Managing the total cost of an industrial or consumer new product development (NPD) project lies in balancing the bottom line with needs.
While choosing a low-cost plastic injection molder seems like the path of least resistance (and least cost), this supplier may not take into account all long-term soft costs: designing for quality, speed to market, and risk reduction.
Successful custom injection molding requires process management that’s guided by expertise and precision timing. Tool and process engineers are front-and-center in the product and tool design phases, ultimately making decisions and guiding the steps necessary to ensure consistent and repeatable manufacturability of defect-free injection molded parts.
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.
The impact of the widening skills gap is of ongoing concern for manufacturers. The 2018 Deloitte skills gap and future of work in manufacturing study reports that the average time to fill skilled production worker positions jumped from 70 days to 93 days between 2015 and 2018, surpassed only by finding engineers, researchers, and scientists which bounced from 94 days to 118 days over the same time period.
Since the type and characteristics of an injection molding machine influence project outcomes, you may think equipment selection is best left to the injection molder.
Undoubtedly a molder’s input is key in aligning projects and injection molding machines. However, familiarizing yourself with machine basics will help you make better design choices, more accurately forecast project costs and production times, and even guide you to the injection molding partner best equipped to meet your needs.
Injection molding is a complex, dynamic system with multiple, interacting factors—all of which impact performance, cost, and quality. One of these factors is the injection molding machine tonnage calculation, also known as the clamping force.
Injection-molded and blow-molded plastic parts are so pervasive in everyday life that the two processes are sometimes thought of as interchangeable. While the two may be used in an individual application — perhaps a blow-molded fluid reservoir is attached to a custom injection-molded medical device — injection molding and blow molding serve different purposes and markets.
An increased speed to market is a distinct competitive advantage, but making speed your first priority can jeopardize injection molding process efficiencies — and product performance.
Accelerating speed to market and upholding quality doesn’t need to be an "either or" proposition. Early in the design phase, seek out an injection molding partner that thinks and delivers beyond the standard injection molding process. If your ultimate goals include preventing costly rework, and eliminating defects and unanticipated product failure, look for an injection molder with expertise in mold filling analysis, scientific molding, and other time and cost saving process methodologies.
Manufacturers tasked with making products that serve a wide range of functional and aesthetic purposes often turn to multi-material injection molding for solutions – more specifically, to insert molding and overmolding. Since the two processes bear some similarities they’re often thought of as interchangeable, but there are some key differences.