What Are Some Applications and Examples of Thermoset Molding?
Thermoset molding uses heated molds as opposed to thermoplastic where the molds are chilled. In thermoset molding a chemical reaction resulting from heat, pressure and a catalyst changes the molecular structure of the molding compound. This chaned is irreversible and results in physicl properties that are not available using thermoplastic material. Both injection molding presses and compression molding presses can be used with thermoset compounds.
- Thermoset injection molding
- Small or big parts (0.1g to 4.5kg)
- 75-500 tons tonnage capacity
- This process works best for electronic applications.
- Thermoset compression molding
- high-strength requirements
- low-weight components
- small or big parts
- up to 800 tons tonnage capacity
- aerospace and aircraft applications
Thermoset molding comes with a host of benefits that make it an attractive option for a wide variety of industries:
- The catalysts added to base compounds create chemical bonds at a molecular level, making thermoset plastic very strong
- Thermoset materials insulate well against electricity and heat, making them well suited for the electrical, electronics, and appliance industries
- Thermoset-molded plastic resists corrosion and retains its mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, increasing its durability and reducing the risk of shrinkage over time
- Manufacturers can maintain tighter tolerances with thermoset molding processes than with thermoplastics
- Thermoset materials have high impact strengths
- Thermoset molding costs less than thermoplastic materials, and thermoset composites compete with aluminum extrusions, as well as stamped or formed parts and other machined components
Thermoset Plastic Applications
Thermoset plastic makes up a broad spectrum of machinery, appliances, furniture, and many other items in the following industries:
- Aerospace: Thermoset molded internal components used within the cabins of civilian, commercial, and military aircraft.
- Appliances: Thermoset composites make up motor housings, control panels, appliance handles, doorknobs, and external vent and side trims
- Automotive: Thermoset molding provides lightweight materials for use in automotive manufacturing, and high-end vehicle manufacturers use carbon fiber composites to provide an enhanced finish
- Chemical: Corrosion-resistant thermoset plastic composites feature heavily in chemical processing plants that deal with low- and high-pH environments
- Civil engineering/infrastructure: Roads, bridges, buildings, pilings, and other structures incorporate composite infrastructure applications to ensure durable performance at economically viable costs
- Construction: Thermoset composites form doors, window frames, moldings, vanity sinks, and various other fixtures as well as plumbing and HVAC components
- Electrical and electronics: Thermoset molding builds microwave antennae, substation equipment, circuit breakers, metering boards, switchgear, and lighting.
- Food and beverage: Injection-molded thermoset plastic creates impermeable and sanitary mixing chambers for machine assemblies
- Marine: Thermoset plastics resist corrosion, making them useful for components exposed to saltwater in commercial, recreational, and military boating applications
- Medical and pharmaceutical: Thermoset plastics allow medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers to build lightweight, durable casings for complex equipment
- Oil and gas: Thermoset plastics’ corrosion-resistant properties and cost efficiency render them great for refinery and drilling components
- Prisons & Institutions: Thermoset composites appear in a range of indoor and outdoor seating and tabletop applications. Their superior strength provides longer life span than thermoplastic alternatives.
MCM Thermoset Solutions in Action
MCM Composites has completed projects for many different industries. Examples of our work include:
- Thermoset compression-molded emergency oxygen housing for use in airplanes. Made from a special sheet-molded compound (SMC) that meets both EASA and FAA smoke and toxicity requirements, the housing also complies with ISO 9001:2000 standards. MCM Composites produced 500 units in two weeks.
- Thermoset injection-molded oven handles. Measuring 30 × 1.5 × 1 in, these handles have simple ergonomic designs and smooth finishes. We created more than 375,000 handles in less than a week.
- Thermoset injection-molded housing for electrical components. We built the housing moldings with multiple inserts for easy access and completed 3,000 units in less than two weeks.
- Thermoset injection-molded assembly for the food and beverage industry. We used a 500-ton injection press to create a 12 × 12 × 16–in blender. Previous versions of the blender used stainless steel mixing chambers, but we replaced this material with lighter and more affordable thermoset plastics. Every two weeks, we ship 3,000 blenders to this client.
- Thermoset compression-molded chairlift for the medical industry. We made this lift using high-strength SMC materials to support patients with limited mobility. We deflashed and deburred all chair parts and then drilled fastener holes with automated machines.
- Thermoset compression-molded table and chair tops for institutional applications. We built 13-in-diameter BMC polyester chair tops for outdoor use in custom-colored compounds. We produced more than 6,000 units in four weeks.