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Overmolding Changes the Face of Plastics Parts

SpecialChem / May 10, 2011

Overmolding can be used to enhance many features of products including aesthetics, mechanical locking, strong binding, decoration, labeling, electrical insulation or ESD behavior, improved grip, sound absorption and vibration damping, sealing, soft touch, water and chemical resistance… Insert molding, more suitable for short runs, uses common or special single shot injection molding machines reducing tooling costs but increasing labor and cycle times. Multi-shot molding, more suitable for long runs, reduces cycle times, achieves superior part quality and reduces labor costs but tools and machines are specific and more expensive.

The manufactured hybrid materials allow combining very different features of non plastic materials (metal, glass, electronics devices…) and polymers, thermoplastics, thermosetting resins, TPEs, rubbers. Hybrid techniques associating polymers and metals combine the rigidity of the used metal and the overmoulded plastic adds 3D details allowing to include numerous functionalities. This leads to the elimination of assembling stages, the reduction of overall dimensional defects, the suppression of welding operations able to cause metal deformations.

Hybrid techniques associating polymers and textiles, printed or decorated films, real wood or leather change the face of the core giving totally new aspect, touch, color, and spreading information. Hybrids associating rigid plastics and soft TPEs are developing for soft touch parts, sealing, damping combined with structural functionalities.

Overmolding is a versatile technique with numerous versions such as, for example: Outer skin overmolding, back molding, in-mould decoration (IMD), in-mould labeling (IML), textile overmolding, leather lining, outsert molding, DirectSkinning, low Pressure & low temperature overmolding for electronics… Well-known overmoulded products are soft handles of toothbrushes or razors and soft grip of power tools but other high-tech parts are concerned in all the sectors from Electricity & Electronics (Smart cables integrating connections and circuitry; embedded electronics) up to automotive (DirectSkinning technology combining the thermoplastic injection and RIM process). Many plastics families are involved: commodity and engineering thermoplastics and thermosets, TPEs, silicone rubbers, polyurethanes, epoxies, acrylics…

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