Do you remember when you were a kid; there were two examples of modern industry at the Zoo? One was the little coining press that took your copper penny and rolled it into a coined medallion; the other was micro injection press that molded a little bear as a souvenir in front of the Polar Bear house. For a Quarter, you watched a little mold-press produce your bear. I still remember the smell of molten polycarbonate I smelled for the very first time.
Thanks, Al. This made me think of a Gadget Freak article in reverse: what would happen if one of our many innovative, creative Gadget Freak inventors had gone ahead and commercialized his/her invention and sold it? I've noticed reader requests for exactly that on some Gadget Freak comment boards.
Since 1968 Morgan Plastic has made handy little presses for engineers and small manufacturers. See: http://www.morganindustriesinc.com/ You can buy them on the used market for little money. For years we used parts from these presses when large production was impossible.
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.
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.
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