Plastic injection moulder – finished!

I’ve just tested making my first plastic thingys using the plastic injection moulder. The design needs some final touches, but it works! I’m extremely happy right now. This project has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, it has been one of those projects that I had as a goal, but was put to the side as other shorter-term ideas came up.

The crazy thing is that while I’ve had this dream of making a plastic injection moulding device, I’ve had no plan of what actually to make with it. Making the device has been the goal, not what I can make with it.  Hmmm… more on that later, but first some pictures. The mould was pictured in an earlier post, and it’s basically a (gold) coin with the letter M on it, signifying the ‘Maker’. The mould is in aluminium, machined with my DIY CNC.  I will try to come up with something more useful to make…

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injection-moulding

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I bought the heating PID controller from dx.com, the heater from here and the plastic from this guy. I asked for a mix of different colours and plastics, and he delivered as requested (but unfortunately he didn’t mark the bags, so I’ve got some detective work to do to find out which ones are which). The coin in the picture is made from Gold Polyethylene (I think) and I used a temperature of about 200C, though I’m not quite sure I’m getting exactly the right temperature of the internal part of the cylinder. Anyway, it works!!!

The PE plastic I’m using doesn’t require much pressure to be squirted into the mould. One of the other plastics requires a lot more pressure (so much that I’m finding this difficult to use).

But why am I doing this? What is this Maker-dreams thing? I think it’s a reaction to how we are less used to making our own things now and just get things handed to us, ready-designed and ready-made. In research we call it ‘interpretive flexibility’… we have some of it, but not fully.

Interpretive flexibility is flexibility in what an object is (perceived to be), but also says something about the flexibility in how an object is designed. It says something about the room of possibility an inventor sees when inventing something, and the room for different uses the user sees when using it. In most cases, most people who have a hammer will only use it as a hammer. Few people will use it for other things than hammering, and even fewer will modify it or make their own hammer if they have some specific task they’d like to do.

I’m keen to understand and shorten the gap between the physical objects we have around us and the understanding of how they are made. I want to enhance our common understanding of how things are made and how they can be improved. Because the greatest obstruction to creativity is a thought that “x is not possible”. Maybe that’s what this Maker-dream thing is about. Narrowing that maker-user gap.

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