Plastic Troubleshooter
On-Line Solutions To Injection Molding Problems

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.

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.


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.

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.

NON-FILL (Short Shot)


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.


Some common causes and solutions are listed below.


Defect - Non-Fill, Short Shot
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NOTE: For more detailed information on the causes and solutions of this defect, you can find it in our BOOK, or ONLINE SEMINAR.