Routine maintenance and repair is a critical part of any manufacturing facility’s responsibilities, as engineers need to make sure that machines are running smoothly and are not in a position to have any near-term issues. Manufacturing managers schedule routine maintenance to ensure that they can execute their production schedules as well. Included in maintenance and repair is particularly for injection molding screws, is cleaning. Cleaning these screws helps preserve the health of the machine and its efficiency.
An injection molding machine uses a screw to push the molding material into the mold. It needs to be precise and insert the exact amount of liquid material into the mold; otherwise, there is a risk of product failure or creating a defect. Thus, cleaning an injection molding screw is essential to maintain the machine’s efficiency and to prevent it from breaking down due to build-up interfering with the normal movements.
There are two major ways to clean an injection molding screw, both of which we will cover in this article. The type of cleaning method that is most optimal can depend on a host of factors, including cost, manpower, and type of liquid mold being used, leaving the decision up to maintenance staff and managers.
The simpler of the two cleaning methods is using a purging solution to clear out any debris or residue that has built up on the threads of the screw. Purging solutions are excellent ways to clean screws because they can get into all the nooks and crannies of a screw and its threading. They additionally do not require much manpower, as all it takes is a technician to deposit the purging solution into machines and until it is thoroughly cleaned.
Technicians will feed the injection molding machine with a purging solution and run the machine normally. They will be able to see the colored residue from previous batches exit the machine to know that it is working properly. They will continue this process until no residue is found in the output. If time is of the essence, and manpower is low, purging solutions are a superior choice.
The other method to clean injection molding screws is to remove the screw and clean it manually. This process is more labor-intensive and requires a few specialized maintenance staff to perform. First, a staff member needs to properly disassemble the machine enough to where the screw can be removed. Next, another staff member needs to remove the screw and use a solution to clean it by hand.
While the effects of cleaning an injection molding screw manually are similar to using a purging solution, there are few benefits that counter the increased manpower and time needed to clean. The first is that cleaning manually reduces the risk of damaging the machine when using a purging solution. Injection molding machines are made with expert precision and may have a reaction with some heavy-duty purging solutions.
The second benefit is that it is much cheaper to clean using a simple solution and elbow grease rather than pump expensive purging compounds into the machine over and over.