My favorite toy as a kid was the Kenner Mold Master. You put in plastic pellets into the tower to melt them, insert a mold in the base, and press a plunger to inject the plastic.
I had the army toy set that could make tanks, jeeps, trailers, rocket launchers and army men.
Some of the molds were multipart, like for the tank, that would make the side tread impressions that you would pull out of the main mold with the tank and then remove the side pieces.
I loved the toy because as the parts becaume scuffed or broken, I just crushed up the part and tossed it back into the melter to be reused.
As an adult, I tracked down a few on eBay and purchased them with the idea of using my wood CompuCarver to create new molds.
I'll let you know if I ever get that far, but this product is a grownup version of the toy I had in the 60's.
I tried to get a similar toy for my stepson, but it had been dumbed down to be safer (no learning to avoid hot plastic being dripped on you) to the point of being useless (no multipart molds, just poured like a cake, no injection).
Droid, actually, it might not be as big a deal as you might think. There are lots of small shops that have CNC machines. Some do that for living (I had a uncle who did that). Others would probably do it for a fee. As long as you have the file, you should be able to do it.
Clinton, I agree this isn't a new idea, but an example of what an inventive engineer or technically-minded hands-on person can do. I think your point is well-taken--that 3D printing has helped inspire a DIY trend. This machine is DYI on two counts--one the inventor/builder building it, and two, what it enables other DIY-ers to do, as it enabled his electronic kit business. I like your hypothetical situation of others tweaking or reinventing these machines for their own needs. That's part of the whole spirit.
Thanks for letting us know about your products, Eric. From the photos on your site, these look like more professional, much higher-priced machines. The point of the Kickstarter project was to create a smaller, simpler DIY machine that costs less than what's available. Can you tell us what your prices are?
Nice article Ann. It's interesting that while this isn't really a new idea (ref. many of the examples cited in the other comments), this product may have legs because of the success of the 3D printers. 3D printers are reawakening the do-it-yourself spirit that seem to have waned in last 20-30 years and a DIY injection molding machine has a place in that resurgence. Timing is everything...
And while I expected GTO's reaction from someone, I don't think anyone is suggesting that this machine is going to replace industrial injection molders or injection molding professionals. That isn't the target market and isn't the correct application.
However, if some small-framed DIYer did try to mold a thin-walled part and couldn't do it because they couldn't exert enough pressure, that DIYer would probably dive in to create a fix, either by learning about flow channels, making a longer lever arm or hooking a motor up to assist in actuating it. And if this then leads to blowing the mold apart, it opens the door to more learning and more solutions.
Anything that inspires more people to do for themselves and get their hands dirty is a good thing.
I do not see injection molding as a desktop item. It just requires heavy duty equipment for any meaningful size. Yes 3D printers can accomplish more for the same size machine. No offense but what are you going to construct with 0.4in cube? Plastic stand offs is about it? There is only so many ways you can design stand offs then what next? Purchase a larger injection molding machine? Other than educating people about injection molding I do not believe this item has any other use.
I really love this idea! Low cost, but functional within reasonable limits. There is a healthy market for hobbyists in the USA wanting to make things right in their own garage.
I see a larger positive trend with these machines and others like it. By having affordable 3-D printing (and now injection molding!) tools made local used by locals, you have a more vibrant economy. At the very least, its more options for the designer to get their product either made by their own hands or by their neighbor down the street.
As an injection molding professional, the idea that this makes quality parts is subjective. If you mean swizzle sticks and screw driver handles, then yes it is probably good. But if you think that this could mold a complex, thin-walled device with tight tolerances, good luck.
The idea of process control for this press is entirely operator dependant. Can you imagine a small framed person trying to push plastic into a mold quickly to try and fill thin walled part. Or having some large framed person standing on the plunger (for the pack and hold pressure phase of the molding process) making thick parts that are larger and more dense than the previous (pack and hold pressure being one of many variables controlling part quality)?
Not to bash this in totality, it is cool and I want one for myself. But it is a nitch machine for a nitch market. Recognize what it can and cannot do!
By the way, I remember in high school shop many, many years ago having a similar type plunger machine. The instructor had two molds, one a screwdriver handle and one an army guy. We were able to turn it on, put our choice of colored plastic into the hopper, wait for the charge to melt, and then ram the handle to push the plastic into the mold. Everyone got a screwdriver and an army guy! The teaching was that plastic can be melted and pushed into another form. I guess that was the point of the machine and shop experience.
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