Reaction injection molding (RIM) is an advantageous manufacturing process for a wide variety of different industries. One of the many industries that are well-positioned to take advantage of the capabilities that reaction injection molding has to offer is the field of laboratory and scientific equipment design. From production volume to part size, laboratory and scientific equipment check off a lot of the boxes that represent the strengths of reaction injection molding. Below, we will highlight some of the main RIM applications for laboratory and scientific equipment.
One of the many reasons why reaction injection molding is an ideal production method for laboratory and scientific equipment pertains to the volume in which such equipment is typically created. Laboratory and scientific equipment generally run in lower annual volumes. In other words, they aren’t consumer products and millions of units aren’t produced each year. Instead, they run in a few thousands per year. Because reaction injection molding is an ideal manufacturing method for products that are in the few thousands, laboratory and scientific equipment production is very well-suited to RIM.
In addition to being perfectly suited to the target production quantity of laboratory and scientific equipment, reaction injection molding is also suited to creating products that are the intended size of such equipment. Reaction injection molding is generally ideal for creating products that are larger than the phone on one’s desk and smaller than a CAT scan machine. As such, laboratory and scientific equipment generally tends to be the right size for RIM manufacturing.
Creating the tooling for large complex medical devices is often one of the most expensive aspects of production for molded parts. Fortunately, reaction injection molding offers far lower tooling costs than virtually any other production method for large parts that must be produced in smaller volumes. Rather than using expensive steel tooling like injection molding, reaction injection molding utilizes lower-cost aluminum tooling. RIM can use aluminum tooling rather than steel tooling because the process doesn’t involve extremely high temperatures and pressures. As such, the tooling doesn’t need to be as durable as other manufacturing methods in order to work efficiently.
While the price to create each part may be higher for RIM than other methods such as injection molding, the substantially lower tool cost greatly offsets production expenses. To put the tooling cost vs. production cost into perspective, purchasing a steel tool for a large part can cost up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you are only using that tool to produce a relatively small amount of parts, the lower production cost won’t get anywhere near to paying off the exorbitant tool price. As such, RIM is generally the most economical production method for most types of laboratory and scientific equipment which are large and produced in smaller quantities.
Design freedom is another key benefit of using reaction injection molding to design laboratory and scientific equipment. When creating equipment that is used in highly technical applications, it is important to create a product that has an exterior that appropriately reflects the sophistication of its internal technological components.
Reaction injection molding helps create visually appealing parts by offering an unmatched level of design freedom. Unlike many other part production methods, reaction injection molding allows manufacturers to create parts with varying thicknesses, curves, and encapsulated items. As a result, the parts created with RIM can be designed to have aesthetic appearances that appropriately reflect their capabilities.
ENCAPSULATION OF ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS
Unlike other part manufacturing methods, reaction injection molding provides the unique opportunity to encapsulate items into parts. Encapsulation refers to enclosing an item in another material such as a resin. Due to the low temperatures, pressures, and viscosity that is required for RIM part production, encapsulation of even sensitive electronic components is possible without damaging or harming them in the process.
There are many benefits of encapsulating items in laboratory and scientific equipment. For example, encapsulating items can help protect them from harsh laboratory environments where chemicals, vibration, or extreme temperatures may be present. In addition, encapsulating items is also highly beneficial for preventing intellectual property theft which poses a huge risk for labs in the science industry. Because the technology is molded directly into the equipment, it is much less likely to become corrupted or be stolen.
Laboratories rely heavily on the accuracy of specialized equipment in order to complete their processes and conduct experiments. If even a minute quantity of a contaminant infiltrates the equipment, the results could become skewed. As such, it’s important for equipment to be cleaned regularly to reduce the presence of dirt, dust, and other pollutants as much as possible.
Reaction injection molded equipment is far easier to clean than equipment produced by many other processes because it allows manufacturers to mold parts together. Rather than consisting of a large number of parts that are fused together, RIM allows equipment to be designed with as few separate parts as possible. As a result, RIM parts have fewer parting lines where dirt and other contaminants can get trapped or infiltrate the machinery. The absence of these crevasses makes RIM equipment inherently more sanitary, as well as easier to clean.
Laboratory and scientific equipment is often one of the largest expenses that most labs incur. As such, it is important to create equipment that is durable enough to last for many years without breaking down despite potential exposure to harsh elements. Fortunately, RIM allows manufacturers to create equipment that satisfies this need for longevity.
Reaction injection molded parts are highly durable and are created with coatings that make them highly chemically resistant. In addition, RIM parts are also wear-resistant and dimensionally stable so that they can undergo substantial use without breaking down and causing costly downtime or the need to purchase expensive replacements.
Rimnetics is a leading reaction injection molding company for encapsulation, overmolding, enclosures, structural foam molding, and cosmetic housings. Over the past three decades, we have provided molded solutions® for a wide variety of industries including the laboratory equipment, medical device, electronic, construction, and IT industry. To learn more about our reaction injection molding services, contact us today.