Injection moulded plastic parts seem like they have been around us for a very long time; every bottle of we drink out of and every car we drive is a testament to the durability and flexibility of injection moulding and its low cost of production. In common with a lot of modern day items we take for granted, the need to injection moulded parts was first undertaken during World War II, from around 1940-1945. Prior to this, parts were mostly made of metal which became scarce during the war and another material not required for the war effort was in demand – plastic. The material was used to form many parts that had only previously been manufactured using metal and it quickly became apparent that plastic was actually a superior product, being stronger and lighter than most metals of the time, as well as flexible and user friendly to the manufacturer and consumer.
The first injection moulding machine was created by the Hyatt Brothers in 1872 and is more likely to resemble one of the first 3D printers, as opposed to a modern injection moulding machine, although the principle is, of course, similar! Since the early days of injection moulding, undoubtedly the most important aspect of production is the plastic materials which are used to make the parts. Plastics technology has come on in leaps and bounds since 1872 and there are now over 20,000 different material formulations to choose from when deciding what to make your part out of. Each of these has specific properties that are suitable for a wide range of applications, from medical use to automotive and aerospace technologies. Engineers are always looking for the fine balance between cost, durability and weight and it is a testament to their skills that we are able to manufacture many items at a very low cost, but to a high quality standard.
In conclusion, it appears that injection moulding has been the saviour of the world and, to be honest, this is not far from the truth! Especially when dealing with large volume applications, there are no other comparable manufacturing techniques that come close to injection moulding and this is why it continues to be as important now as it was in the 1940s. Long live injection moulding!