You may have a product that is nearing the end of its life cycle, but you’re not ready to retire it from your product lineup. There’s always a question of what to do with it. Can you make it better? Can you change something to freshen it up without investing too much? The simple answer may be just changing the surface finish on your aging product will make it new again.
The surface finish on your product, whether vintage or modern, will need to have visual appeal and/or a technical function. Choosing which is right for your product is one of the smaller details overall, but it can have a large impact on investment cost and long-term success if done erroneously. Understanding the intention and function of your product, and how the customer will use it, may help to determine which type of surface finish will fit your new refresh the best. Your selection should offer flexibility for manufacturing, but also convey the value of the product. Multiple surface options can offer a texture and finish that will be durable and visually appealing, can refresh and update your aged product, and still meet the performance requirements needed to serve the customer demands.
Rebranding with a New Surface Finish?
Before you start the search for the best options for surface finishes, you should know what the purpose of the original finish was when the product initial released. Was it added for visual appeal only, or did it provide some function too? It may be as simple as one of those options, or it could be a combination of both. Before you pick the final surface finish for a product refresh, you should know what class of mold you will need based on production volume and what material the mold will be made from. A steel mold will be harder than an aluminum mold and offer more options for an updated surface finish. Steel has the advantage that it can be polished for smoother surface finishes too. That can also be advantageous for painting or another secondary turnkey operation to enhance your re-branded and updated product.
Some of the current surface finishes available include:
- Blasted for a rough uniform texture
- Prepared for painting or secondary graphics
- Etched with a logo
- Gloss, matte, or satin polish
- Mirror or lens finish
- Leathery texture simulating grain
- Geometric or patterned shapes
What Additional Advantages Does a Surface Finish Change Offer?
If you plan to update your injection molds for a product refresh, you may find that adding a new surface finish can offer multiple advantages including being used to make undercuts and hide parting lines formed during the injection molding process. These could have been problems identified after the initial product launch, or they may have started to show up as the initial molds started to wear over time. Depending how the mold was initially designed and created, there may have been multiple slides that move in and out to eject and release the parts. These designs could have used the best technology available at the time of initial release, but in today’s environment, they may be outdated. A strategic texture or surface finish in those areas of the injection mold can blend or hide the parting lines. Beyond visual appeal, texture can improve grip, offer improved paint adhesion, and can allow gases to escape the mold during the injection process. It may be the perfect option for a re-branding effort and re-release of your product to the market.
Does Resin Choice Affect a New Surface Finish?
A change to the surface finish may seem like a small detail to discuss with your mold designer, but leaving it as an after-thought could cause delays and costly changes. A rough idea on the surface finish should be discussed at the onset of your project development. Your designer should also ask about your resin selection of the re-branded product. It may be time for a change to meet stricter environmental changes since the initial launch, or it may just be time to change the resin based on customer market research. The bottom line is that your resin choice can affect the surface finish on your product. Both need to work together to properly form an injection molded part that meets your customer’s demands.
What Else Should Be Considered When Changing a Surface Finish?
Your resin choice for your updated product is at the top of the list for design considerations. Beyond resin, other considerations for any type of embossing, pad printing, or hot stamping with a logo or visual pattern need to be decided upon early on in the design to prevent costly changes and delays. There are two basic categories of resins; amorphous and semi-crystalline, and there are sub-categories to each main category. Your product may need additives or fillers to meet certain design criteria, it may need a determined fill rate inside the mold, a pressure requirement, and/or a determined temperature to completely fill the injection mold. All of these variables are connected and it can be confusing to know what should be determined first, second, and so on.
A product redesign and relaunch has many arms and legs to ensure a smooth process. Your aged product has the benefit of market research and customer data that tells you what you need to stay atop the competition. Choosing each detail to ensure that happens is one of the more critical stages to get through. When you need a resource to design your mold, help to select an appropriate resin, and a identify supporting surface finishes with all the parameters needed for a successful product relaunch, we’re here to help. For more information on SEA-LECT’s production opportunities, call (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.