We also support you with your component and mould design for all standard foaming processes. Upon request, we will select the required equipment. We will optimize your process on-site or run customer trials at our own technical centre.
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Physical foaming Chemical foaming
Two methods of physical foaming are established in the polymer industry: continuous foaming (extrusion) and discontinuous foaming (injection moulding). Used for the purpose of weight reduction, the foaming process also reduces the cost of plastic parts. It can also be used to compensate for shrinkage or for maintaining the holding pressure as is also the case in gas-assist technology.
The fluids (nitrogen or carbon dioxide) are inserted into the melt. This occurs in the place of plasticization, i.e. the gas is either applied directly into the plasticizing cylinder (Mucell method) or fed into the plasticizing cylinder through a special nozzle (SULZER method). The gas dissolves in the melt at a certain pressure and expands as soon as the melt is injected into the cavity. During volumetric filling, gas expansion assumes the role of holding pressure, which prevents voids and warpage. The gas streaks that may occur during melt injection, are prevented by means of gas back pressure or the selection of special material or additives.
The produced part is comprised of a compact outer skin and a so-called microcellular foam or foam with integral density distribution (integral foam). The number and size of pores depends on the nucleation (number of crystallization seeds) and other physical parameters such as pressure, temperature and mould filling level.
Chemical foaming involves the introduction of blowing agents (powder or pellets) to the melt. During the plasticization process and with rising temperature, the chemical additive decomposes and gives off gas (mostly carbon dioxide). This process also involves dissolution of the gas in the melt and maintenance of a minimum level of pressure. The next stages are identical to those described for physical foaming. This method has the benefit of not requiring any special equipment.