There are many variables to consider when designing and producing injection-molded plastic parts. A knowledgeable and effective molding partner can help you reach a common-sense solution that helps you to save money – without sacrificing part quality.
Here is a closer look at four key variables you need to think about when selecting an injection molding partner.
1. Sourcing the mold
As an OEM, you have many options when it comes to sourcing a mold tool for your project. One common money-saving strategy is to utilize an overseas tooling supplier. The downside of this approach is that it can add a significant amount of lead time and risk to your project.
Poor quality tooling made of inferior steel is a common issue with overseas suppliers. Typically, this compromises the tool’s longevity. If you plan to keep a part in production over a long period of time, saving a few dollars on the front end of a project could end up costing you a lot more in the long run. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure that the overseas mold builders your supplier is working with are high quality and operate with integrity.
Whether you select domestic or overseas tooling, one way to save money is to bundle multiple tools into one package. This should enable you to negotiate a better per-tool price with the toolmaker.
What volume of parts do you plan to produce? If you need a smaller number of parts, you may be able to save money by having your tooling made of aluminum instead of steel.
A common-sense approach to your tooling needs will help you to balance part cost, quality and risk.
2. Designing the mold tool
Mold design presents a major opportunity to reduce material use. Solid walls in your part designs can be replaced by latticed walls that won’t warp and will maintain the structural integrity of the part. This not only helps you save money on material but also speeds processing because thinner walls cool faster than solid ones.
Production volume should be a major consideration in tool design. The annual demand and life of the product should be considered when designing a tool. It’s important to ensure that the material used for your mold is matched with the demands that will be placed on it throughout its production life.
Today’s additive tool design technology enables toolmakers to vary the density of the tool steel to add strength in key areas that need it. Conformal cooling channels can also be built into additively-designed tools to help them cool faster and speed the production of your parts.
3. Material selection
The material you select for your parts can have a significant impact on their cost and quality.
In creating recommendations for our customers, we consider multiple factors, including the application requirements and the processability of the material. Our Design for Manufacturing (DFM) process helps us to identify potential issues with part and mold designs, material selection and molding processes early in the launch process, so we can mitigate or eliminate them.
Working with an injection molder that has engineers on staff with material science backgrounds is a big plus. They can help you select a material that meets all your part’s performance requirements but also can be processed efficiently and consistently, with a minimum of tool wear.
4. Minimize secondary processes
Secondary processes such as painting, welding, pad printing and chrome plating can also add significant cost to your parts. To make matters worse, many injection molders don’t have well-defined, efficient processes in place to manage secondary processes. This freewheeling approach can lead to cost overruns and quality problems.
During the last several years, New Berlin Plastics has developed a deep level of expertise in secondary processes. We can help you to develop elegant and cost-effective solutions to your finishing needs.
When selecting a plastic injection molder, don’t just look for a supplier with relevant technical expertise. Seek one that also consistently applies best-in-class management practices and continuous improvement methodologies to the business of injection molding.
This leadership mindset has deep implications, affecting everything from who it hires, investments in people and technology and the processes it uses to build a stable, responsive, customer-focused business.
That’s our focus at New Berlin Plastics, and it’s what sets us apart from other plastic injection molders. A great example is our new, proprietary LaunchLogic process, which has enabled us to achieve a 98% on-time launch track record over 100 simultaneous open customer projects. Learn all about it in our new LaunchLogic eGuide.
At New Berlin Plastics, we’re continually reinvesting in our business to meet and exceed your expectations. Why not contact us about your next plastic injection molding project?