In the current climate, it is likely to see much greater use of thermoplastic moulding. Here are some reasons why.
Slowly but surely, manufacturing is heading towards the “as a Service” business model. This means a whole lot less emphasis on large-scale production runs. Instead, there will be smaller runs of products which have a high level of customization for their niche.
This will require manufacturers to reevaluate their production process. In particular, it is likely to see much greater use of thermoplastic moulding. Here are some reasons why.
Thermoplastic moulding has minimal on-site staffing requirements
This might not have been a huge selling point before COVID19. At present, however, it may be thermoplastic moulding’s biggest selling point.
The physical aspects of the thermoplastic moulding process are largely controlled by machines. One human operator can manage several machines; hence the need for on-site staffing is minimized. The fewer people there are on-site, the easier it is to maintain social-distancing. This means that thermoplastic moulding operations are more likely to be able to keep running without incident.
Over the long term, these minimal on-site staffing requirements make it easier to open smaller manufacturing plants. This in turn makes it easier to operate to a distributed business model instead of the current, highly-centralized one.
In addition to eliminating the risks of a single-point-of-failure, this also makes it possible to create goods closer to where they are needed. This brings added benefits including environmental ones in the form of reduced transport.
Thermoplastic moulding offers superb efficiency
In the thermoplastic moulding process, the “heavy-lifting” is all done at the back end. Basically, it’s all about designing a mould which meets the customer’s exact specifications. Once this is done (and the presses formed), the actual thermoplastic moulding process itself is quick, simple and highly efficient.
One of the reasons it’s so highly efficient is because thermoplastic moulding supports the use of multiple types of plastics simultaneously. This includes heat-sensitive polymers which require relatively delicate handling. As a bonus, it’s also easy to change colours without interrupting the process.
Last, but definitely not least, the thermoplastic moulding process generates minimum waste. What’s more, the majority of the scrap plastic it does produce can be reground and put back into production. This makes the process both very environmentally-friendly and very cost-effective.
Thermoplastic moulding offers great strength and great detail
Thermoplastic moulding makes it possible to add fillers to the plastic to increase its density and hence its strength. It also uses a higher degree of pressure than any other similar process. This high pressure translates to a high degree of force which ensures that the plastic is pushed into the finest crevices in the mould.
As a result, thermoplastic moulding can be used to create parts which are both extremely durable and extremely detailed. What’s more, it can do so with efficiency that makes it feasible to produce even small batches of highly complex parts at a low price point. This is essential if small-scale/disruptive businesses are to get products to market at the sort of price customers can not only afford but are happy to pay.
All of these qualities mean that thermoplastic is ideal for modern “just-in-time” manufacturing, especially in a distributed environment.
Ansini Limited are specialists in vacuum forming and thermoplastic moulding. Their social responsibility to the environment ensures their procedures and products cut waste and reduce the use of energy.