5 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Plastic Injection Molder

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Are you facing any of these challenges with your current plastic injection molders? If so, perhaps it’s time to make a change:

  • Part quality issues
  • Tooling quality issues
  • On-time delivery issues
  • Capacity constraints
  • Poor communications

Here are five key criteria to keep in mind when you’re selecting and evaluating a new plastic injection molder:

1. A streamlined launch process

In any relationship with a molder, product launch is where things often tend to go wrong:

  • A lack of communication can often cause project delays.
  • The molder may not act with a sense of urgency. They wash their hands of any delays instead of pushing you to keep the project moving.
  • The molder may encounter problems building a quality tool.
  • Material acquisition problems can cause production delays.
  • The molder’s process isn’t rigorous enough to produce quality parts consistently.

That’s why it’s critical that you select a molder with a proven, streamlined launch process. It must not only be technically proficient but must also do an effective job of managing people, time and resources.

New Berlin Plastics’ approach: Our new LaunchLogic software streamlines project communications and creates a positive sense of urgency that keeps projects moving. That results in a 98% on-time performance over 100 open customer projects.

2. Rock-solid production processes

Your ideal molder should have finely-honed, data-driven processes that enable it to produce high-quality parts, consistently. A commitment to continuous improvement is a plus because it ensures that the molder will continue to refine its processes over time.

ISO certification is critical because it provides independent verification that a molder’s production processes conform to a specific level of quality. Preferably, the molder you select should be certified to the newer ISO 9001:2015 standard.

Any molder can say it has excellent processes. But it must back up those claims with data. Don’t be afraid to ask any molder you’re evaluating to demonstrate tangible proof of their processes.

Remember: A molder with top-notch manufacturing processes can help you to drive out as much variability as possible. And that can result in a lower total cost of ownership in the long run.

New Berlin Plastics’ approach: Our Scientific Injection Molding practices allow us to develop extremely low risk, repeatable processes for each part we manufacture.

3. Strong engineering capabilities

Working with a molder that offers extensive engineering capabilities gives you a big advantage. Even if your firm has an abundance of engineering expertise, having another set of trained eyes to review a part design before tooling is built can help you avoid expensive mistakes.

If you don’t have access to engineering resources, a good molder can help you optimize your part and mold designs and select a resin that meets your molding, finishing and application requirements. Look for a molder with Mold Flow capabilities; this will help to drive risk out of tool design, so it functions as expected throughout launch and production.

Here are three cases where New Berlin Plastics helped customers to optimize their parts and create significant value:

  • For a major international watercraft engine company, we were able to drive enough cost out of a part through design and manufacturing optimization that they were able to launch a significant new project. Prior to our involvement, it was slated to be killed because it didn’t meet their cost objectives.
  • For a major international clothing company, we designed a tool that molded 13 versions of a product within a single tool, using a sequential valve gate system. This allowed them to produce every part within one tool rather than building one for each product variation. The significant cost savings from this solution enabled them to move forward with the project.
  • For a major international electrical and electronics company, we partnered with a material compounder to produce a material that allowed marking on a tension knob to be created using a laser that turned a black pigment white. This enabled the tension settings to be indelible and offered cost savings compared to other less durable options they were considering.

New Berlin Plastics’ approach: Our engineering staff can help you optimize your part and mold designs and resin selection to ensure that they meet your requirements at a reasonable price.

4. Seek a partner that utilizes Scientific Injection Molding

Scientific Injection Molding uses data and statistical analysis to create the most effective, robust, repeatable process possible. This means there will be little variation lot-to-lot over the lifetime of that product.

Having a manufacturing process based on the actuals within the mold, rather than a specific molding machine’s specifications and settings, allows the molder to be more agile and produce the same quality part across all machines in that tonnage range.

Scientific Injection Molding also takes into account how a tool is designed and built. Its goal is to produce a tool that will support a program effectively in the long-term, reducing tool repair and maintenance costs.

Finally, Scientific Injection Molding takes into account the design of a part, with the goal of engineering out as much cost and and as many potential failure modes as possible. This drives down the total cost of ownership and improves the efficacy of the part in the field.

New Berlin Plastics’ approach: We combine Scientific Injection Molding with a strong focus on continuous improvement and automation. This proprietary approach enables us to deliver a hassle-free launch process and high-quality parts on a consistent basis.

5. Do your due diligence

When you’re evaluating prospective molding partners, ask for all of the relevant data you need to make a well-informed decision. This should include:

  • ISO metrics
  • On-time delivery metrics
  • How often does the company reinvest in itself?
  • Manufacturing capacity
  • Press tonnage range
  • Quality metrics such as PPM
  • Internal rate of production scrap

Also, look for a company that is financially stable and has a track record of reinvesting in its business. You need a partner that can provide you with a high level of service for years to come.

Why is this important? Because a significant number of plastic injection molders have been purchased by investment firms. Some plan to grow their acquisitions, while others will strip out as much cost as possible prior to reselling the remaining assets. If a highly-leveraged molder can’t service its debt, it could close, causing a major disruption to your supply chain.

New Berlin Plastics’ approach: Our company has reinvested in its operations for many years. During the last several years, that has culminated in our new leadership driving a reinvention of our operations to focus more heavily on the needs of our customers.

As part of this major initiative, we recently developed a new web-based communication and collaboration tool, LaunchLogic, which streamlines the project launch and production processes. It has proven to be so effective that its current track record is 98% on-time performance in new product launches.

Conclusion

When it comes to injection molding, simply picking the provider which offers the lowest price for a job is not going to generate the best results. Most of the time, molders who present a lowball quote are cutting corners somewhere so they can still make money on the project. That creates unwanted risk for you, both in terms of part quality (which can affect your brand’s reputation) and supply chain integrity (expensive delays in your new product launch).

For best results, select the molder who has the design, engineering, launch and production capabilities and processes. That approach will help to ensure a positive, hassle-free relationship and top-quality parts, delivered at a reasonable cost, every time.

Contact New Berlin Plastics today to discuss your next project.

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