Six Sigma holds a storied place in the recent history of manufacturing. Popularized by none other than Jack Welch of General Electric in the mid-1990s (although started by a Motorola engineer), the phrase “Six Sigma” has come to be synonymous with the ideal achievement of quality — which is fitting, since the methodology strives for perfection.
It’s a pretty awful feeling when, after seeing several defective parts released from a mold, you realize that you’re going to have to halt production and figure out what the problem is. Injection molding defects are certainly not uncommon, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with — especially with QA waiting, orders queuing and delivery deadlines looming.
For many manufacturing scenarios, injection molding is the best choice on many fronts: speed, cost and product reliability. The process is perfectly suited when large quantities of highly repeatable, consistent parts are needed at a relatively low per-piece cost. The versatility of injection molding does not, however, mean that it’s without potential pitfalls. Manufacturers and potential entrepreneurs with new product concepts can run into any number of problems without properly considering all aspects of the process, leading to inferior part quality, manufacturing delays and unplanned cost overruns.