Have you tried to find a new Injection molding partner that can satisfy every criteria for your new product? There are a lot out there. Their websites look good. They sound like they know the right words for the industry. Do they really know the business inside and out, and can they lead you in the right direction to make sure your new product launches successfully? SEA-LECT Plastics can talk the talk, and walk the walk, and here’s how to find the best blow molding partner for your new product:
Know Your Initial Requirements
Finding a new partner is going to be difficult if you don’t know what you need. There many types of molding available, and your product may just need one specific type. If you have secondary colors, additional parts for an assembly, or a secondary material, you will want to specify this in the initial stages of the relationship. You also will want to have an initial annual production in mind if you’re looking for a long-term partnership. Some molders will only want high volume production; others will be willing and capable of low volume production suited to specific markets. Search multiple options with your initial information to narrow your list down to a handful of options.
Specify Your Specific Materials
There are many resins from which you can choose your product be injected from. You may not have a specific resin in mind, but you can identify what properties or characteristics it should have to suit your product. Your best molding partner should have a thorough knowledge of resin options and be able to discuss the characteristics you need that correlate to the best resin choice. Once the resin has been chosen, your molder should also be able to showcase how they can mold the selection to meet your needs. Process parameters, cycle times, acceptable regrind percentages, and handling of finished goods should be part of the discussion. Pull up a chair and start taking notes.
Know Your Industry Requirements
Your new product will be targeted and specific to one or a handful of industries. Your new partner should have knowledge in every industry you plan to manufacturer for. New partners may be able to show you specific samples of other products they manufacture, how long they’ve been producing for a specific industry, and detail any regulation constraints you may face with your new product.
Invest in Prototyping
Over the past decade, technology is rapid prototyping has come a long way in terms of production time and cost. Your new product will not be perfect after design. It may need small changes to the design, and one quick way to understand what a finished product may look like is to have a rapid prototype made. Your new molding partner should be well versed in rapid prototyping, whether that is through in-house design and production or with another respected local provider that meet your quick turnaround schedule.
Engineering and Design
Finalizing the design of your new product is just the first major hurdle in the development process. The next step will be to create the tooling to injection mold your new product. That may be one large molding die or many that produce complimentary parts of an assembly. Your new molding partner should have an engineering staff that can create every molding die design needed, translate the design to a qualified manufacturing toolmaker, and then create the molds to produce your new product. The finalized design should include the correct tolerances for the material chosen, any specialized gating options required to ensure a quality part, and any surface treatment required.
Facility cleanliness may be a requirement for the industry your product will be sold in, but any facility at the top of the production game will be clean and organized. Your potential molding partner should be able to escort you through their facility on short notice for a simple inspection or tour. You should expect to see all raw material, in-process goods, and finished products labeled, no spills on any kind on the floor, and a safe work environment for staff. Some products may be confidential, and you might not be able to view certain areas in the facility. If that is the case, don’t take that as a red flag. If they are restricting you from a competitor’s product, they will also hold the security of your product in the highest regard. That is a good sign that they are a molder with integrity and established security protocols that enable you to development products without fear of a data breach.
Your new molding partner will mostly likely have a significant amount of staff based on the industries they support, and how large of volume they run every day in business. The key to staff will be their training. A molder with an in-house tool repair and manufacturing operation will have a mix of journeyman tool technicians to interns. A production facility will have assembly technicians, material handling and logistics, operations management, and more. Ask your new molder about their training at each level. Are their tool technicians certified in any way? Have they been through a trade school or local community college program? Have their production associates been through a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) program and understand how to certify equipment daily? The smallest details on training can make a significant impact on quality, cost, and time with your new product. You want the peace of mind that your new molding partner has every detail covered.
Quality System Certification
Any molding partner that you work with should have a quality system established. Having a system in place indicates that they have a measure to define what is and is not acceptable with their operations.
The ISO9001 standard is a quality management system that is globally recognized, and should be a criteria to add to your new partner. Over the last two decades the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has continued to refine the ISO9001 standard to meet the growing demands and evolution of the global economy as more organizations and countries focus on improvement. The standard was last updated in 2015. If your new partner is ISO9001 certified, ask which revision they are certified to. Being certified to an older revision shouldn’t automatically drop them from consideration of a new partnership. They may not have a current business need to update to the latest level. The best question to ask will be what their future plan is for the certification. Will they update in the future, or stay with their current level?
Collaborate on a Written Quote
Your new molding partner should be offering a written quote including every service you need. Engineering, prototyping, mold design and fabrication, and yes daily production. Throughout the development process, there should be a lot of discussion on the progress of the partnership and any changes that may be needed on the product or the team involved. Your new partner should welcome your input, but don’t expect them to always agree with your assessments and recommendations. The establishment of the quote should be a team effort, and you should expect that your new partner will both listen to your ideas and offer advice. You should receive quotes from multiple potential partners, but be leery of those that seem too cheap and those that seem overpriced. Your best option will be the best price, best service, and best long-term solution.
These nine subjects offer a great opportunity to partner with the right molding team and partner to meet your product development goals. Getting from the search phase to a finished product isn’t going to be easy. Bringing a new product from concept to reality is tough, and the world economy moving at lightspeed makes it tougher than ever before. SEA-LECT Plastics offers ten different variations and methods for creating a rapid prototype sample, plus a world-class team of designers, tool makers, and logistic specialists ready to assist in bringing your new product to market. When you’re ready to work with our elite team that produces world-class prototypes and products, call (425) 339-0288 or email us at email@example.com. 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.