Do you know how ceramics are made? Do you know where they are used? Are you even sure what ceramics are? Chances are that, if you are not working directly with those materials, you don’t really know much about the topic. However, perhaps you should; ceramics are all around us and have many applications that you may not be aware of. One of the ways to get relatively inexpensive, but highly durable ceramic parts is injection molding – essentially a process not unlike plastic molding where the material is injected into a mold and left to harden, creating perfect copies which can be used interchangeably. It doesn’t take a genius to realize how useful this can be.
We reached out to injection molding professionals at Wunder Mold in California to tell us more about the process itself and some of the most common applications.
How It All Started
The technology of injection molding ceramics may sound like the latest development in material design, but it has actually been around for quite a while. In fact, the original injection molding tech has been around for a full hundred years. Injection molding was developed to manufacture the bodies of spark plugs, an important component of internal combustion engines that powered (and still power) our cars and similar vehicles. However, that was where the technology stagnated and remained for over half a century. It was only in the 80s and 90s that new applications began to be found for injection-molded ceramics, as the technology got better and more precise.
Seeing how ceramics is a very malleable material which can be treated to become very hard and resistant, the applications for injection-molded ceramics are pretty wide and diverse. Another important quality of ceramics is that it is chemically inert (it will not react chemically with other substances), and an electrical insulator. It is, therefore, unsurprising that many of the applications of injection-molded ceramics are in the chemical and electronics sectors. Whether they are supposed to stop noxious chemicals from damaging less resistant materials, or protecting our equipment from high voltages, ceramic parts are highly durable and can be replaced fairly easily thanks to the precision of injection molding. Another field where ceramic materials have become indispensable is the dental industry. Ceramic teeth have numerous qualities similar to our natural teeth, including the visuals, which made them the preferred choice over other materials.
Advantages of Injection Molding Over Other Production Methods
Even though it sounds like a very simple production process, injection molding does come with its own set of challenges. The first and foremost is that the mold itself needs to be manufactured to very precise specifications, which makes injection molding ceramics only suitable when a large volume of items needs to be created. However, once the mold is created, injection molding is a terrific process. It can be used to manufacture an indefinite number of identical copies which will all have the same properties. These parts can also be of complex shapes thanks to the production methods and you can expect all parts to be of the same quality, something that is very important in many industrial applications.
The Future of Injection Molding
The technology of injection molding is continually researched and improved thanks to the broad array of potential and current applications. In conjunction with new materials, ceramic parts can become more durable, stronger, or chemically less reactive, depending on the specific requirements of the application. This is one industry which has only just started being developed and will likely see many more improvements in the near future.