Injection molding offers many different design options to customize your final product. One such option is insert molding, which combines the strengths of metal and plastic to create a robust, durable component that improves the functionality and strength of your finished product. Insert molding can be used with thermoplastics, thermosets or elastomers, and it works well for a variety of applications.
The main difference between insert molding and other injection molding processes is that the inserted product, which is typically made of metal, is placed into the mold before the molten plastic resin is injected. This ensures that the molded plastic completely encases the inserted product, resulting in a part with no cracks or uneven wall thickness. The inserted product can be something simple like a blade or a tube, or it can be more complex such as a metal insert for a machine.
A custom-built mold is used to hold the inserted product before the liquid plastic is injected and cooled, forming a single part with both the insert and molded plastic. The insertion process is done in a one-shot operation, which reduces the overall production time and allows for a more efficient manufacturing process. This is important because insert molding is often used for parts that are exposed to harsh environments, such as automotive or medical devices. It’s vital that these components are able to withstand the stress of constant exposure to heat, cold and vibration.
The insertion process can be performed manually or by using a robotic arm. Once the inserted product is positioned in the correct location, the mold is closed and the molded plastic is injected. After the part cools, it is ejected from the mold and the insert is removed manually or by using a robot.
Unlike overmolding, insert molding is a single-shot process. This eliminates the need for post-molding assembly or separate component installation, saving time and eliminating the risk of error during the process. This is also beneficial for parts that require mechanical fasteners and connectors, as it avoids the need for secondary hardware installation processes like bonding or ultrasonic welding.
The benefits of insert molding are numerous. It increases design flexibility by allowing for the use of different materials, reducing assembly and labor costs by minimizing the need for fasteners and connectors, and ensuring a strong, reliable connection. In addition, insert molded parts can be lighter in weight and smaller in size than components that incorporate mechanical hardware. This helps manufacturers to cut production costs, while reducing the amount of assembly, handling and shipping required by the component. Finally, insert molded products are more reliable and stronger than their counterparts that utilize metal fasteners because the bonded material is able to withstand more force. To learn more about how you can take advantage of the advantages of insert molding, speak with a Xometry representative today. Our team can leverage decades of manufacturing expertise to guide you in the right direction.