People who are new to the plastic manufacturing business often do not fully understand the entire product development process for plastics. They would assume if they already have a perfect design then they can right away move on to plastic injection molding to get their product done. Unfortunately, there are a lot of prerequisites to the process which include production files needed by the plastics manufacturer.
Plastic manufacturing is a complex process. There are a lot of things that goes into the entire process aside from concept/design and plastic injection molding. In this wiki article, we will focus on pre-production files needed before moving on to plastic injection molding. These essential files are all needed before the manufacturers can jumpstart on production. Here are the essential files necessary for plastic injection molding.
Requirements for Plastic Injection Molding
1. CAD software file
A computer-generated file created through a CAD software is needed by plastic manufacturers. With the help of design experts, your potential product will be fully visualized through CAD plastic designs. CAD drawing services can take regular sketches and concepts into a full 3D model through the CAD software file and eventually turn this into a physical prototype. Make sure that you consider the differences for the file formats. STL files are common and useful for 3D prints, but you should ideally have STP or STEP files for making molds. You can check out and practise with files that other people created, like the example designs here.
2. Injection mold tool
The injection mold tool also called by industry experts as novel prototype bottle is designed to fully manifest the CAD plastic design. Injection mold tools vary depending on the manufacturing stage that you are in. Most of the time, pre-production injection mold tools are made out of aluminum and this is advisable for low quantity manufacturers since it cost-effective. On the other hand, mass-production plastic manufacturers use pre-production injection mold tools made out of steel most especially for solidworks plastics.
Most plastic manufacturing companies these days take advantage of the MUD (Master Unit Die) mold tool to further simplify this complex process. The MUD tool is a metal insert used in casting plastic parts instead of using solid block tools. The concept of using aluminum, steel and MUD tools in plastics production will be discussed in a separate article but for now let us simply brush the surface.
3. Injection molding machine
The injection molding machine is the apparatus responsible for the plastic injection molding process and depending on its size and specifications, it can produce molds and casting plastic parts quickly and in large amounts. All of these casting plastic parts and assemblies have to be verified for product testing processes and be presented as sales samples to show clients and customers of how they expect your product to be.
Lead Time for Plastic Injection Molding
With an injection molding machine, production for plastic parts or products can be extremely fast wherein casting plastic parts can be manufactured at a rate of up to fifty plastic parts per minute. You can further increase production line efficiency by combining different plastic parts out of a single mold tool. It is much like hitting multiple birds out of a stone. Multiple cavities can be maximized by simplifying the geometry aspect of the product and utilizing technologies such as the hot runner.
With these advanced technologies and techniques, one can produce thousands of casting plastic parts in days out of plastic injection molding. The only time consuming aspects of the process is parts assembly, project coordination and sometimes design conception because there can be a lot of back and forth for revisions most especially if there are a lot of brains involved in design creation. It’s get a bit more complicated if you have very small quantities. You should look into 3D printing then, that you can even do for missing IKEA plastic parts.
How Long does it Take to Finish a Plastic Injection Molding Project
Summarizing production lead time for plastic manufacturing would depend whether you are pertaining to pre-production plastics or mass manufactured solidworks plastics. On average, most plastic manufacturers can produce pre-production prototypes in a 2-3 weeks. Pre-production plastics consist of 500-1000 casting plastic parts and the number could be altered for the final product material. When it comes to mass manufactured plastics, it takes months to finish them since it usually involves the creation of molds and thousands of cycles of casting plastic parts.
Assembly in mass manufactured plastics tends to consume the most amount of time in the custom manufacturing process. Even if there is an injection molding machine which can help speed up the process, there are still work involved which can only be done manually such as assembly. It is best advised that you design your plastic parts in a way it will be easy to assemble. This tip will help you save time in the production process which translates to business money in the end.
Before spending a large amount of money on a multiple cavity mold and for plastic injection molding, make sure the design and engineering are already perfect and that the product has already been tested for its final production material. Pre-production prototyping is necessary in all of manufacturing and not only in plastics.
Plastic injection molding is a complicated process and newbies in the plastics business may need to take some time before they fully grasp this concept. Aside from the complexities, the length of time to finish the molding process simply adds up to the complication. However, this means the concept cannot be understood. It just takes time to do research and actual experience before you fully understand the concept. If in doubt, print your design first to test.
The pre-production files mentioned above are the prerequisites to plastic injection molding and plastic molding simulation. These are the requirements you need to secure before you move into the actual molding process. Without these pre-production files, it would be impossible to start working with any plastic injection molding company.