From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A three-motor powered (tri-power) rotational-molding or spin-casting machine is often used in the rotational molding process.

Rotational Molding (BrE moulding) involves a heated hollow mold which is filled with a charge or shot weight of material. It is then slowly rotated (usually around two perpendicular axes), causing the softened material to disperse and stick to the walls of the mold. In order to maintain even thickness throughout the part, the mold continues to rotate at all times during the heating phase and to avoid sagging or deformation also during the cooling phase. The process was applied to plastics in the 1940s but in the early years was little used because it was a slow process restricted to a small number of plastics. Over the past two decades, improvements in process control and developments with plastic powders have resulted in a significant increase in usage.

Rotocasting (also known as rotacasting), by comparison, uses self-curing resins in an unheated mould, but shares slow rotational speeds in common with rotational molding. Spin casting should not be confused with either, utilizing self-curing resins or white metal in a high-speed centrifugal casting machine.

Production process

The rotational molding process is a high-temperature, low-pressure plastic-forming process that uses heat and biaxial rotation (i.e., angular rotation on two axes) to produce hollow, one-piece parts.  The process does have distinct advantages. Manufacturing large, hollow parts such as oil tanks is much easier by rotational molding than any other method. Rotational molds are significantly cheaper than other types of mold. Very little material is wasted using this process, and excess material can often be re-used, making it a very economically and environmentally viable manufacturing process.

Rotational Molding Process

The rotational molding process consists of four distinct phases:

Loading a measured quantity of polymer (usually in powder form) into the mold.

Heating the mold in an oven while it rotates, until all the polymer has melted and adhered to the mold wall. The hollow part should be rotated through two or more axes, rotating at different speeds, in order to avoid the accumulation of polymer powder. The length of time the mold spends in the oven is critical: too long and the polymer will degrade, reducing impact strength. If the mold spends too little time in the oven, the polymer melt may be incomplete. The polymer grains will not have time to fully melt and coalesce on the mold wall, resulting in large bubbles in the polymer. This has an adverse effect on the mechanical properties of the finished product.

Cooling the mold, usually by fan. This stage of the cycle can be quite lengthy. The polymer must be cooled so that it solidifies and can be handled safely by the operator. This typically takes tens of minutes. The part will shrink on cooling, coming away from the mold, and facilitating easy removal of the part. The cooling rate must be kept within a certain range. Very rapid cooling (for example, water spray) would result in cooling and shrinking at an uncontrolled rate, producing a warped part.

Removal of the part.

 

Advantages of Rotational Molding

  • Cost effective plastic parts for lower production runs
  • consistent wall thickness
  • stronger, stress free parts
  • Moulds are less expensive than other plastic processes
  • many options in design

 

 

 

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