Let’s assume that you are currently designing a lifesaving medical device made out of plastic, or you’re on the brink of finishing the design for the next big plastic toy. If you are a relatively new manufacturer or you run a small or medium-sized manufacturing business, investing $100,000 or more in high-volume steel tooling can be a substantial financial risk. What if we tell you that there is a way to manufacture lower volume outputs with the same top-notch quality as if you were about to produce millions of units.
In recent times, there is a profound way to mitigate both financial and product development risks. Say hello to plastic injection molding for low volume production. The quick-turn plastic injection molding with aluminum tooling is a cost-effective and quick way to produce your desired outcomes in limited numbers.
Numerous plastic manufacturing companies take advantage of this injection molding manufacturing technique to cater to their much more demanding customer base. As customer expectations reach new heights each day, businesses go for lower volume production to explore their latest products and find their place on the market with less risk.
And while 3D printing is getting more advanced, it’s still not feasible to cost-effectively produce plastic parts and products with the desired characteristics at a reasonable speed and price. 3D printing might be a good option in the future, but for the time being – plastic injection molding remains the best choice when talking about producing plastic parts in low volume. Read along to find out why injection molding is fantastic for low volume production, how the molds are made, and the advantages it puts on the table.
Why Are Manufacturers Embracing Plastic Injection Molding For The Manufacturing Of Low Volume Batches?
The manufacturing of plastic parts, components, and products is a fast-paced business model where businesses of all sizes are expected to release their plastic end-products into the market at a high-speed rate. Nevertheless, plastics production is not a quick process because it’s as complicated as it gets. As the plastic market demand entirely contradicts the nature of its production, companies that work with plastic products are left in the middle and have to adjust to these factors.
Depending on the custom plastic part design, each design needs an injection mold specially customized to the desired product, with exact tolerance, finish, and functionality. The molds themselves also take time to be created with appropriate materials. Subject to the mold design’s complexity, it may take from a couple of weeks up to three months to create a mold, and that is unacceptable in the fast-paced plastics industry.
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Low volume plastic injection molding is the answer to the current problems that small-batch manufacturing companies face. Plastic injection molding shortens the lead time for faster production, and even more importantly, it offers versatility when it comes to the budget required for the output. Low volume plastic injection molding is a very cost-effective method perfect for plastic manufacturers of all sizes. In recent years, besides small and mid-sized manufacturers, even major plastic manufacturers have picked up this popular option to give their business much-needed flexibility in different manufacturing aspects.
So, what is the main difference between regular plastic injection molding and injection molding for low volume production? Well, the only difference lies in the molds.
Custom Molds For Low Volume Plastic Injection Molding
Like with regular plastic production, molds’ production for low volume injection molding typically follows the exact process. The process begins with a pre-made mold prototype, 2D, or 3D design. Afterward, the mold creator uses various processing methods as polishing and wire cutting to develop the desired output’s final mold. It’s essentially the same as with conventional manufacturing of molds, except the mold is made from aluminum or other lower-grade steel because it doesn’t have to withstand hundreds of thousands of injection press times as a production mold. Not only is it faster, but low volume production molds are also significantly cheaper.
Low volume molds made of aluminum or pre-hardened steel are perfect for 10,000 – 100,000 molding cycles, which is more than enough for low volume plastic injection molding. The process is faster, easier, cost-effective, and is also referred to as rapid tooling or plastic prototype tooling.
Benefits Of Low Volume Plastic Injection Molding Manufacturing
The first and most important reason why plastic manufacturers choose low volume injection molding compared to mass-manufacturing is that they can considerably reduce business costs. Molds made out of hardened steel are generally a considerable investment. Because of that, smaller-scale businesses may not adapt to the fast-paced environment they find themselves in if they are working on a tight budget. Injection molds for low volume production give these companies better flexibility and allow them to work around their finances to stay competitive.
Another great benefit of low volume plastic injection molding is the short lead time that leads to faster production. Contrary to the massive plastics production, low volume plastic parts may only take up to one month to be completely ready. This empowers businesses to take their plastic commodities on to the market quicker and get some returns in revenue right away from their business investment.
The bottom line, there’s no disparity at all when it comes to the quality of plastic parts manufactured through low volume injection molding compared to the hardened steel production method. Low volume plastic parts are as good as traditional plastics and aren’t subpar, unlike one would presume due to the more affordable and conventional approach.
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The only drawback of this injection molding technique is that it’s a method not initially designed for mass production quantities and it’s not advisable if your company is expected to manufacture thousands of units at a rapid rate. As the very name suggests, low volume plastic injection molding is initially accustomed to small and mid-sized businesses.
Plastic injection molding for low volume production of plastic parts is more or less the same as injection molding for mass production with a substantially lower initial investment. If your business expects low-to-mid-volume demand for specific plastic parts or up to 100,000 pieces per year, this manufacturing technique is a fantastic option for you and your company.