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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

APSX Bringing Injection Molding To The Desktop

 
February 23rd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

It wasn’t all that long ago that manufacturing machines, such as 3D printers and CNC mills were relegated to the factory floor because of their size and tendency to need or produce undesirable compounds, such as coolants, smoke, chips, solvents, etc. Today, however, there are a number of desktop 3D printers and milling machines available. Until relatively recently, though, one of the major manufacturing processes that hadn’t appeared on the desktop was injection molding. That’s about to change with the advent of the APSX-PIM desktop plastic molding machine from Advanced Production Systems (APSX).

Injection molding machines are known for being large and expensive machines that require significant infrastructure, steep learning curve, and high maintenance. For these and other reasons most individual makers and small businesses don’t have access to an injection molding machine, so APSX decided to make one that could be used by organizations with budget and space constraints.

Controlled from a 10″ touch screen tablet control panel, the APSX-PIM works by compressing a spring to create the injection pressure, and injecting the melted plastic material into an aluminum mold. This small plastic injection molding machine is easy to setup and operates as fully automatic (fedd/inject/eject) with sensors and electronic temperature control with no need for a water supply for cooling.

According to the company, the APSX-PIM can cost less than typical conventional molds. That brings up the issue of cost. The company is nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign for scaling up production capacity. If the campaign is successful, the cost of the APSX-PIM could be under $10,000. If the campaign is not successful, price for the machine will be $12,500.

The APSX-PIM Plastic Injection Molding Machine

The PIM was entirely designed by APSX using Autodesk’s Fusion 360 and Geomagic Design and is being manufactured in Cincinnati, OH.

Specs on the APSX-PIM include:

  • Piston Dia [in]: 1
  • Injection Volume [cu-in]: 1.83
  • Injection Pressure [PSI]: 5000
  • Clamping Force [lbs]: 15000
  • Opening Stroke [in]: 6
  • Ejector Stroke [in]: 3
  • Weight [lbs]: 250
  • Max Mold Size [in]: 4.8 (W) X 6.0 (H)
  • Min Mold Height [in]: 4
  • Machine Dimensions [in]: 43 (L) X 12 (W) X 15 (H)
  • Max Processing temp [F]: 600
  • Power Supply [V]: 115
  • Heating Power [W]: 1200
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Plastic Materials for Injection: HDPE, PP, TPO, PS, ABS, or any other plastic material with a melt flow rate greater than 15 g/10 minutes.

APSX-PIM Machine Layout (All Dimensions In Inches)

As with any injection molding machine, the APSX-PIM must be vented to dissipate hot plastic fumes and prevent them from accumulating.

Orders for the patent-pending machine are being taken today from the company’s website and delivery is approximately four weeks, as the company is in the process of building several machines.

Who could benefit from this machine? APSX claims that CNC machinists, product design studios, high-tech medical equipment manufacturers, mold manufacturers, injection molders, engineering and technical schools, and DIY hobbyists could benefit.

APSX-PIM Desktop Plastic Injection Molding Machine

Beside the machine itself, APSX also sells raw plastic pellets and blank mold bases for it, as well as providing mold-making services.

If you’re really in a hurry, and don’t have the luxury of time for machining an aluminum mold, you can 3D print a mold with high temperature resin to withstand the molding temperatures (>/= 240 C) and use as in insert in the APSX blank mold for injection molding purposes. Admittedly, the lifespan for 3D printed molds not very long. Typically, you can get about 10 good parts out of a 3D printed mold, but the short lead time for seeing a design result could be a big benefit.

So, will the APSX-PIM be a game changer? I’m not sure, but it will bring the injection molding process at a scale and price that should interest customers who want and need parts that behave more like real production parts when compared with parts created by other additive processes.

For more information: APSX-PIM

Chuck Hull, 3D Printing Inventor, Accepts Prestigious Washington Award

Charles (Chuck) Hull, the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of 3D Systems, was honored this week during Engineers Week with the Washington Award by the Western Society of Engineers. Hull will become the 98th recipient of the award for his invention of 3D printing over 30 years ago, as well as continued work in the industry since then.

The Washington Award is conferred upon an engineer whose professional attainments have significantly and positively impacted humankind.

In many circles, Hull is known as the “father of 3-D printing” for his invention of the 3-D printing process known as stereolithography, a term Hull coined and patented in 1986.

Chuck Hull, Co-founder of 3D Systems and Recipient of 2017 Washington Award

Co-founding 3D Systems in 1986, Hull was instrumental in creating the 3D printing industry three years earlier with his solid imaging process that came to be known as stereolithography. The first working Stereolithography machine, the “SLA-1” successfully printed a part in March 1983.

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