The elimination of secondary operations is pushing multi-shot plastic injection molding and compression molding into a new level of manufacturing efficiency. CS Tool Engineering is an expert in designing and building molds that enable in-mold assembly (or IMA), an exciting new frontier in manufacturing technology.
These molds have the ability to insert component parts directly into the mold, be it a plastic substrate, aluminum extrusion, tempered glass, metal clips, or attachment studs inserted into both sides of the tool with end-of-arm tooling. Sensors within the mold can then monitor the part’s placement prior to the injection cycle. The resulting molded assembly saves secondary labor operations and its associated costs.
For instance, a common mold design for an encapsulated window will have the necessary provisions for holding the glass, retaining bright stainless steel trim, locating internal molded stiffeners, and mounting plastic or steel studs. Sometimes the addition of aluminum extrusion slider rails (such as with rear truck windows), can make holding the aluminum in the mold challenging during the injection process.
This is where IMA comes in.
How Does In-Mold Assembly (IMA) Work?
Special technology for IMA is found in the tooling, rather than in the molding press. This is because the tooling also acts as an assembly fixture, by holding the previously molded parts during subsequent molding stages. The final molded assembly (pending any secondary operations that cannot occur within the molding operation) is a product that is ready to ship to the original equipment manufacturer.
Benefits of IMA
In addition to the economic advantages of IMA, increased product quality is the major benefit. In-mold assembly develops a more consistent component. The component assembly is not subject to the same warpage or shrinkage issues seen when secondary operations are used. The result is a significant reduction in part count and improved overall productivity through the elimination of several assembly operations.
- Eliminates work-in-progress inventories.
- Reduces the need for separate presses and molds.
- Reduces labor and floor space requirements.
- Improves registration or alignment of a part for assembly.
- Reduces the total time to produce an assembly.
- Allows production of parts with features that would be cost-prohibitive or impossible to produce by conventional assembly process.
IMA eliminates the need for conveyors, bowl feeders, fixtures and ultrasonic welders. It removes potential sources of scrap parts caused by mishandling, misalignment, process variations or contamination.
At CS Tool Engineering, we are proud to be a part of developing the innovations, like In‑mold assembly, that power our future.