Some injection molders claim to provide custom services, but the industry lacks a clear definition of what “custom” really means — resulting in some manufacturers contracting with molders that are woefully unqualified to accurately produce highly specialized designs. Just because a molder can facilitate development of an original tool doesn’t constitute a truly custom service (or ensure a desirable outcome). Many of these molders are limited to producing simplistic designs and lack the ability to engineer complex plastic parts with precise specifications and tight tolerances.
It’s vital to evaluate how an injection molder will align with your project needs. A part used in a medical or military application as compared with a toy or food container, for example, demands the attention and expertise of injection molders that are truly experienced in specialized complex design, engineering and support. Plastic components used in such applications must adhere to strict specifications and compliance requirements.
Custom Injection Molding Defined
What’s most important when considering “custom” injection molders is evaluating the level of complexity of your project and letting that dictate the level of customization you need — not only from the tooling itself, but from front-to-back in working with a molder (e.g., engineering and design support, scientific methods, analytical tools, plastic part design, and molding process technologies).
Custom plastic injection molding relies on multiple scientific methods, analytical tools and molding process technologies to meet the precision and performance requirements for complex plastic components and applications. While faster time to market is a definite consideration for custom injection molding projects, it isn’t pursued at the expense of part design, material selection, mold design and process control. True custom injection molders use these key stages of product development to inform choices concerning the appropriate processes — scientific molding, insert molding, multi-shot molding, overmolding, etc. — to accurately achieve product design and end-use goals.
A Real-life Example of Custom Molding
Take, for example, the experience a Kaysun customer in the industrial personal protective equipment industry had in developing a life-saving, handheld gas-detection device. The plastic electronics housing needed to protect delicate instrumentation and aesthetically align with previously established branding. It was a tall order for an offshore vendor that, ultimately, couldn’t consistently produce and deliver quality parts to the required specifications. Left in an unenviable position by the commodity injection molder, the customer reached out to Kaysun to rectify the situation. Why? Producing specialized, complex solutions is commonplace for Kaysun.
We worked closely with the customer’s engineering team on component design and development, introducing moldflow analysis to identify and correct molding and materials issues, and to ensure compatibility with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) overmold. Custom capabilities also allowed for mid-production adjustments to include a third overmold material and color — all without compromising material flow, adhesion or shut-off functionality. Outcomes achieved by custom injection molding were decidedly different than those delivered by the commodity molder.
Promises vs. Results
Commodity injection molders will often promise fast production at attractive price points, but only a molder experienced in specialized custom injection molding processes and technologies can offer true value in time and cost savings, and provide consistent, successful results.
Learn more about how a custom injection molding partner can ultimately help you reduce costs, optimize functionality and improve aesthetics in our Complex Injection Molding for a Competitive Advantage white paper.