Generally speaking, Design for Manufacturability (DfM) — or Design for Manufacturing — 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. Problems are identified and addressed early in the product development process, preventing costly issues that could impact manufacturability: raw materials selection, tolerances, and secondary processing.
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.
Custom injection molding is a go-to for OEMs across a range of industries because of design and engineering precision, production repeatability, and cost-effective solutions.
Injection molders understand that consistently delivering defect-free parts and products to these standards is a top priority and a true value-add to their OEM partnerships.
Quality assurance begins in the design phase. Engineers are faced with many decisions, but among the most important are those that impact the end of the injection molding process — what has to happen to ensure the plastic part ejects cleanly?
Insert molding is a process that requires an insert — typically metal — to be pre-placed in the tool for injected plastic to flow around. Encapsulating the insert with plastic creates a single molded plastic piece that’s generally stronger than one created using secondary assembly.
Insert molding can be accomplished through two methods:
- Manual insert loading: The generally more cost-effective way to approach very low-volume applications or extremely complex part geometries
- Automated insert molding: A better choice for part consistency. It minimizes human error, improves efficiencies, and ensures optimal cycle times.
Securing an insert in plastic requires precision and a thorough knowledge of how each individual substrate reacts to conditions during the injection molding process.
Shrink rates for injection molded plastic parts vary depending on the materials used andwall thickness. Designing uniform wall thickness offers substantial shrink rate control; on the other hand, non-uniform walls can lead to large pressure drops during filling, significant differences in shrink rates, and internal stresses within the injection molded part that could cause warpage or similar defects.
Manufacturers cannot afford to lose any time in getting their products to market. Advances in technology come rapidly, ratcheting up competition for market share. To ensure success, products must be designed and produced with ultimate precision and efficiency. That efficiency depends on eliminating production delays caused by inconsistencies in the manufacturing process.
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.