Increasingly popular with manufacturers of consumer products, medical devices, and portable devices, overmolding improves functionality, performance, and aesthetics.
But, what is overmolding? And, more importantly, how can it affect how products are designed and profits achieved?
When it comes to custom plastic injection molding, there is no clear industry consensus as to the definition of “custom.” As a result, some injection molders, who claim to offer custom services, are actually incapable of engineering or producing parts with precise specifications and tight tolerances.
Manufacturers that unknowingly contract with these “custom” molders are often left holding the bag. It’s an unenviable position, and one you can avoid by understanding what factors differentiate a true custom plastic injection molding partner from less qualified choices.
By 2024 the need for automotive plastics, parts, and innovations will push the value of the automotive plastics market to a projected $50 billion.1
As for the proliferation in the use of plastic, electric car sales and improvements undoubtedly contribute but they are not the sole cause. Traditional automobile manufacturers have also largely adopted a plastics-first mindset when it comes to certain design, engineering, and production best practices.
Tool design is an essential and sometimes underestimated part of injection molding. Often, tooling is principally discussed in terms of expense since it can be among the largest investment an OEM makes in a project.
In the United States, about 70% of robotics technologies are used within four industries: automotive (38%), electronics (15%), plastics and chemicals (10%), and metals (7%).1 Industrial manufacturing relies on automation, and that reliance speaks volumes about how robots contribute to quality outcomes.
Automotive plastic components aren’t limited to sleek dashboards, seats, floor mats, and other automotive plastic design details that attract buyers. These features may provide a degree of protection, but a vehicle’s overall safety and performance are largely dictated by often unseen under-the-hood plastic car parts.
There’s no denying that pandemic-related, weather-influenced, and manmade disruptions have caused chaos within the plastics industry. For OEMs, finding injection molding solutions during these turbulent times is problematic. Finding knowledgeable molders to take on complicated design, engineering, injection molding, and other challenges that less skilled molders can’t handle is equally as difficult.
The resin shortage has injection molders and the larger plastics industry struggling to find balance. The late-February storm that blew into Texas and shut down 80% of U.S. resin production was the catalyst, but only one contributing factor.1
Industry authorities point to several reasons why resin supply and resin cost continue to fluctuate and how the ripple effect impacts suppliers and injection molders. A snapshot of current pricing illustrates the topsy-turvy landscape:
Confusion about which plastics align with a particular application can cause uncertainty about if and when to use custom injection molding. As a result, OEMs may not take advantage of how plastics benefit product design.
“Thermoplastic” and “thermoset” sound similar and both plastics categories offer choices appropriate for complex applications in a range of markets. However, it's the properties and processing behaviors of the materials within the categories that ultimately reveals the best choice for your injection molding project.