There are many steps on the road to producing a plastic injection molded part. Most would think the biggest step of the process would be the execution of the design. The ability to make a quality part true to the design intent isn’t solely reliant on the production end. The engineering can dictate if the part will be able to be molded, while the design can single-handedly ensure the finished part matches the original concept without overlooking common production issues.
Where It All Begins
Every production part must start somewhere. That usually is a first roundtable meeting between sales, engineering, production, and design to discuss the function of the part, what it is going to look like in the end, what characteristics it should have, and the timeline to get the product produced. Each entity involved must have a balance with the others to coordinate efforts to move forward.
The project timeline when charted out looks similar to a relay race. Teams can work alongside each other independently, but at certain points in the process each must hand their work to the next team to continue moving forward. That progress starts with engineering and design providing a thorough design ready for tooling creation, whether that is prototype or permanent mass-production level.
What Considerations Are Discussed in the Beginning?
In the first meeting, the concept of the product should be discussed. That involves how the product functions, and where it will be used. Environmental factors such as corrosion, moisture, and temperature will drive the decision of what materials should be used for the product to exceed customer expectations. Beyond environmental considerations, the team also needs to factor in any recycling options and local material restrictions that could apply to the design based on locale on the globe. Some countries won’t import products utilizing specific materials, and that needs to be considered in the material choice.
After the material has been selected, the tooling needs to be discussed. The design team covering tooling should be able to identify the number and type of gates required for injection molding based on the material being used. The number, type, and size of gates can predict the injection speed and pressure required to completely fill the injection mold without inducing defects that require rework. The function and surface texture of the part may also require wall thickness changes or ribs for strength to ensure the final product will be durable. Surface texture can also add visual appeal beyond reducing visual defects.
Engineering and Design Pay Forward
Solid engineering and design principles have lasting positive effects after the project has moved into the production phase. Production needs to balance time and cost to make a product that exceeds the customer expectation without unnecessary rework or lengthy manufacturing. If the design is close to being optimized, your parts will need additional work or adjustments between production runs to account for environmental and material fluctuations. If the design is completely optimized, any fluctuations will be accounted for, and production won’t need to continuously monitor and fine-tune settings to make a quality part.
Beyond excellent quality, optimized engineering and design creates an injection mold built to last the length of the project. Most optimized molds will exceed the targeted number of injection shots without requiring significant refurbishing. That saves investment and repair cost over the length of the project.
Of the steps in a plastic project, engineering and design play a key role in the future success of the project. The hardest part may be finding a manufacturing partner that understands every step in the process. Your best option should be an innovative turnkey production manufacturer that is capable and proven in design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly and delivery. SEA-LECT Plastics has faced the challenges surrounding the global economy, and we are an excellent manufacturer to partner on your next project. We can offer guidance on how to make your next project operate at world-class levels and incorporate changes to positively affect your daily operations. We have an elite staff that can design, engineer, manufacture, and deliver your new product to a global marketplace. If you have a new idea or need help to navigate the global supply chain, call us at (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.