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Are You Overlooking the Benefits of Thermoset Molding?
The process offers a wider range of molded part properties, fewer design constraints, and lower cost for short-run production quantities, according to the co-founder of Itek.
October 30, 2023
2 Min Read
Artur/iStock via Getty Images
In comparison with injection molding, thermoset molding has a number of advantages, according to Michael Tratch, co-founder of Québec-based Itek. The process offers a wider range of molded part properties, fewer design constraints, and a lower cost for short-run production quantities. “All of this, while achieving time to market that is three to five times faster,” Tratch told PlasticsToday.
Despite these benefits, part designers tend to consider thermoset plastics and molding as an outdated prototyping material and process, said Tratch. “They have replaced thermoset molding with 3D printing. At Itek, we have invested in thermoset processing to focus on the short-run molding market for real-world parts. We are not seeking to compete with 3D-printed prototyping,” said Tratch.
A simpler, less costly way to build molds
In terms of mold making, the process is simpler and less costly than injection molding. First-off parts can be manufactured in one to two weeks, noted Tratch. When cast in silicone rubber, for example, the molds do not require expensive machining or polishing equipment or skilled personnel, he added. “Vacuum casting can produce high-performance, pore-free, homogenous, and color-matched complex parts, and it enables the full reproduction of complex surface textures without painting,” explained Tratch. Special gating and filling designs to compensate for shrinkage in the molded part are eliminated, he added.
As for molded parts, less shrinkage increases design flexibility. Furthermore, as few as three to five parts can be produced in different colors and with different resins.
Cost-effective alternative to short-run injection molding
“Thermoset molding is a cost-effective alternative to short-run molding currently performed by injection molding in machined steel dies,” stressed Tratch. “At Itek, we focus on limited-volume custom products, such as housings for industrial, medical, telecommunications, and laboratory apparatus, as well as related accessories, such as bumpers, handles, cable junctions, holding brackets, interface devices, and so forth.”
Tratch will do a deep dive into thermoset molding at PLAST-EX, part of Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Toronto, at the Toronto Congress Center from Nov. 7 to 9, 2023. His presentation is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 2:25 p.m. on the Centre Stage.
ADM Toronto, which includes co-locates devoted to design and manufacturing, automation, packaging, and powder and bulk solids processing in addition to plastics, is organized by Informa Markets – Engineering, which also produces PlasticsToday.
About the Author(s)
Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].
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