Understanding the plastic injection moulding process to manufacture plastic components is essential to optimise performance, avoid delays and changes, and adjust costs to meet your targets.
Experienced injection moulding engineers use a design for manufacturing (DFM) strategy that can make the process more economical and reliably manufacturable. The goal is to reduce production costs while improving the process speed and quality of manufacturing.
First, the engineers will create a 3D CAD model of the part concept. The client can make changes as needed along the way once it has a good idea of the preliminary part design.
An injection moulding specialist will use the CAD model for part weight calculations and determine what size and style of mould would best fit the part’s requirements.
The 3D CAD design also can be used to create a 3D-printed proof-of-concept part for presentations and, sometimes, functional testing. At this point, it is also easy to calculate a budgetary mould cost and moulded piece price based on the 3D part design.
The engineering team will then review options to determine the next steps to produce the mould while meeting specifications and cost targets. It is best to bring the entire product assembly design into the discussion, as this gives opportunities to solve problems while keeping the design intent with clear expectations.
Experienced moulding team members will identify potential problem areas and explore ways to adjust the part design. For example, not all part concepts are good candidates for moulding. Long and thin part features may be difficult to fill properly in the mould and create issues when ejecting the part from the mould.
It may also be challenging to hold tolerances on multiple areas of a complex part, as shrinkage is not always linear during the cooling phase of the moulding cycle. Another factor to consider is the material resin used to produce the part.
It is especially important to review your design and material with process technicians, who have years of experience working with a wide variety of resins. The team will also rely on a network of resin suppliers for technical support and material selection.
Other considerations in the process include colour compatibility with the resin, the locations of parting lines (seams), and whether knit lines are acceptable and how they can minimised.
The injection moulding specialist can only finalise the price and lead time for the creation of the mould and production parts in the best way possible after all details have been set. These include the final design and specifications, material choice, and other requirements.
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