More and more manufacturing plastic businesses look at low volume manufacturing in order to cater to a much more demanding customer base these days. Customer expectations have reached new heights and going for lower volume allows businesses to explore new products and markets with less risk. How do you do low volume injection molding in today’s plastics manufacturing industry? In this wiki article, let us explore the advantages and disadvantages of low volume plastic injection molding and why it is relevant in this industry.
While 3D printing is getting more advanced, it is still not feasible to affordably make plastic parts with the desired characteristics at a reasonable speed and at reasonable cost. This might be a good option in the future, but for now injection molding remains the best choice. Read here more on possible future trends for small scale plastics production.
Why Go for Low Volume Injection Molding?
Plastics manufacturing is a fast-paced business model wherein even small up to mid-sized business are expected to release their plastic products into the market at a fast rate. However, plastics production is not a quick process as it is a thoroughly complex process to begin with. The demand of the plastic market totally contradicts the nature of its production which leaves plastic company in the middle adjusting to these factors.
Depending on the plastic custom parts design, each design requires an injection mold customized to achieve the right tolerance, finish and prove its functionality. Injection molds also take time to be created and most small batch plastic manufacturing companies simply order their plastic molds from other companies to cut down on expenses. Depending on the complexity of the mold design, it may take 2 weeks up to 3 months to create the mold which is unacceptable in a fast-paced industry.
Low volume injection molding is the perfect reply to the current problems small batch plastic manufacturing companies face in the industry. This option shortens lead time for quicker production and most importantly, they can now be versatile when it comes to the budget required for their business. Low volume injection molding is a cost-effective method perfect for small up to mid-sized plastic manufacturers. However, even major plastic companies have picked up this option to give their businesses flexibility on other aspects of manufacturing.
The Process of Low Volume Injection Molding
Much like regular plastics production, low volume injection molding generally follows the same process wherein it requires a mold, a 2D or 3D design and then use processing methods such as wire cutting and polishing in order to create the final mold. It is basically traditional plastic manufacturing except the mold use aluminum or lower grates steel which don’t have to withstand hundreds of thousands times of injection press as production mold. This is not only faster but also significantly cheaper.
Molds made out of aluminum or pre-hardened steel of 10,000 to 100,000 molding cycles which is more than enough for the needs of low volume plastic injection molding. The manufacturing process is greatly shortened since steel do not have to be hardened. Also, working around soft steel is also better compared to dealing with hardened steel, which makes the entire process easier and faster. Low volume injection molding is a cost-effective method also referred to as rapid tooling or plastic prototype tooling.
Advantages of Low Volume Plastic Manufacturing
The biggest reason on why plastic manufacturers choose low volume injection molding compared to massive manufacturing is the fact they can greatly reduce business costs. Hardened steel production mold is generally a huge investment and small businesses may not be able to quickly adapt to the fast-paced environment they are in if they are locked in on a tight budget. This option gives them better flexibility and allows them to work around their finances yet stay competent.
Another great advantage of low volume plastics manufacturers is the short lead time which leads to quicker production. Unlike massive plastics production, low volume plastic parts may only take 3-4 weeks for them to be ready. This allows companies to take their plastic products on to the market faster and be able to get some returns right away from their business investment.
Last but not the least, there is no disparity at all when it comes to the quality of plastics produced through low volume injection molding compared to harden steel production method. Low volume plastic parts are simply as good as traditional plastics and are not subpar unlike one would normally expect due to the cheaper and conventional approach.
The main drawback of low volume injection molding is that it is a method not designed for large mass production quantities. It is not advisable if your plastics company is expected to produce thousands of units at a fast rate. As the name suggests, low volume plastic manufacturing initially accustomed for small up to mid-sized businesses.