The future of plastics is strong — but not without
its share of uncertainties. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), worldwide plastic production will continue to rise over the next two decades, from 350 metric tons in 2018 to 540 million in 2040.
However, these energetic growth forecasts are tempered by an increasing focus on environmental concerns about plastic waste and the best ways to optimize the use of recyclable materials. McKinsey & Company, for example, estimates that by 2030, as much as half of all plastics production could use recyclable materials, given enough institutional and consumer support.
With this emphasis on environmental issues sure to continue into the future, plastic manufacturing companies need to take a proactive stance, helping achieve these objectives across the plastics supply chain and beyond. From molders on the factory floor to brand owners in the boardroom, everyone in the eco system must play a part in securing the place of plastics in a circular economy that prioritizes reuse and sustainability.
This is the fourth article in a series exploring how iMFLUX technology is a trailblazer for the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of injection molding. Below, we’ll describe how their revolutionary low-constant-pressure injection molding platform is helping shape the future of plastics across the eco system.
Industry Focused Education
The American Injection Molding (AIM) Institute is a world leader in providing education and training in the field of plastics injection molding. Founded in 2014, the AIM Institute offers several certification programs to engineers, technicians, and managers, including certificates in Plastics Technology and Engineering and Injection Molding.
Since 2018, iMFLUX has partnered with the AIM Institute to offer two levels of training in low-constant-pressure injection molding: Introduction to iMFLUX and Applied iMFLUX Processing. The former course focuses on basics, such as iMFLUX control parameters, how this technology differs from conventional approaches, and some of the applications of iMFLUX systems. The latter course is intended for students who need to utilize low-constant-pressure injection molding technology in their daily operations.
iMFLUX is excited to play an active role in preparing professionals for careers in the plastic injection molding field and making them aware of the sustainability opportunities when you rethink the process. The work that AIM and iMFLUX are undertaking in plastics injection molding training and education will have a powerful impact in the industry for decades to come.
Broadening Student Knowledge & Contribution at University Level
iMFLUX collaborates with multiple universities throughout the US to ensure students have the opportunity to learn the low-constant-pressure process and methodology. To accomplish this the iMFLUX technology has been installed on presses in university laboratories: Shawnee State University, Pittsburg State University, Penn State Behrend, Ferris State University and University of Massachusetts Lowell. iMFLUX personnel have also helped to develop lab curriculum for students to fully explore what the iMFLUX software package has to offer.
Through these partnerships, iMFLUX has the opportunity to partner in research programs as well. iMFLUX is currently collaborating with researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, who have received a $1.8M grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop recyclable plastics and sustainable manufacturing technologies. The initiative is funded by the REMADE Institute, a national research consortium created by the DOE with the mission of building a “circular economy” that reuses and recycles materials as much as possible.
Specifically, the UMass Lowell research project will focus on plastic film, which is usually disposed of in landfills instead of being recycled. UMass Lowell professors Davide Masato and Margaret Sobkowicz-Kline, both in the Plastics Engineering Department, are heading the initiative.
iMFLUX is acting as an industry partner for this initiative, helping develop innovative technologies for plastics processing. In addition, iMFLUX engineers will work closely with UMass Lowell engineering students throughout the project’s life cycle.
Being Recognized By Awards
The Edison Awards is an annual competition celebrating innovations in business technology across a wide range of categories — from robotics and cybersecurity to medicine and logistics. A panel of judges from business, science, and academia selects the list of winning projects based on criteria such as their creativity, societal impact, and business acumen. In 2022, iMFLUX received a bronze Edison Award for developing the Auto Viscosity Adjust™ (AVA) feature of their technology for low-constant-pressure injection molding.
Conventional molding can suffer from issues with shifts in material viscosity, and so molders are forced to “babysit the press” and spend significant time making various adjustments to the static process of the conventional 3 phase process, based on their own individual skill and experience. Low-constant-pressure injection molding, on the other hand, is an adaptive process that adjusts based on what the melt pressure at the point of injection is reading. This puts the material and mold in control (dynamic) vs. the machine (static).
This low-constant-pressure approach offers a number of advantages, including:
- Unlocking novel part designs and enabling manufacturers to reduce product weight.
- Opening the door to greater use of sustainable materials such as recycled and bio-derived resins.
- A consistent higher-quality final product with fewer manufacturing errors.
- Shorter cycles (10 to 15 percent) and reduced energy consumption (10-30 percent or more).
iMFLUX was pleased to accept a 2022 Edison Award in the category of Plastic Upcycling as recognition for our work as a trailblazer in the plastics industry.
As the plastics industry grows to focus more on environmental and sustainability issues, iMFLUX is prepared for whatever comes next. From cutting-edge research to renowned awards, we look forward to continuing to blaze trails through both academia and industry within the space of plastics manufacturing.
Want to learn how low-constant-pressure injection molding can help you become more productive, efficient, and sustainable? Get in touch with our team today to talk about your business needs and objectives. You can also follow our blog for all the latest news and updates about iMFLUX’s revolutionary technology.