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There isn’t a whole lot that injection molders can do to speed up how long it takes to receive hard tooling. While they wait, however, they can take a number of key steps to streamline the product development process, up to and following the completion of the actual injection mold—saving up to a week or longer in lead time.
Cycle time directly influences part cost and capacities, so keeping it as low as possible is generally the overarching goal of engineers and project managers. In getting quotes from various injection molders they may be confronted with divergent cycle time estimates, calling accuracy and the molder’s capabilities into question.
More manufacturing companies—especially automotive—are becoming aware of converting existing metal products or parts to plastic. Plastic parts have the same tight tolerances and are just as tough as metal parts. Plastics can be engineered to have specific characteristics for particular applications that are better than metal. Plastic parts are typically up to 50 percent lighter in weight than metal parts and converting from metal to plastic can significantly reduce total manufacturing costs.
Customers count on their injection molders for expert advice. “Tight tolerance” is a term that is often tossed around loosely in the industry—however, if it’s not done right, parts and products will underperform or possibly fail, resulting in a tooling and/or process overhaul. Therefore tight tolerance is serious business, especially for complex, mission-critical parts.
Many industries can take advantage of antimicrobial resins. Examples where these resins are most commonly used include water-treatment systems, food packaging, plumbing and HVAC, medical/diagnostic equiptment, dental implants and personal care products. They are also utilized in clean room sensitive electronics testing and assembly, sterile packaging, conveyers, public transportation, and office equiptment.
Surface finish on plastic composites can vary a great deal, depending on the physical and chemical properties of the polymer blend, as well as the parameters of the injection molding process.
The first objective is working with the client to determine how important the surface finish is for the appearance and/or performance of the final product. For example, does the product need to be eye-catching or simply functional? Depending on the answer, the material selected and the desired finish will determine the settings for the injection molding process, as well as any secondary finishing operations that might be required.
Medical OEMs make device reliability a top priority, working with complex injection molders that are experienced in scientific molding to ensure accuracy in processes and production. The higher level of precision helps minimize overall costs by allowing for identification and correction of problems prior to production.
Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) is a symbolic language that is used on engineering drawings and computer-generated models to communicate geometric dimensions and allowable tolerance for various parts. Not only is this a useful exercise for product design, it’s also helpful on the manufacturing floor because engineers and operators can quickly see the degree of tolerance that is required for each part.
Commodity plastics are versatile materials appropriate for a breadth of applications. However, specialty or complex injection molded parts like those required for medical, fire, and safety industries may contain requirements that mainstream polymers can’t fulfill, such as chemical resistance, fire retardant properties and mechanical grade strength.