Nanotechnology refers to the multiple disciplines of science and technology whose common interest is in controlling matter on the atomic and molecular scale. It involves the creation of devices and materials from molecular components with dimensions at the nano scale, which ranges roughly from 1 to 100 nanometers (nm).
A nanometer is defined as one billionth of a meter and is used in measurements that are only visible under extremely high magnifications. To put it into perspective: a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; a human hair can be between 50,000 and 180,000 nanometers; and there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch.
Using nanotechnology—to control the behavior of the very atoms that make up molecules—it is now possible to alter and fabricate molecular structures with unique designs. This enables us to tailor make molecules and matter to create materials that offer specialized functions.
These materials can exude different properties at the nanoscale. Some become better at conducting electricity or heat, some are stronger, some offer different magnetic properties, some even change colors as their size is changed, and some significantly change the surface characteristics of products they are applied to.
In short, with nanotechnology there are infinite possibilities for the creation of products that were thought to be impossible.
Nanotechnology and Plastics
The plastics industry has begun embracing nanotechnology in the manufacture of a variety of material additives and nano composites that provide unique benefits in electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, flame retardants and structural integrity.
One of the greatest opportunities for improvement in plastic part production and part quality is in the mold. While moldmakers, design engineers and processors strive for perfection, this is not always realistic.
With current demands to maintain a competitive advantage, moldmakers and molders alike are challenged with highly complicated design requirements, expedited manufacturing expectations, coupled with high raw material prices for molds and resins.
Many parts require tight tolerances with little draft and high level cosmetic finishes. Some require designs that are not ideal for part cooling or part removal. Others require the use of various resin compounds that by their very nature may be prone to sticking and filling issues, as well as part surface imperfections.
A mold coating created using nanotechnology can address these issues, thereby solving significant problems for today’s moldmakers and processors—a semi-permanent, self-applied coating, designed to reduce cycle times, rejects and maintenance, while improving part quality in injection molding, blow molding and rubber molding applications.