In-house injection molding is not a consideration to be taken lightly — although it sometimes is. The perceived benefits of bringing that production in-house can make it an attractive proposition to manufacturers with machining or other core competencies who need injection-molded components and parts for their products.
Upon due diligence, however, the vast majority of decision makers will find that those benefits — things such as reduced cost or faster speed — are not as easily attainable as they initially seemed, and in many cases will never actually come to fruition at all. While this fact almost always bears out when examined over the long term, there are even a number of short-term benefits to not bringing your injection molding in-house.
As an alternative to an in-house process, outsourcing your injection molding offers many more tangible benefits to your bottom line — both over time and in your day-to-day operation. Since both types of cost benefits are important, we’ll take a look at each below — while hopefully saving you some time in your decision-making process.
Upfront, Near-Term Benefits
- Lower startup costs. Put bluntly, injection molding equipment is expensive. Below, we’ll look a bit more closely about why a new injection molding machine will not necessarily pay for itself over the long term, but for right now, it’s important to consider the scope of the investment to which you are committing. Outsourced injection molding requires no such upfront costs or commitment, allowing you to order only the quantities you need. Even when taking into account the costs of mold manufacturing and storage that you’re accountable for when outsourcing, the financial benefits of outsourcing remain apparent.
- Faster time to startup. As you’re likely well aware, purchasing any new equipment is a time-consuming, resource-intensive process. When factoring the time necessary in every step of procurement — research, pricing, ordering, delivery, setup — the idea of bringing injection molding in-house can begin to lose some of its luster. With outsourced injection molding, your supplier is ready to meet your needs in a much more compressed timeline, meaning faster delivery and time to market for you.
- Continued focus on core competencies. Outsourced injection molding allows you to continue carrying out the processes that you’ve built your business on, and to devote all of your resources there. That includes management, R&D, quality control and the manufacturing process itself — the success of which are all critical to your balance sheet. You’re able to carry on your business with the machinery and personnel you have on hand, without the need for new training, onboarding and so on.
- Expertise and quality. The right plastic injection molding supplier for you should have a track record of expertise and success, built up over years of experience. Although it may seem to be a simple process, there is an “art form” to the most successful injection molding, requiring more than just setting up a machine and starting production. Fine-tuning the process is necessary to produce high-quality products, decrease part rejections and keep everything running smoothly, which is an undertaking that is most beneficial when left to experts.
Big-Picture, Long-Term Benefits
Now that we’ve taken a look at the near-term benefits of outsourced injection molding — the costs and resource investments that would begin impacting you right away were you to bring the process in-house — let’s take a look at the big-picture benefits that play out over several years.
- Lower maintenance costs. When you bring injection molding in-house, your costs don’t end with the equipment itself. Scheduled maintenance alone consumes time and resources, to say nothing of machinery downtime and repair costs when something unexpected happens. While maintenance costs are, of course, built in to the price quoted by an outsourced injection molder, that cost is negligible — being spread over many customers and jobs — when compared with the responsibility you would shoulder on your own.
- Economies of scale — personnel. Similarly, injection molding machinery does not run itself. By bringing the process in-house, it’s highly likely that you would need to take on additional personnel to operate it — an investment that must then be counteracted by the cost savings and revenue produced by the machine. As with the above point, you are essentially paying a prorated, amortized amount for the personnel necessary to produce your outsourced injection molded parts, rather than taking on the full burden of salary and benefits.
- Economies of scale — materials. When you work with an injection molding outsourcer, you are often able to leverage their buying power when purchasing the raw material for your process. With in-house injection molding, it’s likely not feasible for you to purchase material at the volume necessary to see tangible cost benefits, building in another hidden cost to not outsourcing.
- Lower risk. Many of the points above feed into this one, but it’s worth stating on its own: outsourcing your injection molding is a much lower-risk proposition than bringing it in-house. With your own machinery, your return on investment is contingent upon order volume, sales, markets and economies, and other metrics beyond your control, played out over a very long term — at a high initial cost. With outsourcing, your investment risk is limited to an order-by-order basis. You’re much better able to adjust to and absorb market fluctuations, and are overall much less “on the hook” than you would be with in-house equipment.
- Expertise and quality (again). The expertise and quality that you gain access to with outsourced injection has a long-term impact, as well as a benefit to your day-to-day operations (as discussed above). High-quality products are the most important aspect of your business, your brand and your success, and it’s simply not worth it to risk that by implementing a new process and improving as you go. With an outsourced injection molding supplier, the expertise and experience are already there, ready for you to take advantage of.
With benefits over both the long and short terms, it’s clear that outsourced injection molding can be an asset to nearly anyone considering bringing the process in-house. Be sure to keep these advantages in mind when gauging what would work best for your organization and requirements.