Manufacturers are always clamoring for smaller and smaller plastic and metal molded parts, especially for medical equipment.
But as parts got smaller, the molding process grew to involve repeated cycles of injection molding, debinding, then sintering, which boosts costs and production time. A new approach to injection molding developed at Phillips PlasticsCorp., Hudson, Wis. (phillipsplastics.com), eliminates all machining. It works with stainless steels, titanium, nickel and tool steels, tungsten, superalloys, softmagnetic alloys, and plastics. Parts can range in volume from 0.003 down to 0.0001 cu in. with tolerances to ±0.0005 in./in. The process reduces prices because customers need not pay for tooling, and lead times are shorter.