Injection Molding with the PCNC?February 24, 2011 by: Greg Jackson
Sneak Peak – Plastic Injection Molding Accessory
Here’s a preview of something I’ll bet nobody was expecting
It’s an accessory for your PCNC mill which will make it into a plastic injection molding machine. It simply clamps on to the spindle nose. You use your machine vise to hold the mold. There is a pressure feedback sensor that plugs into the accessory port on the operator console of the mill. Cut the mold with the mill, attach the molding accessory, then mold a part. Sweet.
No release date or price established yet. Right now the product is in the process of moving from working prototype to production product. It seemed like a cool idea at the time of inspiration, but once got into it we were pretty surprised at how well it actually worked. As developments go, this one has seen relatively few roadblocks so far. We expect to release this sometime in 2011.
Story Behind the Invention
There have been desktop injection molders available for years. They generally have just a few primary components:
- Heating chamber for plastic
- Ram, acting as piston in the heating chamber
- Vise to hold a mold
- Vertical motion system, able to deliver high force
- Rigid framework for all
When we looked the standard desktop molder, we realized that a PCNC mill already has items 3, 4, and 5. All it needed was 1 and 2. Standard desktop injection molders take a bit of skill to get the right combination of temperature, pressure and mold fill time for a good injection. We developed a system using a sensor, the accessory input port, and the mill control, to automate all that in a repeatable fashion, once the right recipe is found.
The system works well and produces good moldings using many different types of plastics. This is not going to put anyone into the production business, but it’s great for making a few parts, making a specialty product, or testing out a concept.
Out of the Left Field?
OK Tormach watchers, I know this product seems to come out of the blue. But if you squint your eyes just a bit, or have a couple beers, you might see that is a method to our madness. The Tormach touch probe, Duality Lathe, Tormach Speeder, CNC Scanner, and others of our unique accessories, they all have a common theme. What they do is take advantage of the PCNC mill, using it as a foundation to extend the capability of the machine and provide greater range of functions to your shop. For many PCNC owners, the mill is the most expensive tool in their shop. What we’re trying to do is to allow people to leverage their investment, making it possible to do more for less.
Do you have an idea for a useful mill accessory? Let us know, maybe we can help. Whether we’re doing the development ourselves, or assisting as we have done with the Tormach Approved program, we like to see these crazy ideas come to come to life.