Many common plastic items are created using an injection moulding machine, and manufacturers point to the machine's efficiency and speed in pressing out plastic products. Much of the injection moulding process is automated, and in many cases, the machine operator's role is merely to monitor it. While operation requires minimal training, there are several potential dangers to running an injection moulding machine.
Depending on the type of material used, the melting point for plastic ranges from 121 to 343 degrees Celsius. An injection moulding machine will heat up enough to not just melt the plastic, but allow it to flow smoothly into the mould. Burns are a hazard, whether from the machine's heated surfaces, melted plastic or from the freshly moulded product. In addition to eye and face protection, heat-resistant gloves may be needed while operating the machine.
Caught In the Press
On an injection moulding machine, the platens join together to form the actual mould, and the plastic is moulded under pressure before it is ejected. This constant movement creates a hazard, as fingers can be crushed or amputated in the press. Long hair and jewellery can also get hung up in the machinery, severely injuring the operator. Reaching into a moulding machine to free up a stuck part is particularly dangerous.
While not part of the injection moulding process, waste plastic is often thrown into a grinder that can shred the scraps--or anything else that gets into the grinder--in seconds.
Plastics and polymers are made from different chemical compounds that, when melted, may give off hazardous fumes. An injection moulding machine should only be operated in a well-ventilated area.
While most products made via an injection moulding machine are ejected in a controlled manner, there is still the possibility of flying objects. Eye and face protection should be worn when operating the machine.
Slipping and Falling
Good housekeeping is essential when running an injection moulding machine. Scraps of plastic can quickly collect on the surrounding floor area quickly, and it is easy to lose your footing and fall. New plastic is often shipped in pellet form, which can be hazardous if spilt.