Beaumont (Erie, PA) announced that it was issued a patent by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on August 4, 2015, for its Therma-flo plastic molding characterization technology. The patent was minimally challenged, said the company, because of its truly novel and revolutionary approach. All 84 claims within the patent ultimately were approved, making Therma-flo the first technology with a method and systems patent for characterizing the injection moldability of plastic materials, according to Beaumont.
Therma-flo was initially developed to measure and quantify how a polymer flows through a mold under a wide range of cavity and runner thicknesses and diameters, explained Beaumont. The technology is part of a fully integrated and semi-automated test cell at its facility that includes Therma-flo moldometer tooling, a high-performance injection molding machine with specially developed controls and a high speed data-collection system. Compatible software enables the mapping of the injection molding characteristics of a polymer. The software was developed to manage the extensive data set generated for a given polymer and extend its practical application to product, tooling, polymer and software development, said Beaumont. A Sodick Plastech two-stage injection molding machine is used to prepare the melt and perform precision molding.
Common cavity flow-channel thicknesses range from 0.020 to 0.160 in. (0.5 to 4 mm). However, additional cartridges are available to characterize moldability through mold channels as thin as 0.008 in. (0.20 mm), and specialized cartridges can be used for evaluating micro molding, LCPs and automotive applications.
During testing, the plastic melt undergoes up to 700 tests, which include injecting the melt through a wide range of channels under various injection rates and temperatures. Flow velocity and melt pressures are captured by the integrated high-speed data-collection system.
"This new technology will help advance the injection molding industry by providing information that has never been available," said John Beaumont, President, in a prepared statement. "Part of what has made this technology so exciting is the breadth of information it puts at one's fingertips. This has allowed us and our clients to significantly accelerate the understanding of plastic flow in a mold and uniquely investigate the injection molding process. The newest software not only allows one to evaluate how a material molds, but can be used to help identify optimum molding processes. Those involved with the development of new polymers, or people with injection molding simulation programs, can get further use of the technology by reading classical rheological data for extended visualization and evaluation against actual molded data," said Beaumont.