The future and the past
Plastic injection industry is growing every year. The modern world cannot be imagined without it. But how did it all start and how will it evolve in the future?
Surprisingly, the first plastic injection machine is almost 150 years old. It was made in the USA by Hyatt brothers in 1872 with the purpose to manufacture billiard balls more efficiently and accurately. The material used was celluloid. The machine was very simple but it was able to produce various products, such as combs and buttons.
Drawing of the first plastic injection machine.
The next development was the evolution of materials used in plastic injection machines. 1907 saw the invention of a new synthetically manufactured plastic known as bakelite. Bakelite can be molded quickly and moldings made from it are heat and scratch resistant. The downside is that it is made from formaldehyde which is very dangerous to the human body.
In the 1930s, other new materials were invented. Some of them (polystyrene, PVC) are still used today.
Next interesting invention was the screw that moves and mixes the material before the injection. Although it was invented in 1946, this principle is still in use today.
Drawing of the screw invented by James Hendry
In the next decades, progress was again made due to the arrival of new materials and automatization. The first part removing robot was used in 1972 and the first completely electrical plastic injection machine was introduced in 1985.
The history of the plastic injection machine is very interesting. But what will the future bring?
Latest trends may provide an answer to that.
As people are getting more and more environmentally conscious, the plastic injection industry must adapt. Bio resins and environmentally friendly additives are very common and are being used more and more frequently. Recycling levels for plastic materials are high and are increasing.
The modern plastic injection machines are automated, but there is still some room for improvement.
Software is rapidly evolving and is offering new opportunities. Quality, mold designs and cost-efficiency are improving even more.
Plastic has a good weight to strength ratio. But that does not mean it cannot be improved. Composite plastic materials are now a growing trend. Materials like carbon fiber, wood and glass are mixed with plastic to improve the already good characteristics of plastic.
Toy bricks made from plastic-wood composite material