In theory and practice, industrial automation has been part of the U.S. manufacturing sector for decades. The data-driven world of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has given rise to production lines attended by smart robots and technologies alongside their human counterparts — and a host of benefits. Enhanced injection molding process control, faster production and secondary operations, lower error rates, and safer workers all have some connection to automation.
Requesting injection molding quotes is a standard practice for manufacturers looking to manage the costs associated with a program. Comparing injection molding price estimates may generally answer, “How much does injection molding cost?” It may even lead an OEM to select a molder based upon the bottom line.
However, price point doesn’t necessarily denote value.
Repeatable and reliable part production isn’t a given when a project is first presented to Kaysun.
Well before the injection molding equipment is made ready for a run, experts in the in-house Quality Lab are at work gaining deep insights into the part design, thoroughly examining the part practicalities and potential pitfalls, and identifying areas for improvement. Kaysun project and quality control engineers and those of the customer collaborate to share knowledge, make adjustments, and arrive at the best possible production process, tooling, and application outcome.
Identifying and addressing problems early in the injection molded product development process prevents costly issues that could impact manufacturability: plastics selection, tight tolerances, and secondary operations. Fortunately, two methodologies — DfM and FMEA — help manage injection molding risk.
First, we need to explore the meaning of DfM. Design for Manufacturability (DfM) is the process of consciously and proactively designing products to optimize all facets of manufacturing. It aligns engineering and production in the design phase, ensuring cost and time efficiencies, superior quality, regulatory compliance, and end-user satisfaction.
Maximizing DfM's benefits depends on prioritizing Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) within the larger plastic part analysis to assess risk probability. FMEA is but one example of the technical expertise required to successfully execute DfM for complex applications. It also underscores the importance of partnering with an injection molder experienced in DfM to reap the following benefits.
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.