Generally speaking, Design for Manufacturability (DfM) is the process of consciously and proactively designing products to optimize all facets of manufacturing.
DfM methodology aligns engineering and production in the design phase, ensuring cost and time efficiencies, superior quality, regulatory compliance, and end-user satisfaction.
Central to maximizing these DfM benefits is prioritizing Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) within the larger plastic part analysis to assess risk probability. Identifying and addressing problems early in the product development process prevents costly issues that could impact manufacturability such as plastics selection, tight tolerances, and secondary operations.
The gaps between raw materials, demand, and delivery continue to define a very uncertain future for the plastics industry. Manufacturers, injection molders, and all others dependent on plastics are understandably at a loss.
Finding solutions generally requires finding replacements for nylon, acetal resins, polysulfone (PSU), polyphthalamide (PPA), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), and syndiotactic polystyrene (SPS) — a task not easily completed in light of the catastrophic resin shortage.
Up until World War II, achieving necessary product functionality at the lowest cost was usually done by any means necessary. However, the war-related scarcity of materials and parts compelled General Electric engineers to find material substitutes.
Many of the substitutes reduced project costs and improved overall product performance — and the standard practice of finding cost-effective manufacturing solutions without compromising product functionality or quality was born. Today, we know it as "value analysis" for existing parts or “value engineering" for new parts.
Custom injection molding is, by nature, highly precise. Part performance and reliability hinge on production processes that ensure accurate, consistent outcomes. Being able to deliver on these nuances is often what sets custom injection molders apart — and generally typifies molders with engineers trained in scientific molding.
A surprising number of projects are completed without using a prototype tool. The general idea is that prototype tooling is an extra, unnecessary step that increases cost and decreases development and production times.
Actually, the opposite is true. Custom injection molding done without a prototype tool typically leads to a series of required production tool adjustments that are both costly and disruptive. The perceived savings of skipping prototype tooling quickly evaporate, and the higher risk of part defect introduces the possibility of incurring legal expenses and other related costs.
Depending on the complexity of the application, prototype tooling generally accounts for about 20-40% of overall production tooling costs. It's not an insignificant investment, but one that's well worth it when you consider the advantages.
Injection molding tooling is at the heart of injection molding. Whether it’s a complex application or simple part, plastic injection tooling – more specifically, tooling design – determines the quality of the injection molding process and the parts produced.
Success in the injection molding business isn’t limited to having the right equipment or the latest technologies. It's a good start, of course, but it takes more to meet the needs of customers that require custom injection molding for complex applications completed under challenging time and cost constraints.
Custom injection molders must have top toolmakers in their supply chains that prioritize manufacturing excellence and customer service. Core to this philosophy is that toolmakers must treat the injection molders’ customers as their own.
Custom injection molding projects are, by nature, an expensive undertaking. Part development and tooling design/build often account for the majority of the budget, particularly in the case of intricate components. The consistency, quality, and cost of the part produced largely hinge on optimizing these two aspects of the project. Missteps can lead to expensive setbacks, product defects, and lower profits.
Regardless of application, injection-molded parts and products are expected to perform to stringent quality and regulatory standards.
Ensuring successful outcomes requires application of scientific molding principles by experienced injection molders and trained engineering teams during development and production.