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Up-Front Collaboration Helps the Environment, Too

Posted by Al Timm on Jun 24, 2014 2:19:30 PM
Al Timm

There are plenty of great production reasons for getting together with your injection molding team during the earliest design stages to discuss design for manufacturability (DFM). It is also a great way to help the environment.

We all have a stake in doing whatever we can to protect our natural resources, water, and air. That’s why it is important for manufacturers to be proactive in reducing their consumption of natural resources, production of non-recyclable waste, and carbon footprint—which DFM helps us achieve.

Up-front DFM collaboration with your injection molder brings the best minds together to come up with the best design for your product, as well as the best way to manufacture it.

Take, for example, product design. DFM and computer modeling can identify the thinnest part wall thickness and weight that can still achieve the top performance objectives for that part. This is important—not just for reducing material costs and product weight, but also for keeping you from going with design specs that call for more plastic than is actually required. By using only the amount of material you really need, you conserve valuable, petroleum-based resources and reduce waste/scrap that might be sent to the landfill. You will also be spending less energy to produce the part—another plus for the environment (and the budget).

Injection molding is also a good way to consolidate multiple parts into one complex part (especially converting multiple metal parts to a single, more complex plastic part). Eliminating the extra steps involved in molding separate parts and assembling them also reduces energy and material costs.

A perfectly designed part or product will minimize the amount of scrap that might be created and sent to the landfill. It also reduces the number of sampling iterations required to finalize part design—each iteration can produce hundreds of parts and hours of machine time that are essentially wasted, consuming energy and creating scrap. Scientific molding is especially valuable for designing the best production process early on, which minimizes the number of iterations needed.

When you use DFM up front in the design process, the result is a highly efficient, streamlined production process that maximizes product quality and process repeatability, with a high level of accuracy. This means shorter cycle times, no retooling, less rework and scrap, fewer production problems, and lower energy costs—all of which benefit the environment.

DFM, when used properly, can reduce overall production costs by 10-15 percent. For example, a small reduction in wall thickness (say, from 0.100” to 0.090”) will not greatly affect part performance, but it could decrease material usage by 10 percent, which would have a big impact on cost reduction. Proper DFM will tell you if the 0.010” reduction will hurt the part performance or not.

Ultimately, all these improvements add up. DFM is a straightforward approach that can reap significant environmental rewards for manufacturers, as well as reduce their production costs.

Metal-to-Plastic Conversion: Revolutionizing the Manufacturing Process 

Topics: Injection Molding Process

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