Harnessing the Power of Plastics


The Differential Pressure Molding press is a simple frame and clamp system that is operated by air or water pressure, not by hydraulics. These clamps can be operated automatically – powered either by electricity or air – although manual operation is also possible where no utility requirements are desired.

Operation and maintenance of a DPM press is uncomplicated.

The press is powered by 110 V / 20 amp circuit, which powers both controls and a vacuum pump (operated by air or water) to form parts. Typically a 60 psi / 4.14 bar source of pressure is used to open and close the press. This represents an 80% reduction in power consumption vs. a conventional hydraulic press.

In most cases, no special site preparation will be required to house a DPM press.  In contrast, a large compression molding press can require 20-foot / 6-meter ceilings, a good foundation (to support press and tool weight), and power requirements in the range of 30 amps @ 480 V to run a 100-ton press – an operation that is considerably more costly and energy intensive.

Since DPM molds are formed from lightweight, thin-shell composites instead of steel or aluminum, the frame itself is light and the press is easily moveable since it is mounted on wheels. Owing to their low weight, DPM tools can usually be changed and moved by hand, eliminating the cost of a forklift and the skills needed to operate it. The DPM press also takes up considerably less floor space than a conventional compression press does.

Vantage Technologies custom builds DPM presses for customers who wish to purchase a system. Their cost is less than half that of a small hydraulic press and 80% less than a new compression-molding press.

Their low cost and ease of operation makes DPM presses ideal for startup manufacturing in remote sites or emerging markets where specialized facilities, equipment, and trained personnel may be unavailable. In fact, rather than import complete systems from other locations, DPM presses can usually be custom-built on site. This makes it easy and cost-effective to co-locate molding operations next to customer or supplier operations in nearly any part of the world. In turn, this helps reduce the energy requirements for manufacturing operations where subsystems are produced in one part of the world and combined with larger modules in other geographies. A good example is automotive headliners, where delicate fabric laminates may be produced in one geography and shipped to another to bond to the headliner substrate as it is formed.  With DPM, both can be produced in the same location and shipped complete to automotive-assembly operations.

When thermoplastic matrices are used, an oven or similar method of heating the sheet-form composite prior to forming is required and the tool will need to be cooled by air or water.  Vantage Technologies can build such systems as an integral component of the press setup. Although the DPM process was optimized for thermoplastic-composite systems, it has also been used successfully to mold materials with select thermoset matrices.