The more OEMs learn about plastic overmolding, the more they want to use this injection molding process to solve application-specific challenges ranging from soft-touch or stylish consumer products to field-use devices that require extra protection and user-friendly features. Not only does overmolding improve functionality, performance, and aesthetics, it lowers total production costs — which is pretty rare these days.
Overmolding is a value-added injection molding method for improving plastic and metal substrate performance and aesthetics. While seemingly simple, the process has a number of underlying complexities that must be carefully considered to ensure your overmolding project meets all goals and expectations.
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.
Overmolding is a unique injection molding process that results in a seamless combination of multiple materials into a single part or product. It typically includes a rigid, plastic-base component overlaid with a thin, pliable, rubber-like thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) exterior layer or other materials using either a single-shot (insert molding) or two-shot (multiple-shot molding) technique.
Custom injection molding is a viable solution for many projects, but there’s often hesitation in using it because of confusion about which material matches the job. While “thermoplastic” and “thermoset” sound similar and both are appropriate for a wide range of applications, the material properties of these two resin categories and how they behave during processing ultimately reveal the best choice for your injection molding project.
Insert molding is an injection molding technique that can provide effective solutions for a wide range of design and production needs.
The first step is custom-building a tool to accept a solid component or product (insert). The insert is placed into the tool, and thermoplastic resin is injected into the tool cavity, coating the insert/product in a smooth layer of plastic. After cooling, the tool is opened and the product is removed and inspected.
Constantly evolving, the medical industry requires OEMs to be forward-thinking in providing solutions that address trends and challenges. One such OEM, Smiths Medical, sought to change the design of its existing pulse oximetry portfolio to include enhanced functionality and improved manufacturability. At the project’s inception, they partnered with the U.S.-based injection molding experts at Kaysun to help refine and ultimately accomplish their goals.
Medical grade polymers are quickly becoming the preferred material for a broad range of surgical devices. In certain applications, the robust mechanical properties of medical molding polymers allow complete removal of metal from the surgical device design. In other instances, plastic and metal components can combine to create an enhanced product, with attributes that would not be possible in either an all-metal or an all-plastic device.
The use of overmolding is popular across many manufacturing industries, from consumer products to medical devices, but possibly in no category more noticeable than portable devices. While in some applications, overmolding may seem to merely enhance the aesthetics of a device at first glance — a contrasting color or texture — the use of overmolding on portable devices intended for critical use is highly technical and sometimes highly regulated.