Micro Molding with Polyurethanes
Over the decades, products have become smaller and more streamlined. As a result, micro molding emerged as a solution for product designers to design small products and components to match today’s modern technology. In this post, we will uncover micro molding and the benefits of micro molding, especially, with thermoset polyurethanes.
What is Micro Molding?
Micro molding is a specialized manufacturing process that introduces liquid materials into a mold cavity to attain products that are typically the size of a dime or smaller – Hence, the name micro. This process enables product designers to design extremely small products and components with high precision and features.
Understanding The Process of Micro Molding
Micro molding is the use of traditional molding processes such as cast molding or injection molding, just at a micro level. This process can be as simple as transferring liquid materials into a mold cavity or as complex as a fully automated process. Essentially, the size of the part will dictate the appropriate materials and techniques needed to achieve desired results. For example, micro parts will depend heavily on tooling with precisely machined micro features. Tooling with larger features or mold cavities will oftentimes produce larger parts. Common materials used for micro molding are typically high-volume injection molded thermoplastics, such as silicone or polyethylene. However, micro molding can also be achieved using cast elastomeric materials, such as thermoset polyurethanes.
The Benefits of Micro Molding with PolyurethanesMicro molding with thermoset polyurethanes, in particular, enable product designers with almost unlimited design freedom and low to high volumes. Unlike its thermoplastic cousin, TPU, thermoset polyurethanes offer a significant amount of customization at any stage in development. For instance, thermoset polyurethanes can be chemically engineered into a solid or foam with varying levels of customizable properties, such as abrasion resistance, hardness, and Coefficient of Friction (COF) to name a few. For this reason, micro molding with thermoset polyurethanes can be a great solution to develop custom prototypes for validation to small and large volumes. To learn more about the differences between thermosets and thermoplastics, click here.
When to Consider Micro Molding with Polyurethanes
Many applications rely on small products and components where size and performance may be an issue. Micro molding, especially with thermoset polyurethanes, is typically ideal for applications including military & defense, medical devices, and packaging to name a few. Take the semiconductor industry as an example. Semiconductors endure extreme environments including corrosive chemicals, high temperatures, and extreme wear. When designing with thermoset polyurethanes, product designers can share specific physical property requirements with their manufacturer to meet demanding environmental concerns. Avoiding key details like this could possibly be a disadvantage to how our favorite electronic devices perform or cause significant damage while in use. To avoid any mishaps, micro molding with thermoset polyurethanes should be considered if customizable properties and molding flexibility are important factors in your product design.
If you are interested in exploring thermoset polyurethanes for your micro molded design idea, complete our design tool, here, or download our Durethane data sheet below to see some of the superior properties we can offer through our adaptable manufacturing process.