Are you in the market for a desktop injection molding machine? While many company's choose to outsource production of their plastic products and parts, the introduction of low cost benchtop injection molding machines is causing many companies to rethink their operations.
Even if you're getting excellent pricing from your current manufacturer you still have to consider the fact that they must build a profit into each part they produce. Their economies of scale may allow them to do this and still produce the product more cheaply, but in some cases you can now manufacture them yourself and save significant money.
APSX-PIM Desktop Electric Plastic Injection Machine
While there aren't a lot of players in this market yet, there is one company that has brought a product to market that has thus far proved to be the best in the industry.
The APSX-PIM is designed to compete against desktop 3D printers by offering benefits not achievable with 3D printing. By far the most important is a higher quality, more repeatable result.
3D printers work from a pre-designed template or design, but they have serious limitations. In terms of materials they can only utilize those that can be extruded, melted, or squirted through a nozzle. This severely limits the uses of the resulting products. The APSX-PIM on the other hand uses regular resin pellets. This allows for a larger variety of products that can withstand different temperatures, pressures, and stresses.
Features of the APSX-PIM
The APSX-PIM utilizes a compression spring, heated barrel with a motorized plunger. It has a shot capacity of 1.83 cubic inches and will work with molds up to 6 by 4.8 inches.
In terms of molds it will work with aluminum, steel, or CNC cut inserts. It will also work with 3D printed molds. What really sets it apart though is it's ability to work with a wide variety of plastic resins. This includes:
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
- High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Polypropylene Plastic (PP)
- Polystyrene (PS)
- Thermoplastic Elastomeric Olefin (TPO)
The unit includes a 10" touch screen to control all functions of the process. From here you'll be able to start and stop the machine, make adjustments to settings, and monitor the progress of each cycle.
In terms of size the APSX-PIM is surprisingly compact. It measures 4' L X 1' D X 1' H. It weighs in at 250lbs.
It requires 110V power and utilizes a heater of 1200W. It utilizes air cooling for the mold area so no dedicated water supply is necessary. An electronically controlled fan is built into the top of the molding area. The temperature is precisely controlled throughout each cycle using a setting in the control panel. Once this is set the unit monitors the temperature and adjusts the fan speed accordingly.
Compared to larger industrial sized machines the 60-second cycle time is slow. But compared to 3D printing which can take DAYS, it is incredibly fast.
Other notable features:
- stainless steel, aluminum 6061, bronze, and delrin parts
- fully automatic with precision sensors
- Injection speed control for precise fill rate
- Metal injection molding (MIM) ready
A portable ventilation system with carbon filters is recommended. There are several options on the market, but one of the most popular can be found here. This source-capture fume extractor is quiet, utilizes a powerful fan, a flame-retardant and self-supportive flex arm, and a wide variety of high-quality filtration options.
Costs Associated with Injection Molding
One of the biggest reasons companies start researching small plastic injection molding machines is because of the cost of having someone manufacture parts for them. In addition to production costs which are usually on a per unit basis, there's also the cost of the mold itself.
A custom mold can run anywhere from $5,000 on the VERY low end to upwards of $50,000 (or even higher) for bigger or more complicated parts. Injection molder companies typically pass the mold costs along to the client as either an upfront cost or built into the cost of each unit produced. The latter generally requires a long-term contract with set pricing for a period of time until the cost of mold design and production is covered.
Either way the cost of producing the mold itself is often a large barrier for small manufacturers and parts studios.
Injection Molding at Home
While pricing in this type of hardware has come down significantly it's still not affordable for most hobby or DIY users. While this tabletop machine can be practical for small manufacturers the price point puts it well out of the range of most home users.