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ABS Plastic Injection Molding: Process, Cost, and Temperature

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a popular thermoplastic polymer known for its toughness, impact resistance, and versatility. ABS plastic injection molding is a widely used manufacturing process in industries such as automotive, electronics, and consumer goods.

This article provides an in-depth look at the ABS plastic injection molding process, cost considerations, temperature requirements, and the machinery involved.

ABS Plastic Injection Molding

What is ABS Injection Molding?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) injection molding is a manufacturing process used to produce parts and products from ABS thermoplastic material. ABS is a popular polymer known for its excellent mechanical properties, including toughness, impact resistance, and ease of processing. Injection molding is a versatile technique that involves injecting molten plastic into a mold to create complex shapes with high precision. Here’s a detailed look at the ABS injection molding process.

ABS Plastic Injection Molding Process

1. Material Preparation

Before the injection molding process begins, ABS pellets must be thoroughly dried to remove any moisture. Moisture in the pellets can lead to injection molding defects such as splay marks or bubbles in the final product. Typically, ABS pellets are dried at 80-90°C (176-194°F) for 2-4 hours in a desiccant dryer.

2. Injection Molding Machine Setup

The injection molding machine comprises several key components: the injection unit, clamping unit, and mold. The machine settings must be precisely calibrated for ABS to ensure optimal results.

  • Injection Unit: The injection unit is responsible for melting the ABS pellets and injecting the molten material into the mold. Key settings include barrel temperature, screw speed, and injection pressure.
  • Clamping Unit: The clamping unit holds the mold in place and provides the necessary force to keep it closed during injection and cooling. The clamping force must be sufficient to counteract the injection pressure.
  • Mold: The mold is custom-designed for the specific part being produced. It consists of two halves – the cavity and the core – which form the shape of the final product. The mold also includes cooling channels to help solidify the molten ABS.

3. Melting and Injection

The dried ABS pellets are fed into the hopper of the injection unit, where they are conveyed by the rotating screw towards the heated barrel. The barrel temperature is typically set between 210-250°C (410-482°F), depending on the grade of ABS being used. As the pellets melt, the screw accumulates a shot of molten ABS at the front of the barrel.

Once the shot is prepared, the injection phase begins. The screw moves forward, injecting the molten ABS into the mold cavity at high pressure (10,000-20,000 psi). The injection speed and pressure are critical parameters that affect the quality and consistency of the molded part.

4. Cooling and Solidification

After the mold cavity is filled, the molten ABS must cool and solidify. The cooling process is facilitated by the mold’s built-in cooling channels, which circulate water or other cooling fluids. The cooling time depends on the part’s thickness and geometry, but it typically ranges from 20-60 seconds.

5. Ejection

Once the part has solidified, the mold opens, and ejector pins push the finished part out of the mold. The cycle then repeats for the next part.

ABS Material Properties

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a widely used thermoplastic polymer known for its excellent balance of mechanical properties, ease of processing, and affordability. Here are the key properties of ABS:

ropertyPolylac® (PA-765)Cycolac™ (MG47)Lustran® (348)RTP (605) 30% GFTypical ABS with Glass Beads
Density (g/cm3)
Shrinkage Rate (%)0.3–0.60.5–0.80.4–0.60.1–0.24.0e-3 to 7.0e-3 inches
Rockwell Hardness (R)100112112
Water Absorption (24 hr., 73 °F)0.16 to 0.25%
Tensile Modulus (73 °F)3,200 to 500 kpsi
Tensile Strength at Yield (MPa)394448.396.5
Elongation at Break (%)10241–22.0 to 10%
Flexural Modulus (GPa)1.802.302.698.27348 to 426 kpsi
Flexural Strength (MPa)557075.81347,150 to 9,100 psi
Drying Temperature (°C)87.8–93.380–957982.2176 to 180 °F
Drying Time (hrs)2–242–42–422.0 to 9.0 hr.
Melt Temperature (°C)232–249220–260246–274204–238410 to 500 °F
Mold Temperature (°C)54.4–71.150–7029–6062.8–85113 to 175 °F

Applications of ABS Injection Molding

ABS injection molding is widely used across various industries, including:

  1. Automotive: Manufacturing interior and exterior automotive parts such as dashboards, panels, and trim components.
  2. Electronics: Producing housings, enclosures, and components for consumer electronics, including computers, TVs, and mobile devices.
  3. Consumer Goods: Creating durable and aesthetically pleasing products such as toys, kitchen appliances, and sporting goods.
  4. Industrial Equipment: Making parts for machinery, tools, and equipment used in various industrial applications.
  5. Medical Devices: Producing components for medical instruments and devices that require high precision and durability.

Which Products are Suitable for ABS Injection Molding?

Here are some examples of parts commonly produced using ABS injection molding:

  • Dashboard components
  • Interior trim panels
  • Door handles and trim
  • Bumpers and grilles
  • HVAC system parts
  • Audio equipment housings
  • Furniture components
  • Equipment housings
  • Laboratory instrument components
  • Device enclosures and covers
  • LegoⓇ bricks and components

Why is ABS Used in Injection Molding?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is widely used in injection molding due to its unique combination of mechanical properties, ease of processing, and versatility.

  • Mechanical Strength and Toughness: ABS is known for its excellent impact resistance and toughness. It can withstand significant mechanical stress without cracking or breaking, making it ideal for applications requiring durability and robustness.
  • Good Chemical Resistance:ABS offers good resistance to a wide range of chemicals, including acids, alkalis, and oils. This makes it suitable for use in environments where exposure to such substances is common.
  • Thermal Stability: ABS has a relatively high heat resistance compared to other thermoplastics. It can maintain its properties over a wide temperature range, which is essential for parts that are exposed to varying thermal conditions.
  • Aesthetic Qualities:ABS can achieve a high-quality surface finish, which is important for consumer-facing products. It can be easily colored, painted, or plated, allowing for a wide range of aesthetic finishes.
  • Ease of Processing:ABS melts and flows easily during the injection molding process, allowing it to fill molds completely and form complex shapes with fine details. This ease of processing reduces cycle times and increases production efficiency.
abs injection molding

What is the Cost of ABS Injection Molding?

The cost of ABS plastic injection molding can be broken down into several components:

1. Material Cost

ABS is generally more expensive than commodity plastics like polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE). The cost of ABS pellets varies based on the grade and supplier, typically ranging from $1.50 to $2.50 per kilogram.

2. Mold Cost

The mold is a significant upfront investment, especially for complex or high-precision parts. Mold costs can range from $5,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the size, complexity, and material (e.g., steel or aluminum mold). Multi-cavity molds, which produce multiple parts per cycle, are more expensive but can reduce per-part costs in high-volume production.

3. Machine and Labor Costs

Operating an injection molding machine involves costs for machine time, labor, and maintenance. Machine costs depend on the size and type of the machine, typically ranging from $50 to $200 per hour. Labor costs vary based on the location and skill level of the operators.

4. Overhead Costs

Overhead costs include utilities, facility expenses, and administrative costs. These are typically allocated based on machine hours or part volume.

5. Production Volume

The total cost per part decreases as production volume increases due to the amortization of mold costs over a larger number of parts. High-volume production runs are more cost-effective for ABS injection molding.

ABS Injection Molding Techniques

To optimize the production of ABS parts, various specialized injection molding techniques are employed.

1. Thin-Walled Parts

Producing thin-walled parts with ABS can be challenging due to its relatively high viscosity. Here are some considerations for molding thin-walled ABS parts:

  • Increased Injection Pressure: To ensure complete mold filling, the injection pressure must be increased. ABS’s viscosity decreases with rising temperature until it reaches its plasticizing temperature; beyond this point, viscosity increases again with higher temperatures. Therefore, increasing pressure rather than temperature is the preferred approach.
  • Mold Design: Molds for thin-walled parts must be designed to handle high injection pressures. This includes reinforcing the mold structure and optimizing the gating system to ensure uniform material flow and minimize potential defects.

2. Large Hollow Parts

Manufacturing large, thin, or hollow parts using standard injection molding can be difficult. Advanced techniques like water-assisted or gas-assisted injection molding are used to overcome these challenges:

  • Water-Assisted Injection Molding: High-pressure water is injected into the mold to press the molten ABS against the mold walls. This technique helps in achieving uniform wall thickness and smooth internal surfaces.
  • Gas-Assisted Injection Molding: Similar to water-assisted molding, high-pressure gas (typically nitrogen) is used to create hollow sections and ensure consistent wall thickness. This technique is particularly useful for reducing part weight and material usage while maintaining structural integrity.

3. Thick-Walled Parts

Thick-walled ABS parts can suffer from defects such as sink marks due to uneven cooling and material shrinkage. Several techniques are used to address these issues:

  • Compression Injection Molding: This method involves depositing a precise amount of molten ABS into a mold and then applying compression to shape the final part. This approach minimizes internal stresses and reduces the likelihood of sink marks.
  • Optimized Mold Design: Designing molds with thinner or more uniform wall thicknesses and incorporating enhanced thermal transfer capabilities can help manage sink marks. Improved cooling channels and heat sinks within the mold can also ensure uniform cooling and reduce defects.

4. Multi-Material Components

For applications requiring multi-material components, techniques such as insert molding and overmolding are used. ABS’s versatility makes it suitable for these advanced molding processes:

  • Insert Molding: This technique involves placing a pre-formed insert (made of metal, plastic, or another material) into the mold before injecting ABS. The molten ABS flows around the insert, encapsulating it and forming a single, integrated part.
  • Overmolding: Overmolding involves molding a layer of ABS over a previously molded part, often made from a different material. This is commonly used in the production of ergonomic handles for tools and consumer products, where ABS is overmolded with a softer material to improve grip and comfort.

5. Micro-Injection Molding

Micro-injection molding is used to produce very small ABS parts with high precision. This technique requires specialized micro-injection molding machines capable of handling tiny amounts of material and producing intricate details.

  • Applications: Micro-injection molding is used in medical devices, electronics, and other industries where small, precise components are essential.
  • Challenges: Achieving uniform material flow and maintaining dimensional accuracy at such small scales require precise control over process parameters and high-quality molds.

6. Hot Runner Systems

Hot runner systems are used to improve the efficiency of ABS injection molding by reducing material waste and cycle times.

  • Advantages: Hot runner systems keep the plastic in a molten state within the mold, eliminating the need for sprues and runners. This results in faster cycle times, reduced material waste, and improved part quality.
  • Considerations: Hot runner systems are more complex and expensive than cold runner systems, requiring careful design and maintenance.

By understanding and utilizing these techniques, manufacturers can optimize the production of ABS parts, achieving high quality, cost-effective, and reliable components for a wide range of industries. Or collaborate with professional plastic injection molding service providers like BOYI to optimize your part design.

How to Set the Temperature for ABS Injection Molding?

Proper temperature control is crucial for successful ABS injection molding. Key temperature parameters include:

1. Barrel Temperature

The barrel temperature should be set between 210-250°C (410-482°F), depending on the ABS grade and desired melt viscosity. Uniform heating is essential to ensure consistent melt quality and prevent degradation.

2. Mold Temperature

The mold temperature typically ranges from 50-80°C (122-176°F). Higher mold temperatures can improve part surface finish and reduce residual stresses, but they also increase cycle time. Mold temperature should be carefully controlled to balance part quality and production efficiency.

3. Nozzle Temperature

The nozzle temperature should be slightly lower than the barrel temperature to prevent drooling and ensure smooth flow into the mold. A typical nozzle temperature for ABS is around 200-230°C (392-446°F).

Advantages and Disadvantages of ABS Injection Molding

ABS injection molding offers numerous advantages in terms of productivity, design flexibility, and mechanical properties. However, potential drawbacks such as high tooling costs, design limitations, and environmental considerations must be carefully managed.

Advantages Disadvantages
Highly efficient and productive manufacturing technologyRequires design and manufacture of molds, which are costly and time-consuming
Minimal waste productionInitial investment in tooling can be prohibitive for low-volume production
Large volumes of parts can be produced with minimal human interactionComplex part designs may require longer lead times and higher costs
Ability to produce complex, multi-featured componentsInjection molding design rules restrict part geometry and features
Incorporation of metal inserts or overmolded componentsWall thickness, rib placement, and hole size/location must adhere to strict guidelines
ABS provides good mechanical strength and durabilityMinimum quantity requirements to justify tooling costs can make small runs expensive
Suitable for applications requiring robust mechanical propertiesEconomical feasibility heavily dependent on anticipated production volumes
Capability for post-processing treatments like painting and platingEnvironmental degradation due to UV exposure can affect material integrity

What Are the Common Problems in ABS Injection Molding?

In ABS injection molding, several common problems can arise during the manufacturing process. These issues can affect the quality and consistency of molded parts. Here are some of the typical problems encountered:

  1. Warping and Dimensional Instability:ABS is prone to warping and dimensional instability due to its high shrinkage rate during cooling. Uneven cooling or insufficient mold temperature control can exacerbate this issue.
  2. Sink Marks:Sink marks appear as depressions on the surface of the molded part, typically occurring in thicker sections where cooling is slower. This problem arises from uneven cooling rates or inadequate venting in the mold.
  3. Surface Imperfections:Surface defects like flow marks, streaks, or bubbles can occur due to improper injection pressure, temperature variations, or poor mold surface finish.
  4. Molded-In Stress and Cracking:ABS can develop internal stresses during molding, leading to part cracking or brittleness. This issue often results from inadequate cooling time or improper ejection from the mold.
  5. Poor Gate Design or Location:Gate design and placement affect material flow and part quality. Improper gate location can cause cosmetic defects or weak points in the molded part.
  6. Color Dispersion Issues:ABS’s ability to accept a wide range of colors makes it susceptible to color dispersion problems. Inconsistent color distribution or streaks can occur due to improper mixing or inadequate melt temperature control.
  7. Material Degradation:ABS is sensitive to overheating, which can lead to material degradation, discoloration, or reduced mechanical properties. Proper melt temperature control is crucial to prevent these issues.
  8. Injection Pressure and Speed Variations:Fluctuations in injection pressure or speed can result in incomplete filling of the mold cavity, causing short shots or voids in the part.
  9. Part Ejection Problems:Difficulty in ejecting parts from the mold can lead to damage or deformation, especially in complex geometries or undercuts.

Addressing these common problems requires careful process control, including optimized mold design, precise temperature management, and adherence to recommended injection molding parameters specific to ABS materials.

Tips for ABS Injection Molding Design

ABS plastic injection molding involves several critical design considerations to ensure optimal part quality and manufacturability. Here are some injection molding design guidelines:

  • Wall Thickness: Maintaining consistent wall thickness is critical in ABS plastic injection molding to ensure uniform cooling and minimize defects such as warping and sink marks. The recommended range is typically between 0.045 to 0.140 inches (1.14 to 3.56 mm).
  • Draft Angle: Integrating draft angles of approximately 0.5 to 1 degree facilitates smooth ejection of parts from the mold. This angle prevents the part from sticking to the mold surface during release, minimizing potential damage and ensuring consistent part quality.
  • Part Tolerances: Precision in part tolerances is crucial for functional integrity and assembly compatibility. ABS parts typically adhere to commercial tolerances ranging from 0.1 to 0.325 mm for dimensions under 160 mm. Achieving finer tolerances of 0.050 to 0.1 mm is feasible for smaller components up to 100 mm.
  • Radii: ABS is sensitive to stress concentrations, especially at sharp corners. Designing with generous radii helps distribute stresses more evenly, enhancing part durability and reducing the likelihood of failure. It’s advisable to maintain a minimum radius that is at least 25% of the wall thickness. For applications requiring maximum strength, a radius up to 60% of the wall thickness is recommended.

What Factors Should be Considered in ABA Processing?

ABS material processing considerations for injection molding:

  1. Viscosity: ABS viscosity increases if melted beyond its plasticizing temperature, affecting moldability. Unlike some plastics, ABS viscosity rises post-plasticization.
  2. Moisture: ABS absorbs moisture, requiring thorough drying before processing to prevent defects like cloudiness or bubbles in molded parts.
  3. Temperature Control: Overheating ABS can lead to thermal decomposition, visible as brown or burn marks on parts. Proper mold and melt temperatures are crucial.
  4. Injection Pressure: ABS typically requires higher injection pressures due to its viscosity. Incorrect pressure can affect part removal and quality.
  5. Injection Speed: Proper injection speed prevents defects such as burn marks or poor finishes. Too slow speed may result in incomplete mold filling.
  6. Shrinkage: ABS experiences shrinkage rates of 0.1% to 0.8% during cooling, affecting dimensional accuracy. Mold design and process parameters influence shrinkage.

These factors must be carefully managed during ABS injection molding to ensure high-quality, dimensionally accurate parts without defects.

Your ABS Injection Molding Service Partner – BOYI

At BOYI, we specialize in delivering high-quality ABS plastic injection molding solutions tailored to meet your exact specifications. With state-of-the-art technology and a commitment to excellence, we ensure precision in every part we manufacture.

Partner with BOYI for your ABS injection molding needs and experience reliability and precision like never before. Contact us today to discuss your project requirements and discover how we can bring your ideas to life with excellence in every detail.



What Material is Used for Injection Molding?

Injection molding can use a wide variety of materials, including metals, plastics, ceramics, and even glass. Each material has specific properties that make it suitable for different applications, ranging from automotive parts and medical devices to consumer goods and electronics.

Is ABS Plastic Strong?

It offers good impact resistance and stiffness, making it suitable for projects requiring robust performance. ABS can withstand a range of temperatures and humidity levels, and it can be easily machined, painted, or glued, making it ideal for secondary processing. Injection molding ABS at different temperatures can adjust its properties: higher temperatures enhance heat resistance and surface finish, while lower temperatures improve strength and impact resistance.

Catalog: Injection Molding Guide

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