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.
When it comes to injection molding partners, OEMs have two options: commodity or custom. In essence, the choice is that of pared-down services or comprehensive problem-solving. Both approaches have their merits, and the application often drives the decision.
However, if framed as a value-add for an OEM beyond immediate project need, custom injection molders often win the day. Their advanced capabilities and in-house services streamline supply chains — a quality and cost management win for OEMs — but there’s more. When a sophisticated process like plastic injection molding assembly is called for, custom injection molders are instrumental in buying down risk.
Medical device design engineers often make allowances for the impact that the molding process has on plastic part manufacturability. They carefully consider a variety of design factors like the materials chosen, the part shape and features, surface finish, and the properties of the tool itself. So, why involve an injection molder early in the medical device development phase?
Involving an experienced injection molder early in the design process safeguards against adverse outcomes that a designer may not have anticipated.
Several industrial sectors are converting metal components to plastic to gain efficiencies in cost, weight, performance, aesthetics, and durability. While these are compelling reasons to consider plastic versus metal, the process isn’t necessarily right for all industrial applications.
A comprehensive feasibility analysis can help you determine if your project is suitable for metal-to-plastic conversion by evaluating it from three fundamental perspectives: design, manufacturability, and return on investment.
Cycle time directly influences plastic part cost and capacities, so keeping it as low as possible is the overarching goal of engineers and project managers. When getting quotes from various injection molders for plastic parts, they may be confronted with divergent cycle time estimates, calling accuracy and the molder’s capabilities into question.
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.
Among today’s manufacturers, both 3D printing and plastic injection molding are viable options for producing complex plastic parts and components. While originally considered competing technologies, these techniques are now each largely recognized as having unique advantages and can even be used together to help optimize production efficiency.
Each new plastic injection molding project has three inherent goals: performance for the customer; production efficiency for the manufacturer; and, reliability for the end user.
These goals are reasonable. The challenge lies in accomplishing all three within a desired timeframe and budget.
To do so, injection molding plastics engineers turn to Design of Experiments (DOE) to identify flaws during the process design phase that might otherwise derail project success.
When it comes to remaining competitive in the global marketplace, speed matters. Manufacturers want injection molded parts that deliver the most product functionality at the lowest cost — and they want the parts quickly to get to market first and fastest.
Injection molders understand the pressure manufacturers are under. They're also attuned to how injection molding design, engineering, and production expertise can greatly speed up development time.