A reel-to-reel method for electronics manufacturing eliminates waste and error for reduced costs. Here’s how.
Reel-to-reel Insert molding can prove a more efficient process for design engineers when it comes to lowering assembly costs. The process is best suited for products that require dimensional stability and need to function in harsh environments, such as drug-delivery device parts and components.
How it works
Reel-to-reel insert over molding combines two technologies: stamping and molding.
In the reel-to-reel process, stamped components or frames arrive from the stamper in continuous form on a disposable cardboard, Masonite, plastic, or other type of reel. The base material of the stamped frame can be any material—copper or nickel-based alloys are the most common.
The perforated, continuous strip resembles a movie film. Perforations, known as pilot holes, advance the coiled sheet and locate the metal strip in the progressive die. The accuracy of the relationship between the mold's cavity and the pilot hole guarantee that the plastic detail always remains in the right place. The pilot hole also helps ensure the correct alignment of components in any subsequent manufacturing operation, such as forming, bending, soldering, welding, or assembly.
Technicians mount the stamped, reeled-up frame onto a pay-out reel (uncoiled), which feeds into the molding machine. Like the feeding motion in the die, the frame advances through the mold after each molding cycle. Here, the feeding unit on the punch press is usually mounted on the beginning of the progressive die and pushes the strips through the die.
This arrangement is opposite in the molding process, where the feeding unit mounts at the end of the mold and the strip is pulled through the mold. Molding can take place in a horizontal or vertical molding machine. Following the molding process, the frame rolls back onto a reel, and the part is ready for any secondary operation or shipment to the customer.