Maintaining tight tolerances is a top priority for many complex injection molded parts and components. Understanding the nuances of resins and how they impact tight tolerances and overall product performance can be complicated. It's essential that an injection molder's engineers be looped into the project early — ideally in the design phase — to weigh in on resin selection. Otherwise, certain material characteristics that could affect tight tolerances and, ultimately, influence outcomes may be inadvertently overlooked.
For many OEMs, multi-material injection molding is a smart and versatile solution to producing complex components and parts. The ability to incorporate multiple polymers, metals and other non-plastics into the molding process to accommodate threaded holes, inserts, lenses, etc., simplifies assembly and generally enhances end-product performance.
Not taking the time to properly determine shrink rate can have a big impact on the quality of an injection molded part's geometry, performance, and appearance.
To facilitate this calculation, materials suppliers typically provide shrink rate numbers based on ASTM Standard D955 and a .125-inch thick plaque with a specific gating size and location. Although a good place to start, this value is usually not accurate enough for many products, especially critical, highly complex parts.
Quality is an important benchmark in all aspects of an injection molding project, and rightfully so. Producing high-quality plastic parts is always the goal, but how often do you stop to consider what a supplier misstep, a materials snafu or a process miscalculation could do to a project overall? Poor quality — in any form and to any degree — can have far-reaching impact. The solution is partnering with an experienced injection molder that can help you keep quality at the forefront in every aspect of a project:
Not surprisingly, the medical industry in the United States is one of the most heavily regulated. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has a strict protocol around medical device tracking, particularly Class II and Class III devices that are intended for life support away from a primary care facility or whose failure would likely cause serious adverse health consequences.
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.
Cooling is one of the most critical parts of the injection molding process. Not only is it the longest part of the process — taking up more than 80 percent of the cycle time — but it's not smart to cut corners when it comes to cooling. In order to achieve precise, tight tolerances, the cooling rate must be carefully controlled — not rushed to completion.
Manufacturers are always looking for practical ways to streamline product design, engineering and production, leading many to supplier consolidation. Reasons for this make good business sense, and include reduced development time and associated costs, improved logistics, and a single point of contact.
In the case of custom injection molding, however, even these compelling business reasons may not be enough to overcome the difficulty of finding a single supplier that possesses the injection molding expertise and capabilities to optimize your process and meet your needs.
There is no question that manufacturing complex parts takes injection molding to a much higher level. More knowledge, skill and expertise are required, as well as sophisticated infrastructure, equipment and environmental controls.
The degree of specialization surrounding complex part molding means that not every molder is proficient in or can even offer this service. Here are four key areas to explore to ensure a molder's capabilities align with your injection molding needs.