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1. (WO2019066776) INJECTION MOLDING FLOW CONTROL APPARATUS AND METHOD
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Claims:

1 . In an apparatus (10) for controlling flow of fluid injection material (18, 100a, 100b) from an injection molding machine to a mold cavity (30), wherein the apparatus comprises: a manifold (40) receiving the injected fluid mold material, the manifold having one or more fluid delivery channels (42, 44, 46) that delivers the injected fluid material (100a, 100b) through a gate (32, 34, 36) to the mold cavity (30);

a pressure sensing assembly comprising:

an actuator (20a, 940, 941 , 942) comprising a piston (40p) interconnected to a valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) drivable along a drive path that extends between a gate closed position (40gc) where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) (1041 ) stops flow through (GC) the gate and an upstream open position where the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin is withdrawn upstream to enable injection fluid material (100a, 100b) to flow through the gate (32, 34, 36),

the piston (40p) being housed within a piston housing (20h) in an arrangement that forms an upstream drive chamber (30u) and a downstream drive chamber (30d), the upstream drive chamber having a drive fluid port (50, 52) fluid sealably interconnected via an upstream drive fluid channel (704) to a restriction valve (600), the piston (40p) being drivable upstream and downstream by drive fluid (14) pumped into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) through the drive fluid port (50, 52), drive fluid channel (704) and restriction valve (600),

a pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) adapted to sense pressure of the drive fluid (14) disposed within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704),

a controller (16) that includes a program that instructs the restriction valve (600) to close for a first portion of an injection cycle to prevent flow of the drive fluid (14) such that the piston (40p) is held or stopped in a first position where drive fluid (DF) resides and remains within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704) without flow through the restriction valve (600) during the first portion of the injection cycle,

the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) sensing pressure of the drive fluid (DF) resident and remaining within either the upstream drive chamber (30u) or the upstream drive fluid channel (704) during the first portion of the injection cycle,

the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) sending and the controller (16) receiving a signal indicative of the sensed pressure, wherein the controller (16) operates to execute a display (1300) of a visually recognizable format corresponding to the sensed pressure or uses the received signal in an algorithm to control movement of the piston (40p).

2. The pressure sensor assembly according to claim 1 wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that operate to display a visually recognizable format of the sensed pressure as either sensed pressure of the drive fluid (DF) or pressure of the injection fluid (100a, 100b) that correlates to the sensed pressure (DF) of the drive fluid.

3. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel to a selected maximum upstream position during the course of the injection cycle that leaves a space or volume (30s) within which drive fluid (DF) resides during the first portion of the injection cycle.

4. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the maximum upstream position of the piston (40p) is selected such that an upstream end surface (40e) of the piston (40p) is spaced an axial distance of between 0.1 and 2.0 mm from an opposing undersurface (20uws) of an upstream wall of the upstream drive chamber (30u).

5. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the maximum upstream position of the piston (40p) is selected such that an upstream end surface (40e) of the piston (40p) is spaced an axial distance of between 0.25 and 1 .0 mm from an opposing undersurface (20uws) of an upstream wall of the upstream drive chamber (30u).

6. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein an upstream surface (40e) of the piston (40p) remains spaced at least a selected axial distance greater than 0.1 mm away from an undersurface (20uws) of the housing (40h) or upstream drive chamber (30U) during the entire course of the injection cycle.

7. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims including a source of drive fluid (14) that is drivable into and out of the upper drive chamber (30u) through the restriction valve (600) and upstream drive fluid channel (704), the restriction valve (600) being controllably openable by the controller (16) to a selected degree to enable flow of drive fluid (DF, FEX) into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) at a selectable rate of flow to control rate of travel of the piston (40p), the restriction valve (600) being controllably closable to controllably stop flow of drive fluid (DF) into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) and to stop movement of the piston (40p).

8. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel, subsequent to the first portion of the injection cycle, to a second position for a second portion of the injection cycle where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is selectively controlled.

9. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the instructions of the controller (16) operate to drive the piston (40p) to the second position in response to receipt of a first trigger signal from the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) that is indicative of a first selected target pressure.

10. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel, subsequent to the second portion of the injection cycle, to a third position for a third portion of the injection cycle where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is selectively controlled.

1 1 . The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the instructions of the controller (16) operate to drive the piston (40p) to the third position in response to receipt of a second trigger signal from the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) that is indicative of a second selected target pressure.

12. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the first position is a position where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate (32, 34, 36) such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is not significantly restricted and injection fluid (100a, 100b) flows at a maximum speed or a

relatively high speed or velocity or pressure at and through the gate and wherein the second position is a position wherein the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is disposed axially intermediate a gate closed (40gc) and a fully gate open position such that the end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) restricts or reduces rate or velocity of flow or pressure of the injection fluid (100a, 100b) flowing through or exerted at the gate to a selected reduced velocity or pressure that is less than a maximum rate of flow or pressure.

13. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the second position is a position where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate (32, 34, 36) such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is (a) not significantly restricted and injection fluid (100a, 100b) flows at a relatively high speed or velocity or pressure at and through the gate or (b) such that the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is disposed axially intermediate a gate closed (40gc) and a fully gate open position such that the end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) restricts or reduces rate or velocity of flow or pressure of the injection fluid (100a, 100b) flowing through or exerted at the gate to a selected reduced velocity or pressure that is less than a maximum velocity or pressure.

14. The pressure sensor assembly according to any of the preceding claims wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the actuator (40p) to drive the valve pin (1041 ) upstream beginning from the gate closed position to the first position for the first portion of the injection cycle and subsequently to one or more different subsequent positions for one or more different subsequent portions of the injection cycle in response to receipt by the controller (16)) of one or more trigger signals from the pressure sensor (603ec, 603e) corresponding to one or more selected sensed target pressures.

15. A method of measuring pressure of an injection fluid material (100a, 100b) injected into an apparatus (10) for controlling rate of flow of the injection fluid material (18, 100a, 100b) from an injection molding machine to a mold cavity (30), wherein the apparatus comprises: a manifold (40) receiving the injected fluid material, the manifold having one or more fluid delivery channels (42, 44, 46) that delivers the injected fluid material (100a, 100b) through a gate (32, 34, 36) to the mold cavity (30), an actuator (20a, 940, 941 , 942) comprising a piston (40p) interconnected to a valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) drivable along a drive path that extends between a gate closed position where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) (1041 ) obstructs (GC) the gate and an upstream open position where the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin is withdrawn upstream to enable injection fluid material (100a, 100b) to flow through the gate (32, 34, 36), wherein the piston (40p) is housed within a piston housing (20h) in an arrangement that forms an upstream drive chamber (30u) and a downstream drive chamber (30d), the upstream drive chamber having a drive fluid port (50, 52) fluid sealably interconnected via an upstream drive fluid channel (704) to a restriction valve (600), the piston (40p) being drivable upstream and downstream by drive fluid (14) pumped into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) through the drive fluid port (50, 52), drive fluid channel (704) and restriction valve (600), the method being characterized in that:

a pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) is adapted to sense pressure of the drive fluid (14) disposed within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704),

closing the restriction valve (600) for a first portion of an injection cycle to prevent flow of the drive fluid (14) such that the piston (40p) is held or stopped in a first fully or partially open position where drive fluid (DF) resides and remains within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704) without flow through the restriction valve (600) during the first portion of the injection cycle,

sensing pressure of the drive fluid (DF) resident and remaining within either the upstream drive chamber (30u) or the upstream drive fluid channel (704) via the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) during the first portion of the injection cycle,

displaying the sensed pressure of the drive fluid (DF) on a display (1300) in a visually recognizable format (1310) corresponding to the sensed pressure or, using the sensed pressure as a variable in an algorithm to control movement of the piston (40p).

16. A method of measuring pressure of an injection fluid material (100a, 100b) comprising operating a pressure sensing assembly according to any of the preceding claims 1 -13.

17. An apparatus (10) for controlling the rate of flow of fluid injection material (18, 100a, 100b) from an injection molding machine to a mold cavity (30), the apparatus comprising: a manifold (40) receiving the injected fluid mold material, the manifold having one or more fluid delivery channels (42, 44, 46) that delivers the injected fluid material (100a, 100b) through a gate (32, 34, 36) to the mold cavity (30);

an actuator (20a, 940, 941 , 942) comprising a piston (40p) interconnected to a valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) drivable along a drive path that extends between a gate closed position where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1040, 1041 , 1042) (1041 ) obstructs (GC) the gate and an upstream open position where the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin is withdrawn upstream to enable injection fluid material (100a, 100b) to flow through the gate (32, 34, 36),

the piston (40p) being housed within a piston housing (20h) in an arrangement that forms an upstream drive chamber (30u) and a downstream drive chamber (30d), the upstream drive chamber having a drive fluid port (50, 52) fluid sealably interconnected via an upstream drive fluid channel (704) to a restriction valve (600), the piston (40p) being drivable upstream and downstream by drive fluid (14) pumped into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) through the drive fluid port (50, 52), drive fluid channel (704) and restriction valve (600),

a pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) adapted to sense pressure of the drive fluid (14) disposed within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704),

a controller (16) that includes a program that instructs the restriction valve (600) to close for a first portion of an injection cycle to prevent flow of the drive fluid (14) such that the piston (40p) is held or stopped in a first fully or partially open position where drive fluid (DF) resides and remains within the upstream drive chamber (30u) or within the upstream drive fluid channel (704) without flow through the restriction valve (600) during the first portion of the injection cycle,

the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) sensing pressure of the drive fluid (DF) resident and remaining within either the upstream drive chamber (30u) or the upstream drive fluid channel (704) during the first portion of the injection cycle.

18. An apparatus according to claim 17 wherein ththe pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) sends and the controller (16) receives a signal indicative of the sensed pressure, the controller (16) including instructions that operate to execute a display (1300) of a visually recognizable format corresponding to the sensed pressure or uses the received signal in an algorithm to control movement of the piston (40p).

19. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-18 wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel to a selected maximum upstream position during the course of the injection cycle that leaves a space or volume (30s) within which drive fluid (DF) resides during the first portion of the injection cycle.

20. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-19 wherein the maximum upstream position of the piston (40p) is selected such that an upstream end surface (40e) of the piston (40p) is spaced an axial distance of between 0.1 and 2.0 mm from an opposing undersurface (20uws) of an upstream wall of the upstream drive chamber (30u).

21 . An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-20 wherein the maximum upstream position of the piston (40p) is selected such that an upstream end surface (40e) of the piston (40p) is spaced an axial distance of between 0.25 and 1 .0 mm from an opposing undersurface (20uws) of an upstream wall of the upstream drive chamber (30u).

22. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-21 wherein an upstream surface (40e) of the piston (40p) remains spaced at least a selected axial distance greater than 0.1 mm away from an undersurface (20uws) of the housing (40h) or upstream drive chamber (30U) during the entire course of the injection cycle.

23. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-22 including a source of drive fluid (14) that is drivable into and out of the upper drive chamber (30u) through the restriction valve (600) and upstream drive fluid channel (704), the restriction valve (600) being controllably openable by the controller (16) to a selected degree to enable flow of drive fluid (DF, FEX) into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) at a selectable rate of flow to control rate of travel of the piston (40p), the restriction valve (600) being controllably closable to controllably stop flow of drive fluid (DF) into and out of the upstream drive chamber (30u) and to stop movement of the piston (40p).

24. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-23 wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel, subsequent to the first portion of the injection cycle, to a second position for a second portion of the injection cycle where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is selectively controlled.

25. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-24 wherein the

instructions of the controller (16) operate to drive the piston (40p) to the second position in response to receipt of a first trigger signal from the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) that is indicative of a first selected target pressure.

26. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-25 wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the piston (40p) to travel, subsequent to the second portion of the injection cycle, to a third position for a third portion of the injection cycle where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is selectively controlled.

27. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-26 wherein the instructions of the controller (16) operate to drive the piston (40p) to the third position in response to receipt of a second trigger signal from the pressure sensor (603e, 603ec) that is indicative of a second selected target pressure.

28. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-27 wherein one or more of the second and third positions are positions where a distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is positioned relative to the gate such that flow of injection fluid (100a, 100b) is not significantly restricted and injection fluid (100a, 100b) flows at a relatively high speed or velocity or pressure at and through the gate or where the distal end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) is disposed axially intermediate a gate closed and a fully gate open position such that the end (1 155) of the valve pin (1041 ) restricts or reduces rate or velocity of flow or pressure of the injection fluid (100a, 100b) flowing through or exerted at the gate to a selected reduced velocity or pressure that is less than a maximum rate of flow or pressure.

29. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-28 wherein the controller (16) includes instructions that instruct the actuator (40p) to drive the valve pin (1041 ) upstream beginning from the gate closed position to the first position for the first portion of the injection cycle and subsequently to one or more of the second and third positions for the second and third portions of the injection cycle in response to receipt by the controller (16)) of the first and second trigger signals.

30. A method of measuring pressure of an injection fluid material (100a, 100b) comprising operating an apparatus according to any of the preceding claims 17-29.