Revolutionizing Injection Molding: The Power of Automation

The injection molding industry is undergoing a transformation, driven by the increasing demand for its products. With the global market projected to exceed $419 billion by 2030, manufacturers are faced with the challenge of meeting this growing demand while dealing with persistent issues such as staffing shortages and output limitations.

Why Automation Is Essential For Injection Molding:
Automation has emerged as the ultimate solution to the challenges faced by manufacturers in the injection molding industry. Labor shortages and the technical skills gap can significantly hamper productivity. Moreover, handling high-temperature equipment and parts poses safety hazards for employees, leading to turnover and inconsistent cycle times. Automation offers a way to address these issues effectively. It enhances safety, improves efficiency, reduces defects, and more.

Automated Injection Molding in Action:
The most popular and effective approach to automation in injection molding is the integration of machine-tending robots with the equipment. These robots perform tasks traditionally done by employees, either through remote operation or full autonomy. Numerous manufacturers have successfully implemented this strategy, surpassing their previous throughput limits while ensuring a better working environment for their employees.

Case Study: ICON Injection Molding:
ICON Injection Molding, based in Phoenix, Arizona, faced various industry challenges, including unsafe work conditions, long lead times, high costs, and low output. By collaborating with automation provider Formic, they introduced a customized robotic arm to tend their injection molding machines. The results were remarkable - 30% faster cycle times, round-the-clock operation, increased employee satisfaction, and improved quality consistency.

Case Study: KC Robotics:
Ohio-based developer KC Robotics partnered with a client facing similar challenges to address limited floor space. They designed a compact two-robot system to transfer units from presses to cooling racks. The implementation resulted in shorter cycle times, increased efficiency, improved product quality, and enhanced employee satisfaction. The user-friendly interface of the robots facilitated quick and safe employee orientation, making automation accessible and safer for manufacturing jobs.

Challenges of Automation:
While automation brings tremendous benefits, it is not without its challenges. Employee training and repeatability are the main hurdles. Selecting robots with user-friendly interfaces and providing training assistance can help overcome training concerns. Addressing repeatability issues requires creativity, and 3D printing offers a solution. By utilizing 3D printing technology, custom end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) can be created, minimizing defects and maximizing return on investment.

Embracing the Future of Injection Molding:
With the demand for injection molding products on the rise, manufacturers must seek innovative solutions to evolve their operations. Automation is the key to taking injection molding to the next level. By implementing automated injection molding, manufacturers can increase throughput, enhance product quality, and reduce employee turnover, ensuring a competitive edge in this rapidly growing industry.