The world's largest low-pressure injection molding machine, designed and constructed by Infiltrator Systems at the company's Winchester, KY, manufacturing facility, took five months to engineer and nine months to build. However, today the machine is producing the Infiltrator IM 1530 Septic Tank product line being molded in a mold designed and built by Franchino Mold and Engineering of Lansing, MI. The mold installed in the press weighs 420,000 lbs. and molds a 15-foot long, 245-lb. polypropylene tank half, which the company claims is the world's largest molded part.
The mold is built with aluminum core and cavity, housed in a steel mold base in what is known as a "hybrid mold" and took more than 10,000 man-hours to build. The cavity work was done using multiple Tarus 5-axis mills with table sizes of 114" x 120." It also contains the largest hot runner manifold system in operation in the world, explained Todd Phillips, VP of Franchino, which specializes the design engineering and manufacturing of very large molds to produce products that challenge the limits of injection molding. "This is the largest mold we've made to date," Phillips told PlasticsToday.
|Inside of the mold|
Franchino previously created what is now the world's second largest mold, Infiltrator System's IM-1060 tank in a mold to produce a part weighing 160 lbs.
Bryan Coppes, VP of engineering at Infiltrator Systems, said, "Rounding out the successful IM-Tank product line was a high priority for Infiltrator. Franchino is our largest tooling vendor and with their experience with our other large-part molds it made them the right choice for this project."
Coppes told PlasticsToday that the company's success with its 1000-gallon septic tanks led the market to demand tanks in a 1500-gallon size. Infiltrator is the world's largest septic products company. Molding a tank this large required a 6,000-ton low-pressure injection molding machine. "We brought in a lot of resources to help us redesign and engineer a press to make it suitable for our needs," Coppes explained. Infiltrator molds its own product and parts requirements in-house, and also has a number of regular injection molding presses to mold its other products.
Each shot is a mirror image of itself with a cutout in the top for tank access. "Other than that the tanks are symmetrically the same," said Coppes. One half has gaskets and the halves are sealed together. The parts handling and finishing stations utilize what Infiltrator believes is the largest six-axis robot in the world.
Franchino has many years (16-18) of experience with building aluminum and hybrid aluminum and steel tooling for very large parts. Phillips said that some of those molds the company built have one to two million shots on them, a testament to the longevity of aluminum tooling in many large-part molding applications.
Phillips noted that the biggest challenge was the logistics involved in delivering the mold. After the mold was built, it was disassembled and placed on a fleet of 15 trucks for shipping from Lansing, MI, to Winchester, KY. A team of moldmakers was then sent to Kentucky to re-assemble the