Archive for the Injection Molding Temperature Control Category

National Manufacturing Month

When Manufacturing Day launched on Oct. 4, 2012, hundreds of manufacturing companies and thousands of people participated in the first annual event highlighting the value of manufacturing to the United States economy and its highly skilled careers. This response prompted an extension of the day into the entire month of October.

Through a series of open houses, public tours, career workshops and other events on Oct., 4, 2013, and throughout the rest of the month, hundreds of manufacturers will draw public attention to manufacturing’s present-day reality by opening their doors and showing, in a coordinated effort, exactly what manufacturing and careers therein are — and what they aren’t.

Modern manufacturing environments are commonly thought of as dark, dangerous factories designed for low-skilled workers, when in fact today’s manufacturing environments include highly trained, well-paid employees who work on state-of-the-art equipment. Today’s manufacturing facilities are sleek, technology-driven places that include robots, automated machinery, screen technologies and increasingly more 3-D printing technologies. Present-day engineers and developers in manufacturing are building on engineers’ past technological innovations to create the next breakthroughs that will address tomorrow’s great challenges.

Ultimately, manufacturing is an attractive mixture of cutting-edge tech and traditional hands-on work. Many professionals today are so involved in their electronic and digital lives that they may feel removed from the actual “stuff” that they are involved in producing. Even while utilizing sophisticated digital tools, manufacturers have the unique benefit of being makers – working with the satisfaction of making real products for people.

The nation’s manufacturing sector provides a number of other compelling reasons for young people to pursue manufacturing careers. For instance, did you know that the annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000? Or that 90 percent of them have medical benefits? Moreover, despite all the doom-and-gloom news in recent years about how manufacturing jobs are shrinking, manufacturers have the highest job tenure in the private sector.

The importance of manufacturing and the role of its workers in bringing innovative improvements to the people who need them can hardly be overstated. And the large-scale results are clearly felt. According to information provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a cosponsor of Manufacturing Day:

  • For every dollar of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.43 for the U.S. economy;
  • In just five states, manufacturing adds more than half a trillion dollars to the nation’s economy;
  • Manufacturers are responsible for almost two-thirds of all private-sector research and development; and
  • Each manufacturing job creates at least 2.91 more jobs in other sectors.

Manufacturing Day/Month presents a great opportunity to showcase how modern manufacturing is not our grandfathers’ manufacturing anymore, and is a chance to attract young people and get them excited about pursuing a highly rewarding career in a technology-driven, innovative environment that will also provide a good-paying job. It is a chance to correct common misperceptions about manufacturing in the United States today.

Heat Transfer Fluids: Who and What Are They For?

Heat transfer fluids serve a wide variety of industrial needs, including very simple, static designs as well as complex multi-loop systems that perform multiple functions in a manufacturing process.

As many variations as there are in the utilization and design of processes using heat transfer fluids, there are nearly as many industries that employ them.  Their advantages are seen by a broad range of applications (mainly within the process industries) and hundreds of thousands of users daily. So what exactly are they, and why do they work so well?

Multiple industry images

In the strictest sense of the term, a heat transfer fluid is any fluid (gaseous or liquid) used where a process must be heated and/or cooled.  Therefore, this could include water and steam, but for the purposes of this post, we will mainly discuss engineered heat transfer fluids, which are products made from petroleum or synthetic-based feedstocks.

However, when looking at the benefits of engineered heat transfer fluids, it’s important to understand why they are advantageous over water and steam heat transfer, as well as compared to direct heat application.  The benefits include:

Engineered heat transfer fluids vs. water/steam—Water freezes at 32°F, a limitation that engineered heat transfer fluids don’t suffer; water also boils at 212°F(at sea level), and anything above that creates a pressurized condition which requires stronger material, another limitation engineered heat transfer fluids don’t have.  Engineered fluids’ range (in the liquid phase) is much wider, at -150°F to 650°F and above.  Water and steam also require higher maintenance costs and greater safety concerns.

Engineered heat transfer fluids vs. direct heat application—Engineered heat transfer fluids provide greater control, greater precision, and greater uniformity in heating and/or cooling.

So what industries benefits from their use, and in what ways?

INDUSTRY EXAMPLES OF APPLICATION
Food Meat & Poultry Further Processing, Snack Foods
Chemicals Batch Reactors, Continuous Processes
Plastics, Rubbers, and Composites Molding, Blow Molding, Extrusion
Petrochemicals Catalysis, Distillation, Synthesis
Oil and Gas Gas Processing, Refineries
Converting Presses, Rolls, Laminating, Printing
Asphalt and Concrete Concrete Heating, Hot-Mix Paving
Building Materials Engineered Woods, Roofing Materials
Die Casting Die Temperature Control
Industrial Laundry Flat Work Ironers, Steam Generators

 

The above chart outlines a partial view of the wide range of industries and applications where heat transfer fluids are applied.

To review a more comprehensive list of applications and equipment utilizing heat transfer fluids, click here.

FAQs about Plastic Injection Molding Temperature Control

Why control the temperature?

Many of the plastic injection molding and plastic blowmolding applications require even and precise control of temperature in order to successfully fabricate small compact–or intricate–components and finished products.    In many cases, “hot spots” or areas of localized heating from electric heating elements will not provide enough precision or even-temperature, in order to ensure that the product is of the best quality throughout.

How can you control the temperature?

There are a variety of ways that the temperature can be controlled when doing injection molding.  The best method is to utilize heat transfer fluids.  These are now the standard in the industry.  Molding machines, extruders, and reservoirs can be heated and cooled to exact temperatures via heat transfer fluids.  If they are applied at a controlled rate and circulated around the element being heated, they are very useful in precisely maintaining temperatures.

What are heat transfer fluids?

Water is the most common fluid, but sometimes it isn’t the best, especially in very high temperature situations.   There are other options (non-aqueous fluids) that are best for very high or even low temperature applications.  As well there are fluids that are better suited for either indirect heating or even for cooling (extracting heat from) the molds.

These fluids pass easily through the many small flow passage areas of molds and dies used in the plastics industry.  The fluids are not corrosive and are thermally stable as long as they are used within their applicable temperature ranges.

When should heat transfer fluids be used?

Heat transfer fluids can be used in almost every part of the manufacture of plastic materials and synthetic fibers.  When operating temperatures preclude a fluid like water, an engineered heat transfer fluid should be specified for operating temperatures ranging from -150 degrees F to 400 degrees F.  In addition, when the operating temperatures reach as high as 550 degrees F, specialized high-temperature heat transfer fluids should be used.  Various cooling and heating fluids can operate in temperatures that range from minus -40 degrees F to 550 degrees F.

What other industries besides plastics use these fluids?

Industries such as Adhesives, Textiles, Food Processing and Chemical can utilize heat transfer fluids.

For more detailed discussion about hot oils in plastics manufacturing processes, see…

Hot Oil Temperature Control in Plastics Applications; Operations and Troubleshooting