Cylindrical and thin-walled plastic parts can give design engineers a real headache. When made from reinforced plastics, the former often have a weak spot at their knit lines and can all too easily go out of round as the part shrinks. The latter can be so difficult to fill that you may end up compromising with thicker walls or beefier part features than you would like. And thin-wall parts often have to run on specialized molding machines that can drive up piece-part costs.
You may think the only place to solve both of these classic plastic design problems is on the drawing board. But recent advances in injection molding technology have also contributed solutions that play out on the shop floor. Solvay Advanced Polymers (Alpharetta, GA) has developed a patented molding process that makes cylindrical parts stronger and rounder. And Engel GmbH, an Austrian manufacturer of molding systems, has patented a way to make thin-wall parts even thinner by compressing the molten plastic before injecting it into the cavity. Here's a closer look at both developments.
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