Plastics are extremely versatile, making them sought-after materials across a range of industries. For instance, in the United States the transportation/automotive and construction industries are two of the three major markets that account for the more than $31 billion spent annually on plastic components and products.1
One of the main advantages of using injection-molded components is versatility in the plastics available for specific, often complex, applications.
Addressing plastics needs early in the design process is ideal, as is partnering with an experienced custom injection molder with plastics-specific expertise. Working together ensures the plastics have the characteristics needed for the job, and that materials-based complications will not arise during design and molding.
Prototyping an injection-molded component is necessary to ensure proper quality and performance. Rapid tool prototyping and prototyping for injection molding production are two standard prototyping options, and each has its own advantages — but which is right for your projects?
Complex medical applications require devices and equipment that are protected from dust, chemical vapors, aerosol particles, airborne microbes and other contaminants that could compromise product quality, integrity, and safety.
Central to a new product development program (NPD) is the budget, and exploring economic efficiencies often leads to a debate between offshoring and reshoring.
In most instances, overseas costs are particularly attractive compared to domestic production of custom injection-molded components for consumer applications.
However, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the world is functioning within a new normal. Bottom line decisions are no longer black-and-white as the pandemic complicates — and often upends — supply chains, adding project time and cost. Quickly, the offshore injection molding "bargain" becomes a candidate for reshoring.
Cycle time directly influences plastic part cost and capacities, so keeping it as low as possible is the overarching goal of engineers and project managers. When getting quotes from various injection molders for plastic parts, they may be confronted with divergent cycle time estimates, calling accuracy and the molder’s capabilities into question.
Controlling costs is a huge part of any project. Materials can be expensive, especially advanced or specially engineered resins, so you want to select the right plastic and get as much bang for your materials buck as you can. One way to do this is the proper use of plastic regrind.
OEMs regularly face an important decision: use a supplier from overseas or partner with a US-based supplier.
Why is this so important? Because if your supplier is somehow incapacitated and deliverables are delayed, your orders go partially or wholly unfulfilled. That has a negative ripple effect on your customers and your reputation. This is evident from Thomas' March Industrial Survey, which saw a reduced desire from US manufacturers to source internationally (43% in February to 34% in March), and increase in those looking to source from North American manufacturers (47% from 43%).
Custom injection molding projects are understandably focused on plastics selection. After all, the materials used to construct the parts have the greatest influence over quality and performance.
However, the grade of injection molding tool steel chosen for production also has a major impact on project outcomes. Cycle times, part criteria, production volume, cost, and maintenance expectations all must be factored in to align the steel with the need.