Identifying an injection moulding partner can be quite a task!
Let us look at the basic needs first.
For designing a component in injection moulded plastic, we have to achieve a technically suitable design that functions well. It has to be cost effectively manufactured using various injection moulding processes.
Designing products with moulded plastic components and assemblies is becoming a more attractive option in every sphere of engineering industry.
New, high performance, plastics and injection moulding processes, make this possible. The plastic parts moulded, offer an important combination of flexibility, toughness, and chemical resistance. Coupled with cost effectiveness, long-term performance & for a wide range of applications. There are limitations and not every plastic part designed, can be efficiently injection moulded.
So working with an experienced designer and moulder having many years of experience with high performance plastics and complex projects is important. That way, you can be assured that your moulded components and assemblies are both functional and within an economically viable budget.
The following steps will help you in accomplishing a well designed and functional injection moulded plastic component.
- All technical inputs are required by the designers from the customer to design the part which should meet the critical requirements such as functionality, fitment, aesthetics, etc.
- The design is virtually constructed using high end engineering software. Virtually tested for fitment, mechanical properties and submitted to the customer for review and approval of the design.
- On receiving the feedback from the customer, the design is taken forward to the prototyping stage where the initial parts can be made by 3D printing using various prototyping technologies like SLA, SLS, SLM, FDM etc. These Prototype parts can be checked for fitment, functionality and aesthetics. These parts can be used for initial testing before giving the final approval for mould manufacturing.
- Based on the Prototype, the customer approves the designed part for other details like, parting line, ejector points, injection gate & runner points with which the mould flow analysis is done. Mould design is finalized and the consent from the customer is obtained to take up manufacture the mould.
- The moulds are designed and manufactured using high quality tool steels. Precision machining processes are applied, like, CNC milling and turning, EDM, profile grinding etc. Once the moulds are manufactured, the T-0 trials are planned with the selected raw materials and the samples inspected for dimensions, fitment etc. The T-0 part is submitted to the customer for initial inspection. On receiving the customers report, modifications or corrections if required, are done. The T-1 trial is planned and a sample is re-submitted for approval. Once approved, the mould is now ready, for bulk production.
The selected manufacturing partner shall have the expertise to carry out your vision for your project and needs a reasonable understanding of the function you want the part to fulfil, the circumstances in which it will have to operate (heat, cold, humidity, mechanical force etc), and the quantity of the parts you would require to be produced.
Many plastic injection moulders will meet your requirement of small quantities of 10,000 units per lot or less.
If requirement is for larger quantity, say hundreds of thousands of parts per lot, they should be handled by a high volume plastic injection moulder who is capable & competent of producing many parts quickly and efficiently and consistently.
Your manufacturing partner should provide the services that can help in bringing the part from the drawing board to the moulded part. Identify a partner who can provide feedback early in the design & development stage and whose expertise meets your understanding of the function and volume of your project.
The complexity of the project will have a great impact on the selection of a manufacturing injection moulding partner. The manufacturer you choose shall have vast experience in processing the selected materials and capabilities to satisfy all requirements technically.
Finally the following factors need to be considered when evaluating potential partners for bulk production:
- Do they have proper equipment meeting all standard moulding requirements (i.e. injection molding machines, auxiliary equipment, chillers, dehumidifying oven, hopper dryers, mould temperature controllers, robots, material-handling, automation, etc)
- Do they have the facility for secondary operations like machining, decorating or printing, welding etc.
- Do they have experience running similar projects and components?
- Does the facility satisfy all regulatory requirements (i.e. ISO, FDA, clean room, etc.)
- Does the facility have experience processing the selected resins and materials?
- Does the facility have reliable source of raw material source
- Does the facility have a mould manufacturing and mould maintenance in house.