For a $6,250 pledge on Kickstarter, you can get an injection molding machine—a small, simple one. In fact, it operates on a wall outlet. It will be competing against 3D printers priced as low as $1,000, but it has one very big advantage. It runs on pellets that cost around $2 per pound compared to $55 per pound for the PLA used in 3D printers. It also offers other benefits of injection molding: faster production, longer product runs, better impact resistance, better surface finish, and superior part-to-part repeatability.
The quality probably is not comparable to what you would receive on a Wittmann Battenfeld or Arburg machine. And you lose some of the benefits of 3D printing, such as the ability to make internal, curving channels.
But it fits a niche for short-run production and prototyping.
The machine was developed by a small company near Cincinnati called APSX started by two engineers, Burak Cevik and Kubi Kara, in 2006 to make RFID devices. They decided to design and make their own injection molding machine because of problems finding reasonably priced parts.
“The only thing we needed was a small plastic enclosure about 2-inch by 4-inch and 1-inch deep,” says Kara. “We started with US-based companies first to make it easy…They were starting about $15K up to $25K only for a small mold. Plus the piece price was about $2-$3. The problem was that we needed only about 25 pieces just to have some tests with. “
Here are key specs for the machine:
- 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 10″ (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, anything with melt flow rate higher than 15 g/10 min is good.