The world is full of creative people with creative ideas, but sometimes they lack the knowledge needed to bring those ideas to fruition. New crowd sourcing websites like Kickstarter and Quirky can help entrepreneurs refine their products and raise capital but what happens when these designers and engineers want to take their ideas to market? They need to determine the processes required to manufacturer their invention.
If the project requires plastic parts, they may be a good fit for the injection molding process. Known for its ability to mold large quantities to exacting standards, injection molding is the choice of many entrepreneurs and OEMs.
Getting an injection molding quote is the first step in determining feasibility; however there are many questions that should be answered before an accurate quote can be supplied. Here are the top five questions you should able to provide answers to:
- Are there CAD drawings and or samples of the part to be quoted? To begin to form an accurate quote, the molder needs to know what you are asking them to make. Detailed dimensional drawings provide information on the size and complexity of the part. A sample or prototype can help the molder begin to determine how to maximize the design for manufacturability.
- What is the part intended to do? Are there chemical or environmental issues the part will be exposed to? The injection molder you are working with needs to understand the end-use application of the part. This explanation will help the manufacturer determine how sturdy the part needs to be and what the wear and tear will be over time. The information you provide will help your molder make recommendations on the resins and/or additives needed for your project.
- What quantities are needed? All injection molds are not made alike. If you are interested in smaller quantities or a shorter production run, an aluminum mold might be the best option. If your project requires large quantities over a longer time span, then a hardened steel mold would be the best choice. The upfront cost of the latter option is much greater; however it pays for itself over the life of the tool. Large-volume, precision molders like The Rodon Group specialize in building tools with hardened steel.
- What is the size and complexity of the part? While many plastic parts are made through injection molding, there are other molding processes that can be used to produce a part. You can read about them in a related article. Briefly, smaller parts that are more complex are ideally suited to the infection molding process. Larger parts may be produced with injection molding or compression molding. Very large parts lend themselves to rotational molding while hollow objects, like bottles, are made with blow molding.
- What types of polymers or resins are required for the part? You may need to do some initial fact finding, but having an understanding of the type of plastic material you feel best suits your project gives the molder a starting reference point. In the long-run, a qualified molder will recommend the resin and or additives they feel will provide the best result.
If your project requires manufacturing plastic parts, you need to do a bit of homework prior to getting an accurate quote. By answering these five questions, you should be well on your way to establishing mutually beneficial vendor contacts that can help move your project along. To find a U.S. plastic injection molder, we suggest searching the supplier database on Thomasnet.com. You can search by geography and large-volume versus prototype molding.