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Each new injection molding project has three inherent goals: performance for the customer; production efficiency for the manufacturer; and reliability for the end user. These goals are reasonable. The challenge lies in accomplishing all three within a desired timeframe and budget. To do so, plastics engineers at complex injection molders turn to Design of Experiments (DOE) to identify flaws that would otherwise derail project success.
The exact strength and flexibility of plastics can be easily determined with finite element analysis (FEA) techniques. The FEA process subdivides the product or part into finite-sized units of simple shape. Mathematical equations are used to test each unit for displacement, from which the stresses and strains can be calculated.
In broadest terms, Design for Manufacturability (DfM) — also known as Design for Manufacturing — is the process of consciously and proactively designing products to optimize all facets of manufacturing, including injection molding. DfM simultaneously helps ensure cost and time efficiencies, superior quality, regulatory compliance and end user satisfaction. Since manufacturing processes vary, there are set guidelines for DfM practices that define tolerances, rules and best practices.
The safety and welfare of military personnel is always a top priority, but sometimes that goal puts manufacturing focus on the end product instead of the process. In the case of engineering critical-use, injection-molded parts for military applications, the design holds the key to many benefits the end product will deliver.
Today’s military mission-readiness is heavily dependent on technology, necessitating product reliability and extended life cycles that far exceed the typical 18 months of consumer electronics — sometimes into decades.
When it comes to performance, industrial or complex consumer goods must outlive their anticipated lifetimes in order to accomplish two important goals: meeting customer expectations and mitigating warranty claims.
As we discussed in a recent article, a number of industrial sectors are converting metal components to plastic to gain efficiencies in cost, weight, performance, aesthetics and durability. All of these reasons are convincing arguments for metal-to-plastic conversion; however, the process isn’t right for all industrial applications.
Since 1975, the automotive industry has been under governmental mandate to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks manufactured in the United States. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, born out of the Arab Oil Embargo of the mid-70s, are still in effect today with recently added emphasis placed on further improving fuel economy, reducing greenhouse gases and saving people money at the gas pump.
While manufacturability, quality, and performance of injection molded automotive components is the end goal, getting to that point requires that design engineers carefully consider every aspect of the development. This includes the impact that the injection molding process has on overall fit, function, performance and safety of those critical use components.