When we come across injection molded products in the store, it’s often from a large corporation that makes hundreds of thousands of units in a year. They injection mold a high volume of products every year. Sometimes in the millions for world-wide distribution. What happens if you have a new product idea, but only need a few thousand or less? Can it be done without significant cost and time invested? Yes, and it’s called ‘short run plastic injection molding’. If you’ve never heard of it, let’s talk about what it is and the advantages it can give your new product.
What is Short Run Plastic Injection Molding?
Short run plastic injection molding can also be called low-volume or small batch injection molding. It requires less time to develop and reduced investment cost to begin production. It is used to manufacture simple plastic injection molded components from high-grade aluminum or lower grade steel injection molds instead of higher grade steel molds required for high-volume components molding. It is best used for injection molding that requires less than 10,000 parts to be made.
What Advantages Does Short Run Injection Molding Offer?
- Reduced Timing – Short run injection molding can offer turnaround of parts in days or just a few weeks depending on the complexity of the components molded. Compare that to months for a high-grade steel mold.
- Reduced Investment Cost – Lower grade steel and higher grade aluminum costs less than the high grade steel required for molds producing hundreds of thousands or millions of parts. Don’t overpay for materials when it won’t be required for your niche low-volume production.
- High Quality – Many may think short run molding must cut corners with dimensional tolerances and quality, but the truth is it keeps a high dimensional tolerance and surface quality as well as high volume injection molding. If you need specific dimensions for GD&T or components to fit together, short run injection molding can offer quality to meet your expectations.
- Flexible Material Options – Short run molding doesn’t have a restriction on the resin requirements due to the mold material. It can utilize similar resins as higher volume molding, so you can still choose from the thousands of resins available
- No Minimum Order Requirements – Using a higher grade steel indicates you want to create a large volume of components. If you just need a few hundred, or even less, don’t pay for minimum ordering to ensure you use the mold as much as possible. With short run injection molding, you can just mold as many as needed without volume requirements.
Where is Short Run Injection Molding Used?
Due to the high quality offered with short run injection molding, many niche industries use it to create low numbers of components and products every year. These are just some of the uses:
- Medical Industry – Many times medical products are made for niche uses and only need a few hundred components. Short run molding is perfect for high quality and low production in this case.
- Prototypes and Trial Parts – Many times your new product needs more samples than 3D prototyping can reasonably offer based on cost and/or time. In this case short run molding can produce more sample in less time than 3D prototyping options available.
- Military & Aerospace Applications – Similar to the medical industry, military and aerospace applications don’t always require a large volume of components to be made for designs. Short run molding is perfect for a limited number of parts than need to keep flexibility for future options.
- High-End Exotic Automotive – You’ve seen the six-figure bespoke exotic cars on social media that are only offered in limited numbers. Short run molding is used extensively to keep high quality on components, but only produce a limited number of parts as needed.
Short run, low volume, or batch injection molding is the perfect bridge between low volume 3D prototypes and high-volume injection molding. It can offer quick turnaround at an economical price and doesn’t require an extensive design to make it a better choice than other options. SEA-LECT Plastics has an elite staff of designers and manufacturing professionals that design and produce world-class products with short run injection molding. We have the knowledge to make your design simple, cost-effective, and the turn-key assembly options to produce it in-house in Everett, Washington. If you have a new idea, call us (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can offer you advice on the best technology to use, the best materials to meet your product demands, and how to navigate through each development stage with ease.
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.