Non-fill can be defined as an incomplete molded part caused by insufficient material
injected into the mold. Non-fill can be an extension of a flow line or knit line condition.


Insufficient Material in hopper

Explanation: The most common cause of non-fill is insufficient material being injected into the mold, caused by not enough material in the hopper. Normally this is the result of employee error and the hopper was not checked often enough. It simply ran out of material.

Solution: It is best to use an automated system that replenishes material in the hopper as it is used. That way the machine will never run out of plastic. If manual systems are utilized instead, the employee in charge must understand the importance of keeping the hopper filled. Alarm units can be used to emit an audible signal when the material in the hopper reaches a preset level.

Low Barrel Temperature

Explanation: When barrel temperatures are too low, the material will not be heated to the proper temperature for adequate flow. The material will push slowly into the mold and the flow fronts that form will not be hot enough to complete the filling of the mold.

Solution: Increasing the barrel temperatures will allow the flow fronts to stay hotter longer and complete the filling of the mold. Make sure the proper profile is being used and that the material heats progressively as it travels through the barrel from rear to front.

Inadequate Back Pressure

Explanation: The back pressure control is used to impart a resistance to the molten material being prepared in the barrel for the upcoming cycle. This resistance is used to help preheat the material and also control the density of the melt before it is injected into the mold. If the back pressure setting is too low, the material may not be brought to the proper temperature and the flow fronts will not travel as far resulting in non-fill.

Solution: Increase the back pressure to increase the melt temperature and improve the ability for the fronts to flow. This is best accomplished by starting at the minimum of 50 psi and increasing in 10-psi increments until the proper flow is attained. Do not exceed 300 psi. The higher the back pressure the hotter the plastic, and excessive back pressure will thermally degrade the plastic.

Injection Pressure or Speed Too Low

Explanation: If the injection speed or pressure is too low, the molten plastic will not be pushed into the mold cavity fast enough to fill because it cools down and solidifies too soon.

Solution: Increase the injection pressure or speed. While these two parameters are related, it is not proper to adjust them both at the same time. Adjust them each independently and monitor the results closely to determine whether or not the other needs adjustment. As a rule-of-thumb, it is best to make adjustments in increments of no more than 10% of the original setting.

Excessive Non-Return Valve Clearance

Explanation: The non-return valve, found in the front section of the screw and barrel assembly, keeps molten plastic from slipping back over the injection screw when the screw is pushed forward during the injection phase of the process. The valve lies between the outside diameter of the screw and the inside diameter of the barrel and creates a seal between the two. If there is too much clearance (due to wear), the sealing effect is lost and slippage occurs. This results in a reduction in volume of plastic that gets injected into the mold and non-fill occurs.

Solution: Inspect the non-return valve mechanism and replace worn or damaged components. This wear is normal but is accelerated by molding materials that have reinforcements (such as glass) in them. The valve should be inspected at least every three months.

Bridging In Feed Throat

Explanation: As material is fed from the hopper to the heating cylinder, it passes through the feed throat of the machine. This area must have a temperature maintained at around 100 to 150 degrees F, depending on the plastic being molded, to prepare the material for higher heats in the barrel. But, if the temperature is too high, the plastic pellets begin to get sticky and bond together. This will form a blockage in the feed throat and material will not be allowed to fall through. It forms a bridge across the feed throat opening.

Solution: Decrease the feed throat temperature. The material supplier can provide the proper temperature value for a specific material. Make sure there is no obstruction in the water line used for cooling the feed throat.

Insufficient Barrel Capacity

Explanation: If the mold is running in a machine that does not have a large enough barrel, the material in the barrel may not be allowed to stay there long enough to absorb enough heat. The cold material will not flow as far as a hot material would and non-fill will occur. Increasing the heat may only degrade the plastic.

Solution: Place the mold in a machine that utilizes the 20% to 80% rule. This states that, ideally, a barrel should be sized such that 50% of the capacity is used every shot, but based on heat sensitivity of the material being used, that ratio can be between 20% for most materials and 80% for heat sensitive materials. This formula allows enough time for the material to absorb heat properly before being molded.


Low Mold Temperature

Explanation: Generally, a hot mold will allow a material to stay molten longer than a cold mold and cause the molecules to flow farther before they solidify. This results in a dense part with maximum fill. If the mold is too cold, the molecules solidify before they are packed and the flow fronts will not travel far enough to fill the cavity image.

Solution: Increase the mold temperature to the point at which the material has the proper flow and packs out the mold with maximum fill. Start with the material suppliers recommendations and adjust accordingly. Allow 10 cycles for every 10-degree change for the process to re-stabilize.

Small Gates and/or Runners

Explanation: Gates and/or runners that are too small will cause excessive restriction to the flow of the molten plastic. Many plastics will then begin to solidify before they fill the cavity.

Solution: Examine the gates and runners to determine if any burrs or other obstructions exist. If possible, perform a computer analysis to determine the proper sizing and location of gates and runners. Ask the material supplier for data concerning gate and runner dimensioning for a specific material and flow rate.

Improper Gate Location

Explanation: If certain materials are injected directly across a flat cavity surface, they tend to slow down quickly as a result of frictional drag and cool off before the cavity is properly filled. The flow fronts have difficulty traveling far enough to pack out the part.

Solution: Relocate, or redesign, the gate so that the molten plastic is directed against an obstruction such as a core pin. This will cause the material to disperse and continue to flow instead of slowing down.

Insufficient Venting

Explanation: Venting is used to remove trapped air and gases from the closed mold, so molten material will be able to flow into every section of the mold. If the air and gases are not removed they act as a barrier to the flow of the plastic and will not allow filling to occur.

Solution: Vent the mold by grinding thin (0.0005''-0.002'') pathways on the shutoff area of the cavity blocks. The viscosity of the plastic being molded determines the depth of the vent. Stiff materials can utilize deeper vents but fluid materials require thinner vents. In either case, the concept is to remove air from the mold as fast as possible with as deep a gate as the material viscosity will allow.


Improper Flow Rate

Explanation: Resin manufacturers supply specific formulations in a range of standard flow rates. Thin-walled products may require an easy flow material while thick-walled products can use a material that is stiffer. It is better to use as stiff a flow as possible because that improves physical properties of the molded part. But, the stiff material will be more difficult to push and this may result in the flow fronts not traveling far enough to fill the cavity image.

Solution: Utilize a material that has the stiffest flow possible without causing non-fill. Contact the material supplier for help in deciding which flow rate should be used for a specific application.


Inconsistent Process Cycle

Explanation: It is possible that the machine operator is the cause of delayed or inconsistent cycles. This will result in erratic heating of the material in the injection barrel. If such a condition exists, the colder particles may not flow properly and the flow front may not be allowed to travel far enough to fill the mold.

Solution: If possible, run the machine on the automatic cycle, using the operator only to interrupt the cycle if an emergency occurs. Use a robot if an ``operator'' is necessary. In addition, instruct all employees on the importance of maintaining consistent cycles.

Copyright Texas Plastic Technologies
Worldwide rights reserved