What is Micro Molding?
Micro molding (or micro moulding) is a unique form of injection molding that requires precision and expertise. A mold with a cavity that dictates the shape of the part is made, moldable material is injected into the cavity, and once the material is set, a part is produced. Micro molding is utilized by multiple industries, from medical devices, telecom fiber optics, automotive, and more.
Distinguishing Between Micro Molding and Regular Molding
The size of the part produced is tiny or micro, hence the term micro molding. These micro parts are often used in conjunction with a larger item. In other words, they are tiny components or micro-features of a larger product. Micro intolerance refers to how accurately or close to the needed dimensions the part can be to qualify as a usable piece. As a micro part is made, it must be within specific dimensions (or tolerances), as precise as a thousandth of an inch. If the part is simple to make and does not have a specific tolerance it would be considered regular molding instead of micro molding.
Micro Injection Molding Process
To produce a micro part, a precise system is developed for the material used to reach its melting point and then transfer it to the micro molding cavity. Full control of the micro molding project from tool design, build, and maintenance are key features of good micro injection molding companies. First, the custom micro mold is produced for a project. Once the mold is perfected, the material selected is heated and then quickly injected into the mold using high pressure. After the injection, the molten material begins its cooling process. This is when the custom micro part begins to take shape. After the part is cooled, it is ejected from the mold and the process begins again. Thousands of custom micro parts can be produced using this process.
Micro Molding Materials
Common materials used for micro molding are polymers, resins, thermoplastics, thermosets, and elastomers. This includes PEI, nylon, elastomeric, durometer, liquid crystal polymer, as well as medical-grade materials. Luckily, there are a wide selection of molding materials to choose from. By carefully selecting the proper material, it is feasible to create a mold that is smaller than a dime.
Micro Molding Project
Precision and expertise are required for the micro molding process. As long as the mold is produced accurately and the right materials are chosen, micro parts are easy to make in large volumes. Unfortunately at this time ICOMold does not do micro molding.