Budget is one of the most important factors a manufacturer faces with getting a product to market as quickly as possible. Designing a plastic part for manufacturability involves considerations that can ultimately have a significant impact on cost. Whether you are in the initial design phase, prototyping or production, controlling injection molding costs requires analyzing of various factors. Here are a few tips to help you control plastic injection molding costs:
- Optimise mould design
The key here is to collaborate with your manufacturer. Create a project plan and include regular reviews with the manufacturer not just on the form of the mould but on any cost-saving elements too. If there are savings to be made, your machinist will know about them. Collaboration ensures that you not only make the best use of your sub-contractors but also reduces the possibility of mistakes being incorporated into the final design.
- Use designs that minimize materials.
Features like ribs and gussets can make a part stronger while using less material. Even a small reduction multiplied by the many parts in a production run and potentially many production runs can add up to big savings.
- Material Selection.
Many resins can be injection molded, but it is important to consider design intent and particularly what the piece needs to accomplish. For example, does the part need to be firm or pliable? Will the part be exposed to elements like extreme heat or cold? What safety factors should be considered? The newest, most innovative materials may not be the best fit for your particular part – and may add more cost to the overall project. Working with a design engineer who is familiar with resin characteristics and behaviors when molded, will help you pick the material that best fits your needs and may save you critical time and budget in the long run.
- Moulding temperatures.
The injection moulding process has to be carried out with the feedstock in a semi-molten state so that it can flow into all the required areas. If you have a simpler design, you could reduce the feed temperature, which lowers heating costs and helps reduce cycle time. This can also apply to the moulding pressures used as a less complex design might require a lower pressure to force the material in, reducing stress and wear on the internal components, and maximising its usable life.
- Produce as many parts at a time as possible.
Spreading setup costs over a large number of parts results in a lower cost-per-piece.
- Minimize secondary processes.
Secondary processes like custom inserts, painting, etc. are necessary in some cases. In others, however, changes to design or materials can accomplish the same goals without the additional setup fees. The same is true for mechanisms. For example, many types of mechanisms, like living hinges, can be created in the molding process rather than after the fact.
- Only add processes when needed.
Much as textured or otherwise customized part finishes shouldn’t be designed into the mold unless necessary, other finishing processes should also be avoided unless they are integral to the function and purpose of your product. For instance, many resins do not possess an attractive finished color, so you may be tempted to paint or otherwise “dress up” the finished product. Unless aesthetic appearance is a critical quality for your end-user, however, the time and cost of this added process is often not worth the investment. The same goes for processes such as sandblasting or other appearance-focused methods.
- Choose the right injection mould making company.
Plastic injection molders tend to have specific areas of expertise. Finding one whose specialty meets your needs ensures that you won’t be paying more to have a molder modify its processes to accommodate your requirements. Cost is always a concern in manufacturing, but choosing the best product partner should be of equal concern, if not more. The best partner will offer you advice on how to bring your new product to market at the lowest cost and shortest time.
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