With careful planning, complex injection molding can reduce costs, optimize functionality and improve aesthetics in medical devices.
When engineering-grade resins were introduced in the 1950s, some auto manufacturers were unfamiliar with the benefits of metal-to-plastic conversion, i.e. how to design plastics into products, and how to manufacture with plastics. Today this practice, also known as “lightweighting,” is becoming increasingly popular with automakers as they race to comply with a federal mandate calling for automobiles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Moving an idea from conception through production can take many paths. However, what initially appears to be the "easy route" can sometimes lead to complications, including certain efficiencies being overlooked or lost. Generally, spending more time and effort up front can simplify the process and provide desired outcomes, especially when you enlist the engineering expertise of your injection molding partner.
Snap-fit designs can be an effective way to replace fasteners/hardware in injection-molded plastic parts or products. For most applications, snap-fit connections are the simplest and most cost-effective way to assemble two parts — making them ideal for high-volume production. The quick and easy connections help reduce the risk of improper assembly, which occurs more frequently in applications that require more components (fasteners) and tools.
For manufacturers that produce complex, critical-use plastic parts and components, making sure that exact specifications and dimensions are met during production is crucial to success. Even a miscalculation of just .005 inches can spell disaster for the product and cost thousands to fix.
Tooling is arguably the most important part of the entire injection molding process. Not only does the tool need to be perfect to ensure all design specifications are met, but it’s also one of the most expensive, time-consuming fixes if something isn’t right—especially if you’re working with a third-party toolmaker. Working with an outside toolmaker for projects requires a lot of back and forth communication, leaving room for misinterpretations and sometimes delayed responses.
Much has been said about the ability of scientific molding to provide optimal control of the injection molding process – and in turn – help manufacturers that use precision-molded parts keep pace with competitors and be first to market. Scientific molding improves part quality by removing guesswork from the injection molding process, but many OEMs still have questions about what really makes it work in the first place. Is it just injection molding with high-tech equipment? The answer is actually the engineers who specialize in it.
Success in the injection molding business isn’t just about having the right equipment or the latest technologies. This is a good start, of course—but to completely meet the ever-evolving needs of clients who make complex products under challenging time and cost constraints, injection molders must have top tool makers in their supply chains that embrace the same vision of manufacturing excellence and customer service. Core to this philosophy is that tool makers must treat the injection molders’ clients as their own.
An approved vendor list isn’t meant to be static, and if you’re treating yours like it’s written in stone, you may be doing yourself and your business a disservice.
Critically evaluating vendor performance on a regular basis not only helps you identify and weed out those that aren’t consistently meeting expectations, it also provides an opportunity for vendor consolidation.