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What machines are used for plastic injection molding in cleanrooms?

Plastic injection production in San Antonio and in the world follows strict controls to guarantee quality and safety, both in the final result as in all the processes. 

In this way, the strict compliance to international certifications in plastic injection is one of the obligations of plastic parts manufacturers in general.

And what happens when our products or plastic production needs to be done in a cleanroom? Do you know what we refer to? Don’t worry, today we are going to talk about these spaces and the plastic injection machines required, as well as their main characteristics. 

The production of plastic objects is a process that must be completely regulated and pollution-free, to whatever degree, to ensure that your company fulfills national and international standards.

What are cleanrooms? 

Remember that cleanrooms are rooms designed to control contamination to 100% in diverse processes as of production or investigation, with the double purpose to eliminate the presence of suspension particles, as well as the possible microbial presence. 

Each raw material and its processes has production and quality standards to accomplish. In our case, each plastic polymer has a chemical behavior, in particular to the external conditions of the transformation process, hence the importance of knowing the potential of plastic injection and the requirements to ensure the optimal operation of the cleanroom

The diversity of industries served by plastic production in Mexico and the world have in cleanrooms an ally, due to the standardization of quality and results that can be achieved.

A very clear example is the healthcare industry, where medical devices made of plastic have been saving the lives of millions of patients for more than 100 years. In this way, cleanrooms operate through 5 controls:

  1. Spacial control
  2. Air control
  3. Operators control
  4. Pressurizer control
  5. Temperature control

In turn, cleanrooms have two main uses: production or assembly. In the case of plastic injection molding, we will generally refer to the first case.

This is a very important factor for several situations that will be mentioned below, among which a doubling of air volume to maintain a balance in the production cleanrooms stands out.

Which machines are most frequently used in plastic injection molding?

In the case of the cleanroom of plastic production, the injection machine is the main equipment on which the design of the other spaces will be assembled. 

The injection machine melts the plastic material at high temperatures, empties the plastic into a mold with the final shape we want to obtain, which then cools and solidifies into the required product or part. In this sense, injection machines can be of 3 types:

  1. Hydraulics
  2. Electric
  3. Hybrids

Electric plastic injection molding machines are usually smaller and have a variety of advantages, among which are higher efficiency and a more environmentally friendly process compared to other types of machines. This is the main reason why Precision Group implements 100% electric machines. 

Hydraulic machines, on the other hand, are more complex because they transform hydraulic power into mechanical power, which is why they are often used in more complex industrial processes.

The final decision between one or the other will be based on the production of the cleanroom, as well as the quality and cleanliness standards required for your product or process. In turn, plastic injectors consist of 5 basic parts or units:

  1. Injection unit: the plastic is deposited and melted at higher temperatures, then injected into the mold
  2. Mold unit: in this space will be our injection mold with the desired final form.
  3. Closure unit: also known as press, it consists of 2 arms that open and close holding the mold during the injection.
  4. Power unit: it is the set of systems that give energy to the injector. 
  5. Control unit: command control that monitors every machine operation. 

For cleanrooms it is usually required to isolate the plastic injection molding machine, connecting it with conveyor belts to another space or clean room to continue its way to the final packaging. This decision will need to be made in consultation with your plastic injection molding supplier.

Needed infrastructure for a cleanroom

Each cleanroom is governed by international laws and certain own rules of the plastic injection process as the following:

  1. Injection machines should be electric or hybrid, with water-cooled motors in the clamping unit. 
  2. There should also be a cleaning module that controls air ionization to avoid contamination in the space.
  3. The clean room should have high efficiency air filters (HEPA filters) in the injection molding machine’s clamping units. 
  4. The closure units should be stainless steel, as well as the mold plates with nickel plating, to maintain total and constant sterilization. 
  5. The base of the machine shall be elevated to fully clean underneath it. 
  6. The surfaces of the injector need a coating resistant to abrasion or possible scratches.

What standards do plastic injection molding machines for clean rooms have to meet?

Most cleanrooms for plastic injection molding have to comply with class 7 and 8 guidelines of the European Community’s GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards. In some cases, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines also apply.

Regarding the machinery used for plastic injection molding, the GMP guidelines state that every equipment and tools on the manufacturing processes must be calibrated and qualified constantly, according to periodic evaluations.

All actions in the production process must be validated according to these standards, with proper documentation.

Do you want to start your production in a cleanroom for plastic injection? In Precision Group, we have 37 years of being leaders in the industry. Come to us, we are waiting for you. Leave us your comments and share this article with colleagues and acquaintances. See you next time!