
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