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Injection moulding machines consist of a material hopper, an injection ram or screw-type plunger, and a heating unit. Also known as platens, they hold the moulds in which the components are shaped.
Presses are rated by tonnage, which expresses the amount of clamping force that the machine can exert. This force keeps the mould closed during the injection process. Tonnage can vary from less than 5 tons to over 9,000 tons, with the higher figures used in comparatively few manufacturing operations.
The total clamp force needed is determined by the projected area of the part being moulded. This projected area is multiplied by a clamp force of from 1.8 to 7.2 tons for each square centimetre of the projected areas.
As a rule of thumb, 4 or 5 tons/in2 can be used for most products. If the plastic material is very stiff, it will require more injection pressure to fill the mould, and thus more clamp tonnage to hold the mould closed.
The required force can also be determined by the material used and the size of the part; larger parts require higher clamping force.