Classic plastic army figures made with injection mold (Reference 1)

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1 Molding Plastic Last modified July 6, 2015 Abstract: Used plastic can be melted down and molded into a new shape. In this module we will look at different types of recyclable plastic and ways to mold them into different shapes. Classic plastic army figures made with injection mold (Reference 1) Safety: Melted plastics are hot! Always be cautious when handling hot equipment used to melt the plastic, which are polymers or large molecules made out of repeated subunits. Mold material may be irritating to the eye and skin so make sure to keep your hands away from eyes and mouth when using these materials, and washing your hands after use. Wear safety equipment such as gloves and eyeglasses. Knowing Material Properties: It s always good to have a general idea of how durable a material is, as well as the temperature at which the material breaks down (melting or degrading polymer would not be of much use!) Plastic Recycling: Plastics are carbon-based materials that are usually easy to deform and can be molded into solid objects of different shapes. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petroleum1, but many are also partially natural, derived from starch or cellulose Life cycle of a plastic product. Americanchemistry.com. Retrieved on National Non-Food Crops Centre. Biochemical Opportunities in the UK, NNFCC

2 Plastics must be of nearly identical composition to mix efficiently. When different types of plastics are melted together, they tend to phase-separate, like oil and water, and set in these layers. The phase boundaries cause structural weakness in the resulting material, meaning that mixes of different polymers are only useful in limited applications. Recycled plastic has many uses, such as fabrics, containers, tape, etc. Traditionally, fabrics made out of recycled PET (polyethylene therephtalate, used mainly for plastic bottles) are used to create strong, durable, rough, products, such as jackets, coat, shoes, bags, hats, and accessories since they are usually too rough for direct skin contact and can cause irritation. Listed below in the table specifies the most commonly found plastic polymers, their properties, common applications, temperature ranges describing when the plastic becomes deformable (T>Tg) and when the plastic melts (T>Tm), and their tensile (or elastic) modulus also known as Young s Modulus, which describes how much tension the material can experience before it deforms irreversibly. Type of plastic polymer Properties Common Packaging Applications Glass Transition and T M ( C) Young's Modulus (GPa) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Clarity, strength, barrier to gas and moisture. Soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles; peanut butter and jam jars; small consumer electronics. Tm = 250 Tg = High-density polyethylene (HDPE) Stiffness, strength, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas. Water pipes, five gallon buckets, milk, juice and water bottles; grocery bags, some shampoo/toiletry bottles. Tm = 130 Tg = Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Versatility, ease of blending, strength, toughness. Electrical cable insulation; rigid piping; vinyl records. Tm = 240 Tg = Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) Ease of processing, strength, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture. Frozen food bags; plastic bags for transporting food, squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard; cling films; flexible container lids. Tm = 120 Tg = Polypropylene (PP) Strength, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, Reusable microwaveable ware; kitchenware; yogurt containers; margarine tubs; microwaveable Tm = 173 Tg =

3 barrier to moisture. disposable take-away containers; Polystyrene (PS) Versatility, clarity, easily formed, ease of creating foams Egg cartons; packing peanuts; disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery; disposable take-away containers. Tm = 240 (only isotactic) Tg = 100 (atactic and isotactic) Making Molds: When making molds for plastic, it s important to pay attention to temperature: if melted plastic is poured onto a cold surface, it will cool down and consequently harden even before it fills up the mold. Moreover, the polymer chains become more susceptible to degrading every time the plastic is heated up above Tm (melting temperature) and therefore lower the overall quality of the plastic. This is why it is important to choose a mold material that can withstand heat and can easily be heated (this means that the material will need good heat conductivity, because the better the mold conducts heat, the faster it ll get hotter). While gypsum plaster is easy to make molds out of, it takes a lot of energy to heat up to desirable temperature. (Heat Conductivity: ~0.2 W/m*K) Metals generally heats up quickly, but sometimes creating a desirable mold is a challenge because it is difficult to shape and join. (Heat Conductivity: ~70 W/m*K) Questions to Consider Before Making Molds: 1. What mold material suits your needs? 2. What plastic are you thinking of recycling, and what are the temperature ranges at which you need to melt (see Tm and Tg)? 3. Will your recycled plastic be tough enough to be used for your need? Plaster Mold The easiest way to make a mold is to use plaster. While it has poor heat conductivity, it is very malleable in its unhardened state and can withstand high heat. This means that if you have a casting object, such as a seashell (seen below), you can easily make Materials Casting object Plaster of Paris Clay, or any other material with the same consistency Soap (to act as mold release) Water

4 Plastic box to put the clay/plaster Paper plate, or anything to serve as an overspill guard Methods 1. Fill up about half of the plastic box with clay and pack it down. 2. Take your object and press it so it s about halfway in the clay. 3. Make sure to make a hole on the top where you can pour in the molten material. This can be done by placing a 2 cm diameter cylinder immediately on top of the casting object. 4. Make indentations on the clay so that the two part cast can be aligned more easily. See below for a reference image: 5. Put soap all over the casting object: this would allow for the object to be easily removed from the cast once the plaster is hardened.

5 6. Make the plaster mix, making sure that it s evenly mixed. This will decrease the chance of the mold having any air bubbles. Pour in the first half of the plaster starting from the sides so that it naturally fills over the object this will further decrease the chance of having any air bubbles. Finally, wait until it s hardened. 7. Remove the clay and coat the other side of the casting object with soap. Pour plaster to the other side and wait until it s hardened And there you have it. This method of making molds can also be used for soap and candle making, and it allows for you to make all the cool shapes you ever dreamed of! To pour in molten plastic it s important to keep the plaster at the melting temperature of the plastic. The best way to handle molten plastic is to use injection method, because it has high viscosity, meaning it flows slowly. This is why we need to push the fluid out of where it was melted into the mold. Plastic heating and injecting apparatus should be made out of metal and should be handled with care to avoid any burns. References:

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