Near net shape technology developed for PEEK/PAI; results in materials savings


US-based Piper Plastics, a provider of polymer materials and precision machined plastic components and assemblies, has developed a proprietary high pressure moulding technology that is said to yield near net shape polymers up to 2” thick without porosity, voids or sinks.

The process, which utilises moulding equipment designed and developed by Piper Plastics, allows the company to mould high performance thermoplastics, filled or unfilled, with isotropic mechanical properties. “This capability is especially beneficial for large CNC machined parts that were historically limited to extruded or compression moulded stock shapes,” explained Dave Wilkinson, Materials Engineering Manager, Piper Plastics. “In comparison to extrusion and compression moulding, this new process yields parts that have higher strength - typically 15-20% stronger than extruded shapes, and 50% stronger than compression moulded shapes - plus more consistent mechanical properties.”

A major reason for developing the new technology was to save costs when machining finished parts from expensive high performance materials such as PEEK, PAI or TPI. “The moulds are inexpensive since we are only moulding a near net shape that will be machined after molding,” said Bruce White, Vice President, Piper Plastics. “Because it’s close to the final part, a near net shape requires less machining. Less machining means less waste - which is an important consideration for green and sustainable programs.”

The technology also allows Piper to offer small batch runs for mating the right polymer or blend for an application. “Distributors typically only carry about 50 types of engineering plastics but with this technology we can mould custom blanks from over 3,000 polymers and compounds, or develop a compound specifically for an application,” said White.

The process is suitable for larger parts and weights of up to 6 lbs per blank with large and varying wall thicknesses and complex geometries. “Near net shape is effective for parts that cannot be produced using standard injection moulding because the cross sectional area is too thick,” said Wilkinson. “This new technology has opened up exciting opportunities in the semiconductor, oil and gas, medical equipment, and aerospace markets.”

As a subsidiary of Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products, Piper near net shapes are now also available from all authorised Quadrant distributors.


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