The electronics industry is huge. You can walk through any store, shop anywhere online, and look around most of the rooms in your home to find something electronic. Home appliances, gaming equipment, computers, cell phones, audio equipment, and that doesn’t start with every application in the military and defense realm. Each application can be similar, but also have very different functional and durability requirements. Do you have a custom application for injection molding, but not sure what you need for your new electronic project? Let’s look at what the electronics industry requires for functionality, durability, and vanity applications with today’s technology.
What Does the Electronic Industry Require?
- Dimensional Stability – Electronics can be very intricate, which requires dimensional stability for components to fit with precision. Each individual component has critical dimensions that it must stay within in order to fit with the other components. That includes being too large, too small, and being the correct shape to correctly fit with the other components in an electronic assembly. Imagine trying to put together blocks that don’t fit. The complete assembly doesn’t work together, and that can stop a manufacturing line or your customer from using your product all together.
- High Volumes – One of the advantages of electronics is their need for high volumes. Once injection molding tools are created, they can produce hundreds of components every hour and millions of parts in a year. Most parts inside of electronics are common, and being able to produce them quickly is a requirement.
- Economical Cost – Injection molding is meant to be an economical process. The challenge is continually producing components faster and cheaper. Higher volumes can go hand in hand with economical cost as one initial set-up of tooling and molding parameters can run for hours or days producing an extreme amount of parts with low cost.
- Color Harmony – Your design must include some color to stay competitive in the electronic marketplace. That may be as simple as monochromatic black and gray, or could include wild blues, reds, and yellows. Whatever your design intent includes, your injection moldings must meet the intent and work together correctly for visual appeal. Changing process parameters, such as increasing or decreasing temperature and pressure, can affect the end color of your product. There are also different ways to color the plastic resin, which may be a pre-colored resin from a resin manufacturer or a blended resin you complete at the molding facility. Both can achieve the same color with a slightly different way to create the resin, which can affect the overall cost of each component.
What Can Injection Molding Offer the Electronics Industry?
- Low Weight – Plastic injection molding can create lightweight enclosures to house your components. Think of smart phones and laptops for simple enclosures that are common in the electronics industry. Plastic injection molding offers a competitive product with durability among other positive characteristics.
- Design Flexibility – There are many options for manufacturing components: stamping, welding, assembly with fasteners, injection molding, and more. Injection molding offers competitive design flexibility to produce complex shapes without boundaries. That can include more durability, less work input, and less cost.
- Reduced Waste – Many manufacturing options produce waste, such as chips in machining or cutoffs in stamping. Injection molding offers less waste as gates and sprues are only needed to form the complete part. Many resins offer the ability to be recycled back into the raw materials for little to no waste that needs to be disposed of.
- Insulation opportunities – Electronics face a tough environment, whether that is aboard a sea vessel, combat, or just gaming in your living room. They typically need to be watertight to prevent moisture damaging the internal electronics. They also may need to protect circuit boards, resistors, and capacitors from rogue electrical current. Injection molded products can offer water protection and insulation from heat and corrosion from the external environment.
How Custom Can Electronics Be with Injection Molding?
Injection molding does have its limits, but the imagination of the designer can overcomes most barriers. The current technology to design injection molds can incorporate various resins like Polycarbonate, ABS, Polyphenylene, Silicone, PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), and more. Secondary process with a turn-key supplier can also include ultrasonic welding, product marking such as Pad Printing, Laser Etching, or Hot Stamping, tapping/drilling, and general assembly.
With the technology and engineered resins currently available, it may be a better question to ask what can’t made with custom injection molding. Injection molding can utilize metal, plastic, rubber, and glass as the molten material, which means almost anything can be made by injection molding. At SEA-LECT Plastics we utilize plastic injection molding to make drink tumblers, outdoor adventure gear, military and automotive products, and even musical instruments.
Injection molding has distinct advantages, but choosing which manufacturing option is best for your new project may be hard to decide. If you need advice on a future project, SEA-LECT Plastics is here to help. We have an elite team that designs for injection molding, rapid prototyping, and produces world-class products under the same roof. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to offering support and advice on your next project.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.