While the term “perfect” can be a bit nuanced within fields that involve product manufacturing, it’s not uncommon for those looking for plastic parts to be on the hunt for as close to a perfect part as possible. How do you ensure that you’re working toward the ideal final product when ordering any kind of plastic injection molded part?
At EnviroTech, we’re here to help. We offer a huge range of plastic injection molding services, serving industries ranging from food processing and agriculture through automotive, electrochemical, defense and many others. What are some of the key elements we’ll help you stay focused on when looking to create the ideal part for any of your needs? Here are several to keep in mind.
Up first on this list, one of the most important elements in the creation of an ideal plastic injection molded part is mold design. This is the process through which a three-dimensional representation of your desired final product is created, and it’s crucial to ensuring that the end result meets or exceeds your expectations.
At EnviroTech, we take pride in our team of experienced engineers who will work with you to create a mold that’s perfectly suited to your needs. We use state-of-the-art software to design molds that are not only highly precise, but also cost-effective, ensuring that you can get the parts you need without breaking the bank.
When we first begin work with any client on their desired product(s), we’ll ask several questions that will help guide our mold design process. These include:
- How many parts do you need?
- What are the dimensions of the part?
- What is the wall thickness of the part?
- What kind of surface finish do you need?
- What material will be used to make the part?
Once we know the answers to questions like these, we can begin work on creating a mold that will perfectly suit your needs.
Tool Design and Testing
Tools are another vital part of the plastic injection molding process, and their design is just as important as that of the mold itself. The tool is what actually forms the plastic into the shape of your desired final product, so it’s crucial that it be up to the task.
At EnviroTech, we use computer-aided design (CAD) to create tools that are not only precise, but also durable. We understand that your tools will be put under a great deal of stress during the injection molding process, so we design them to withstand years of use.
Once we’ve designed the tool, we put it through a rigorous testing process to ensure that it meets or exceeds our high standards. Only when we’re confident that the tool is up to the task do we begin production.
Features of a Precision Mold
Don’t worry — we’re still getting to resin and material selection! But before this point, it’s vital to also consider several other major parts of a precise mold approach:
- Core metal: Typically stainless steel or another high-strength metal, the core is what gives a mold its rigidity. It’s designed to withstand years of use and abuse without breaking down.
- Cavity inserts: These are what actually form the shape of your desired final product. They’re typically made from hardened steel or another similarly durable material. The number of cavities in a mold will depend on the number of parts you need.
- Mold base: The mold base holds all cavities, inserts, and other parts of the mold together. It’s typically made from aluminum or another similarly lightweight metal.
- Core machining: By carefully placing cores in the mold, we can create products with features that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. This process is vital for many of our clients in the automotive industry, where precise tolerances are a must.
- Part complexity: Including areas like surface finish, number of undercuts, and wall thickness, part complexity is another important factor to consider when designing your mold. The more complex the part, the more challenging (and expensive) it will be to produce.
We promised we’d get to resin selection eventually, and here we are! Now that you understand the basics of mold design and tooling, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of material you’ll use to produce your parts.
The most common resins used in plastic injection molding are thermoplastics. These materials can be molded and shaped multiple times without losing their strength or durability. They’re also relatively easy to work with, which keeps production costs down.
Some of the most common thermoplastics used in injection molding are acrylic, polycarbonate, and polystyrene. Each of these materials has its own unique properties that make it more or less suited for certain applications.
For example, polycarbonate is one of the strongest thermoplastics available, making it ideal for products that will be subject to a great deal of stress or wear and tear. Acrylic, on the other hand, is known for its clarity, making it a popular choice for items like eyeglass lenses and display cases.
Production Process and Quality Finishing
Finally, once all of the design and planning is complete, it’s time to start production. The plastic injection molding process itself is relatively simple: molten plastic is injected into a mold at high pressure, where it cools and hardens to take on the desired shape.
However, there’s more to producing a high-quality final product than just the molding process itself. It’s also important to consider the quality of the mold, the type of resin used, and the finishing touches that will be applied to the product.
For example, a poorly designed mold can cause defects in the finished product, while a lower-quality resin may not meet your strength or durability requirements. Likewise, a simple paint job may not be sufficient to protect your product from the elements if it will be used outdoors.
For more on the factors that contribute to an ideal plastic part, or to learn about any of our plastic injection molding products or services, speak to our team at EnviroTech today.