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Introduction

Reaction injection molding is widely employed in processing of various thermoset polymers and
anther material. It usually contains two or more liquids, accumulated in a high pressure mixing
unit and then injected into a mold, where they are polymerized or cured to form a desired part.
Hence, it presents a typical example of complex non isothermal and compressible flows of liquid
with reaction at high pressure and high temperature. Being mostly motivated by practical
applications many researchers worked in the field and made quite a few attempts to describe
experimentally or theoretically residual stresses remaining in the injection-molded parts (e.g. see
the papers by Lee and Kwon, 2001; Kim et al.2002). It is because this research was considered as
a very difficult task that needed a deep understanding of complicated dynamical behavior of
polymeric fluids caused by chemical reactions
What is Reaction Injection Molding?
Reaction injection molding is a simple concept. As its name suggests, the process is based on a
chemical reaction. A reactive liquid mixture (usually polyol and isocyanate) is injected or poured
into a mold where a chemical reaction takes place. After an exothermic (heat generating) reaction
occurs, the finished part is removed from the mold. Depending on the chemical formulation, the
end product can take on a wide range of physical characteristics: foam
Why should I be interested in RIM?
In this age of rising energy costs, many plastics manufacturers are pursuing ways to save
material and energy costs. Compared to thermoplastics, where high heat and pressure is required
to melt resins, RIM parts are formed from two liquid components that chemically react inside a
mold. The RIM process consumes less energy because it requires significantly less heat,
clamping pressure and tooling costs.

When it comes to RIM, the most critical process takes place in the mixing head. Complete
mixing of the polyol and isocyanate materials is essentialin order to produce quality parts.
In addition, RIM equipment:
is generally less complicated with a reduced initial cost of investment
requires lower-tonnage presses than thermoplastic molding
requires significantly less equipment and floor space than injection molding
uses less expensive molds and/or presses as RIM mold pressures are much lower
Reaction injection molding

The RIM Process


Reaction Injection Molding (RIM) is the process by which two liquid components chemically
react to form a plastic part. The two liquids are isocyanate (iso) and polyol. Iso is referred to as
the A side component and is the catalyst. Polyol is referred to as the B side and determines the
physical characteristics of the molded part. Density, impact strength, flex modulus, color, and
other properties can all be influenced by additives in the polyol. Mixing additives to the polyol
such as stabilizers, flow modifiers, combustion modifiers, filler, blowing agents, catalysts,
pigments, and release agents control the physical characteristics of the molded part. When the
A and B components combine, the isoreacts with the hydroxyl in the polyol to form a
thermosetting polyurethane polymer. This is an exothermic reaction, so water lines in the mold
are required to maintain proper molding temperatures. The diagram below shows a typical
RIM material system. The pressurized day tanks can hold from 30 gallons to 250 gallons of iso
orpolyol depending on the size of the system. Recirculation pumps and agitators maintain a
homogeneous blend of the individual components. Heat exchangers are used to maintain
temperature in the system. High pressure pumps or cylinders meter the iso and polyol into the
mix head. Flow rates, pressures, and temperatures are controlled to achieve quality molded parts.
The mix head contains injector nozzles which impinge the iso and polyol at ultra-high velocity to
provide excellent mixing. The velocity of the material transfers from turbulent to laminar flow
when passing the dam gate. This laminar flow in conjunction with the vents in the tools allows
the part to fill Proceeding under high pressure and temperature. The residual stresses, remaining
in the molded part due to incomplete relaxation, typically result in warping, shrinkage and even
crack of the final products. It means that the mechanical properties of molded products are
closely related to the residual stresses and therefore to the flow history experienced by the
reacting fluids. In this study, a mathematical model of reaction injection molding process was
developed and compared with experimental data for phenol-formaldehyde resin cured by
urotropin and filled with wood dust. The filled polymer fluid was described by the power-law
flow model. The mathematical formulation of this non-isothermal flow problem with chemical
reaction in the packing stage was reduced in the book by Leonov et al. (1977) to a nonlinear
piezo-conductivity 1D PDE that describes the time evolution of pressure distribution along the
mold channel.In this paper we obtained the analytical solution of this equation under specific
initial conditions. This theoretical description is then compared with experimental results.

Reaction injection molding

The schematic illustration of reaction injection molding and machine

Fig. 1. Schematic of the reaction injection molding process


employed in this study.

Fig 1, the
schematic of a RIM machine process

Reaction injection molding

Fig 2, Schematic of RIM process


Material storage
In a typical RIM operation, the raw materials are stored in day tanks or bulk storage tanks before
processing. The materials are temperature-controlled to the optimum processing temperature as
specified by the material supplier. These results in a consistent manufacturing environment day
in and day out, and will provide the desired physical properties or cell structure. If the materials
have other ingredients like fillers or pigment that need to be evenly dispersed throughout the
chemical system, stirring devices or tank agitators are often incorporated into the tanks to
prevent settling or chemical separation.
Recirculation
The materials are continuously circulated at low pressure by the pumping system and through the
mixing head. When the materials reach the mixing head, they are recirculated back to the day
tanks and then through the same path again back out to the mixing head. This low-pressure
recirculation can be used to maintain temperature, nucleation, and will help keep added
ingredients such as fillers or pigments evenly dispersed.
Dispensing
The two reactive materials, polyol and isocyanate, are kept separate until they reach the mixing
head. When it is time to dispense a shot or make a pour, the machine automatically switches
from recirculation to dispense mode. At this point, the metering pumps precisely deliver the
materials to the mixing head at the required volume, ratio, flow rate and temperature. The
chemicals are then mixed by either high-pressure impingement (about 2500 psi) or in a high
shear dynamic mix chamber. The mixture is then injected into a closed mold or poured into an
open mold or cavity.

Reaction injection molding

Molding
An immediate chemical reaction occurs inside the mixing head, with a continued exothermic
reaction inside the mold cavity as the curing process progresses. When processing foams,
significant forces created inside the mold must be resisted to ensure the integrity of the part. The
clamping pressure required can be up to many tons depending on the size, expansion rates, and
the desired density of the part, along with other material factors. Mounting the mold in a
pneumatic or hydraulic press provides the force required to keep the mold tightly closed during
the curing process. Elastomeric materials often require very little clamping pressure as they do
not expand or generate internal mold forces.
The difference between RIM and injection molding
Injection molding is the process of forcing melted plastic into a mold. With reaction
injection molding, two liquid components (isocyanate and polyol) are mixed in a high- or low
pressure Mixing head and pumped into a mold. The reaction occurs in the mold, resulting in
polyurethane part.
Conventional thermoplastic molding vs. Reaction Injection Molding
Material
Processing T

Thermoplastic Molding
Thermoplastics in pellet

RIM
Low viscosity liquids

Mold T

form 350 to 450F (176 to 232C)

Mold Pressure

350 to 450F (176 to 232C)

Floor Space

Multiple tons of pressure Equipment


and molds

Low processing temperatures 90 to 105F


(32 to 40C)
Low mold temperatures 90 to 105F (32 to
40C)
Low internal molding pressure 50 psi (3.4 bar)
and up Equipment requires less floor space

Energy

require more floor space more energy


to make a product

Less energy to make a product

Investment

High initial investment

Low initial investment

On The table expressed the deferent between Conventional thermoplastic molding vs Reaction
Injection Molding

Reaction injection molding

RIM MOLDING AND OTHER MOLDING PROCESS CHART

The Advantages of RIM Process:

Compared to thermoplastic injection molding, which requires high heat and high
pressure to press melted plastic pellets into a steel mold, RIM parts are formed
when two liquid components (polyol and isocyanate) chemically react inside a mold.
The RIM process offers many advantages over competing technologies including:

Very large, lightweight parts


The "flowability" of polyurethane components means the material is distributed
evenly inside the mold. This lets you produce large parts, which is not possible with
injection molding. Because mold pressures are much lower, large presses are not
necessary.

Varied Wall Thickness


Producing significant variable wall thickness within the same molded part is
achievable with RIM. Wall thickness ranges between .25 inches and 1.125 inches are
possible cross-sections in the same molded part. This is NOT true for thermoplastic
injection molding, blow molding, sheet molding compound and other polymers
Reaction injection molding

Low Tooling Costs

RIM tooling costs are significantly less than that of an injection mold. Because the
RIM process incorporates low temperatures and low mold temperatures and
pressure, the tool can me made out of less expensive mold materials other than
steel such as cast aluminum, aluminum, kirksite alloys, nickel, epoxy, silicone and
fiberglass. The choice depends on such factors as the number of parts to be made;
dimensions, shapes, and tolerances; the quality and texture of the surface; mold
life; required mold cost; and part performance. The larger the mold, the greater the
savings.

Freedom of design
RIM lets you mold highly detailed, intricate parts at relatively low tooling and capital equipment
costs. Parts with varying wall thicknesses can be designed into the same molded part.
Encapsulation of Inserts
Different types of inserts and be placed into a mold prior to injection of the RIM material, and
the RIM material can encapsulate many inserts during molding. Inserts such as steel, aluminum,
glass, wood, electronic sensors, PC boards and wiring harnesses are some examples of material
that have been encapsulated.
Rapid prototypes
Excellent working prototypes can be developed with lead times of 3-15 days, at a cost much less
than traditional injection molding.
Class A Surfaces
The surface finish of RIM parts allows manufacturers to produce Class A painted parts - highgloss finishes that match high-gloss painted metal parts.
In-Mold Painting
With the RIM process, its possible to apply gel-coats and two-component
polyurethane in-mold paints into the mold prior to injection. The injected
polyurethane material bonds to the gel-coat or paint during molding, allowing a
decorated part to be produced in the mold. This can significantly reduce secondary
finishing costs.

Other Benefits
High strength, dimensional stability, good weather ability, scratch resistant, heat resistant, impact
resistant, resistant to organic and inorganic acids, and high R Value.
Additionally, Reaction injection molding can produce strong, flexible, lightweight parts which can easily
be painted. It also has the advantage of quick cycle times compared to typical vacuum cast materials. The
bi-component mixture injected into the mold has a much lower viscosity than molten thermoplastic
polymers, therefore large, light-weight, and thin-walled items can be successfully RIM processed. This
thinner mixture also requires less clamping forces, which leads to smaller equipment and ultimately lower
capital expenditures another advantage of RIM processed foam is that a high-density skin is formed with
a low-density core.The disadvantages are slow cycle times, compared to injection
molding, and expensive raw materials

Types of materials manufactured with the RIM process


The two major material categories are foams and elastomers. Foams can be rigid or flexible, and
contain a cell structure of some kind. Microcellular foams are the result of direct dissolution of
inert gases (like nitrogen, argon or carbon dioxide) into a melted polymer stream .Micro cellular
foams are typically thermoplastic related, not thermoset related.Elastomers are all solid but have
Reaction injection molding

differing durometers; in other words, they can be very Soft or gel-like (shoe inserts) or very rigid
(automotive aftermarket styling kits).

Benefit of reaction injection molding


1. Very large, lightweight parts
The flow ability of polyurethane components allows for even distribution of the material with
in the mold. This lets you produce large parts, which is not possible with injection molding. And
because mold pressures are much lower, large presses are not necessary.
2. Low-cost molds
Because of the low injection pressures of the RIM process, mold builders can use a variety
of less expensive mold materials including steel, aluminum, Kirk site alloys, nickel, epoxy,
silicone and fiberglass. The larger the mold, the greater the savings.
3. Freedom of design
RIM lets you mold complex shapes or highly detailed parts with intricate design feature sat
relatively low tooling and capital equipment costs. Monolithic parts or components with varying
wall thicknesses can be designed into the same molded part.
4. Rapid prototyping
Excellent working prototypes can be developed with lead times of 3-15 days, at a cost much less
than traditional injection molding. This also allows for ergonomic or functionality testing prior to
cutting actual high-pressure injection molds. RIM is ideal for shorter production runs of less than
5,000.
5. Class Surfaces
The surface finish of RIM parts allows manufacturers to produce Class A painted parts highgloss finishes that match high-gloss painted metal parts.
Physical characteristics of polyurethane RIM products
Depending on the chemical formulation, the end product can take on a range of physical
Characteristics: either foam or solid, highly rigid or very flexible. Polyurethane products
Manufactured from the RIM process are:
Lightweight
High strength
Scratch resistant
Heat resistant
Impact resistant
Resistant to organic and inorganic acids
High R-value

Reaction injection molding

Product produced by reaction injection molding

Becket
mold

Chair

Pallet

Principle
RIM means Reaction Injection Moulding and R-RIM means that the resin is reinforced. At the beginning,
this process has been developed with polyurethane (PUR) which basic compounds are isocyanates and
polyols. The principle of RIM consists in injecting the compounds that are mixed in a rod before putting
them into a closed mould at low pressure (0,5 Mpa).

Materials and tools


For R-RIM, there are two techniques of implementation:
1. The reinforcement is previously introduced into one of the two compounds, given that polyols
and isocyanates do not stand the merest trace of humidity.
2. The reinforcement, preceded as mats of continuous threads is previously set up in the mould. The
most used resins are polyurethane or derived polymer but the use of polyamids and epoxides is in
development.

The use of internal release agents is increasingly practiced in order to eliminate the systematic
operations of treatments for the moulds. The moulds are made of epoxide resin for pre-series or
medium series and they are metallic for large series. They are equipped with heat transfer fluids.
The pumps in the injection machine can reach 18-20 Mpa in a 2-5m mixing chamber. While
getting out of the pipe, the material is submitted to a pressure equal to approximately 0,5 Mpa.
Cycles last around 50 to 90s.
Reaction injection molding

Conclusion
Reaction injection molding is widely employed in processing of various thermoset polymers and
anther material. It usually contains two or more liquids, accumulated in a high pressure mixing
unit and then injected into a mold, where they are polymerized or cured to form a desired part.
Hence, it presents a typical example of complex non isothermal and compressible flows of liquid
with reaction at high pressure and high temperature. Reaction injection molding is a simple
concept. As its name suggests, the process is based on a chemical reaction. A reactive liquid
mixture (usually polyol and isocyanate) is injected or poured into a mold where a chemical
reaction takes place. After an exothermic (heat generating) reaction occurs, the finished part is
removed from the mold. Depending on the chemical formulation, the end product can take on a
wide range of physical characteristics: foam the use of internal release agents is increasingly
practiced in order to eliminate the systematic operations of treatments for the moulds. The
moulds are made of epoxide resin for pre-series or medium series and they are metallic for large
series.

Reaction injection molding