Globally, the annual injection-molded plastics market is currently valued at approximately $260 billion, with a projected 5% CAGR over the next five years.1
These substantial numbers validate the continued and increasing reliance on injection-molded solutions for a variety of applications across industries. They also indicate how much the role of a custom injection molder has changed, shifting from general supplier to trusted partner.
Manufacturing processes can be susceptible to inefficiencies. Continuous improvement practices counteract these shortcomings by proactively identifying and eliminating them, thereby improving process and part quality. In turn, quality parts perform better, longer which is a win-win for the injection molder and OEM.
OEMs regularly face an important decision: use a supplier from overseas or partner with a US-based supplier.
Why is this so important? Because if your supplier is somehow incapacitated and deliverables are delayed, your orders go partially or wholly unfulfilled. That has a negative ripple effect on your customers and your reputation. This is evident from Thomas' March Industrial Survey, which saw a reduced desire from US manufacturers to source internationally (43% in February to 34% in March), and increase in those looking to source from North American manufacturers (47% from 43%).
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.
The quality of plastic components is, in part, determined by the injection molder you choose. Properly vetting new, different, or specialized vendors involves qualifying a pool of potential injection molding partners.
As technologies and expectations surrounding complex applications continue to advance, OEMs are seeking deeper and more versatile relationships with custom injection molders. Often, part of the vetting process involves verification that the injection molder holds industry-specific certifications.
In the manufacturing world, “lean” principles reduce inventory and work in process, improve quality, boost productivity, and ultimately lower costs. Lean originated in Japan decades ago and has been readily embraced in manufacturing sectors around the world, especially the automotive industry.
With increasing global competitiveness, lean principles have never been more important for making U.S. companies competitive. One of the most simple yet effective lean tools is value stream mapping, which can be implemented within days and can reap impressive results in a short period of time.
U.S. manufacturing in a variety of industries has gained traction in recent years. Counterbalancing the business uptick many are experiencing, however, is the strain of a workforce in transition.
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.