Within the manufacturing industry, there is a need for technicians who understand the injection molding process. While the most common path to learning the injection molding process has been on-the-job training, employers are increasingly looking for technicians who have graduated from a technical college. As machines increasingly become computerized and coupled with robots or quality control equipment, it is important that trained technicians understand a minimum level of computer programs. Additionally, a core understanding of the chemical nature of plastics significantly impacts the ability to troubleshoot problems during production.
Key Areas of Study
When learning the injection molding process, students must begin by mounting a mold onto the plastic injection molding press. The molds themselves can be quite complex. Each half of the mold must be securely mounted to either side of the press to ensure complete and safe compression. Since molds are often very heavy, a crane is typically used to position it within the machine. Safe practices must be demonstrated during this phase. Since heated plastic flows through the mold passages into the cavities where the part forms, a cooling process may be added to the cycle time. Depending upon the type of plastic chosen, water may be run through the mold to quickly chill and contract the part or the simple addition of time may be sufficient. Technicians must be able to do some plumbing when water is used during the process.
Once technicians master mounting the molds, they begin to work on troubleshooting techniques. In reality, troubleshooting requires constant learning since molds with different geometric configurations that use a wide variety of materials are constantly being introduced on a typical factory floor. However, understanding why cycle times matter, how data is collected and analyzed, and how different types of plastics behave when used are all critical elements necessary to reduce down times and wasted materials.
Finally, safe methods of working are critical. Proper lockout and tagging procedures are always required when performing maintenance on any machine. For many, a career that starts by learning the injection molding process is very satisfying. Good technicians who can skillfully demonstrate their knowledge are always in demand in factories.