In manufacturing, it’s always a good idea to understand the best practices for the process you intend to use to create a part — whether it’s plastic molding, 3D printing, CNC machining or beyond. Best practices exist for every process, and they have been developed for a reason: they can help ensure the quality of your product; they can make your production process more efficient; and, overall, they can save you significant time and money throughout your development and ongoing production processes.
There’s so much that goes into developing an injection molded product for manufacture — proper design, prototyping, material selection and more — that it’s easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of the process: The injection mold tool itself. The choices you make in injection mold tooling resonate throughout the manufacturing process, meaning that they should never be taken lightly.
Plastic injection molding offers nearly unparalleled versatility and quality in manufacturing. The ubiquitous nature of the process means that it’s rarely a challenge to find an injection molding manufacturing partner, whether for tooling or for the process itself — another quality that makes injection molding a popular choice for products (though finding the right manufacturing partner is a different story). The cost of a plastic injection mold can, however, often stop entrepreneurs and engineers in their tracks as they experience a bit of “sticker shock,” especially if they’re unfamiliar with the process
Polypropylene is one of the most common plastics used worldwide. In fact, it’s second only to polyethylene in volume. Despite being such a commonly used material, however, it’s still important for engineers and entrepreneurs alike to understand polypropylene plastic: its properties, its uses and even a bit of its history. In addition to being broadly found in full-production manufacturing, polypropylene is well suited for prototyping. Understanding more about the material will help you learn why.
The injection molding process is one that, although the baseline concept is simple, involves a number of intricate facets and moving parts (both literally and figuratively). The number of settings, calibrations, sub-processes, and choices that can be made or changed — even minimally — can have major effects on the finished product. Those effects include its quality, appearance and the time it takes to make it — among many others. What’s more, each of those aspects plays a part in another major component of a product — its cost and, by extension, its bottom line.
Material selection is a key factor for many aspects of your injection molded part or product. It affects some or all of the following, in most cases: the physical properties of the product, its look, its operation, its interaction with other materials and components, and its durability. On top of all that, material selection can play a big role in your material and production costs, and their subsequent effects on your bottom line. Taking all of those factors into consideration, it’s clear that choosing a material for your injection molded product should not be taken lightly.
As with many cases in manufacturing, you have options when it comes to injection molding. While there are a host of plastic materials that lend themselves to the process, they all generally fall into two broad categories: thermoplastic and thermoset materials. Each type of material offers different properties, benefits and strengths; and today, we’re going to focus on the importance of thermoplastic materials.
In the world of product development and manufacturing, 3D printing and injection molding are almost universally acknowledged to sit atop any list of the various methods available. While each of these methods is versatile and well-suited to a number of situations and uses, they are quite different in several ways: method, material, volume, cost and optimal application — just to name a few.
Color for plastic injection molded parts can make a big difference in the success of your product. For consumer products, different colors and appearances can help differentiate your offering from those next to it on the shelf (or website). The right color for a product can trigger the subconscious, emotional response that takes a person from “just looking” to “must have.” Color, when used the right way, can also help strengthen and unify your branding strategy to build your reputation in the eyes of your target audience.