By: Ronnie Brown on April 1st, 2022
Molded Pulp and Fiber: Can I Fix My Wire Mesh Molds?
Today, we live in an era where eco-friendly living is encouraged and becoming the norm. As a result, countless organizations are stepping up to do their part and reduce their carbon footprint to support the many green initiatives in place.
A key player in helping organizations achieve their goals is the implementation of recycled products, such as molded pulp and fiber goods. This has caused a dramatic spike in demand for these products, which has forced molded pulp and fiber manufacturers to double and even triple their output.
In turn, their equipment is being used more than ever, and they are seeing various pieces and parts, like the wire mesh molds used on the metallic dies, endure accelerated wear and tear. Looking to reduce expenses associated with replacing these molds, some manufacturers have attempted to repair faulty mesh molds.
That said, how exactly do damaged molded pulp and fiber wire mesh molds get fixed?
Here at W.S. Tyler, we understand that every process comes with its fair share of hassles and setbacks. We want to make sure woven wire mesh isn't included on your list of setbacks, so we strive to be an extension of your team so you can address the other obstacles you are facing.
With that, the following article was written to help you understand everything you need to know about woven wire mesh mold repairs by providing insight into:
- What molded pulp and fiber is
- Woven wire mesh's contribution to the molded pulp and fiber industry
- What causes woven wire mesh molds to become damaged
- How to determine if your wire mesh molds have faults
- How you can repair faulty wire mesh molds
What Is Molded Pulp and Fiber?
The term molded pulp and fiber is used to describe goods made from a slurry of paper, fiber, and warm water. The fibers used can come from a number of sources; however, sugarcane, bamboo, and straw stand as the predominant fiber sources.
How Is Woven Wire Mesh Used When Molding Pulp and Fiber?
When you hold a finished molded pulp and fiber product, you are essentially holding the pulp and fiber filter cake that was extracted from the slurry. To separate the solid fibers from the water, screening media, such as woven wire mesh, is placed on top of the molding dies.
The wire mesh-lined dies are dunked into the slurry. As these dies resurface, a vacuum, pressure, and heat are applied to properly form the extracted pulp and fiber.
Manufacturers use the wire mesh screen layer to ensure this heat, pressure, and vacuum are distributed evenly.
What Causes Wire Mesh Molding to Break?
Despite being more durable than most screening media used, woven wire mesh will eventually wear down, and the individual wires will begin to break. In fact, wire mesh molds typically have a lifespan of 6 to 8 weeks.
The most notable factor that will dictate how long your wire mesh molds will last is how you handle the mesh, particularly when cleaning. In short, the rougher you are when cleaning the molds, the shorter the life expectancy.
It is recommended to avoid using abrasive brushes or scrubbers and harsh chemicals. When possible, water and a mild detergent should be used.
You should also be mindful that the fibers in the slurry wear the surface of the mesh over time. A good rule of thumb is that the more abrasive the fibers, the quicker the surface of the mesh will wear down.
How Do I Know There Are Faults in My Mesh?
The easiest way to quickly identify flaws within your molded pulp and fiber wire mesh screens is through visual identification. This should be done periodically, and you should look for things such as tears in the mesh, broken wires, and scratches on the mesh surface.
The quality of your pulp and fiber goods also provides critical insight into the state of your mesh. If you begin to see inconsistencies, such as clumps of pulp and fiber or holes in the products, odds are you should look into replacing or repairing your mesh molds.
How Can I Repair My Wire Mesh Molds?
If you decide to repair the faults in your wire mesh rather than replace the entire mold, you will most likely be welding the mesh. This can mean attempting to weld a broken wire back together or cutting the flawed portion out and welding new mesh in its place.
Regardless, welding your mesh instead of replacing it will ultimately result in costly downtime.
Additionally, repairing your mesh with welding techniques will negatively impact the aesthetic of the final product. This is because when molding pulp and fiber, the pore openings of the screens control the accuracy of the slurry extraction, and the profile of these openings are transferred during this process.
In other words, having welded sections of the mesh would not only alter the mesh's accuracy, but the mesh's welded areas would leave troublesome indents in the final product.
It's for this reason that if you are producing products that must meet specific aesthetic criteria, such as plates, cutlery, or bottles, it is strongly recommended to replace any wire mesh molds with substantial faults. But if you are producing products in which function is prioritized over form, like egg cartons or packing material, repairing your mesh molds via welding will have little to no effect on the end product.
Experiment With Different Alloys to Maximize the Lifespan of Your Mesh
While woven wire mesh provides the durability to adequately distribute heat and pressure during the molded pulp and fiber process, wear and tear should still be expected. This becomes even more true as the output of your operation increases.
If the final product's appearance is not critical, you may find it beneficial to repair damaged mesh. This can be done by either welding the two ends of a broken wire together or cutting a portion of the mesh out and welding a new piece of mesh.
But as you look into the best ways to repair your wire mesh molds, you must ask yourself what can be done to prolong the time between wire mesh mold replacement/repairs. Experimenting with the different mesh specifications, such as alloy, is a great way to fine-tune and get the most out of your wire mesh molds.
W.S. Tyler has helped customers weave the wire mesh into their operations for over 140 years. It is important that you feel confident in the mesh solution you implement, so strive to share the experiences and knowledge we've gained over the years to help alleviate any doubts you may have.
We wrote the following article to help you better understand wire mesh alloys so you can design molds that will get you one step closer to the perfect molded pulp and fiber operation:
About Ronnie Brown
Ronnie is the Content Writer for W.S. Tyler and has four years of experience as a professional writer. He strives to expand his knowledge on all things particle analysis and woven wire mesh to leverage his exceptional writing and graphic design skills, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for customers.