Surface microstructure replication in injection molding

Theilade, Uffe; Hansen, Hans
May 2007
International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology;May2007, Vol. 33 Issue 1/2, p157
Academic Journal
In recent years, polymer components with surface microstructures have been in rising demand for applications such as lab-on-a-chip and optical components. Injection molding has proven to be a feasible and efficient way to manufacture such components. In injection molding, the mold surface topography is transcribed onto the plastic part through complex mechanisms. This replication, however, is not perfect, and the replication quality depends on the plastic material properties, the topography itself, and the process conditions. This paper describes and discusses an investigation of injection molding of surface microstructures. The fundamental problem of surface microstructure replication has been studied. The research is based on specific microstructures as found in lab-on-a-chip products and on rough surfaces generated from EDM (electro discharge machining) mold cavities. Emphasis is put on the ability to replicate surface microstructures under normal injection-molding conditions, i.e., with commodity materials within typical process windows. It was found that within typical process windows the replication quality depends significantly on several process parameters, and especially the mold temperature. For the specific microstructures, evidence suggests that step-height replication quality depends linearly on structure width in a certain range.


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