The clamping unit holds the mold together, opens and closes it automatically, and ejects the finished part. The mechanism may be of several designs, either mechanical, hydraulic or hydromechanical.

Clamping Units. Clamping designs are of three types: toggle, hydraulic, and hydromechanical. Toggle clamps include various designs. An actuator moves the crosshead forward, extending the toggle links to push the moving platen toward a closed position. At the beginning of the movement, mechanical advantage is low and speed is high; but near the end of the stroke, the reverse is true. Thus, toggle clamps provide both high speed and high force at different points in the cycle when they are desirable. They are actuated either by hydraulic cylinders or ball screws driven by electric motors. Toggle-clamp units seem most suited to relatively low-tonnage machines.

Two clamping designs: (a) one possible toggle clamp design (1) open and (2) closed; and (b) hydraulic clamping (1) open and (2) closed. Tie rods used to guide movuing platens not shown.

Hydraulic clamps are used on higher-tonnage injection-molding machines, typically in the range 1300 to 8900 kN (150 to 1000 tons). These units are also more flexible than toggle clamps in terms of setting the tonnage at given positions during the stroke. Hydromechanical clamps are designed for large tonnages, usually above 8900 kN (1000 tons); they operate by (1) using hydraulic cylinders to rapidly move the mold toward closing position, (2) locking the position by mechanical means, and (3) using high pressure hydraulic cylinders to finally close the mold and build tonnage.