There are a few variables within the world of plastic injection molding that are very important but can also differ in a few basic ways, and a great example here is the realm of volume. Injection molding needs can vary extremely widely between clients and applications, from some clients who may require a small volume of products to those looking to produce tens or even hundreds of thousands regularly.
At EnviroTech Custom Injection Molders, we’re happy to assist clients with a huge range of volume needs for their custom plastic injection molding projects, from standard molding projects to bulk injection molding and more. Within our industry, volume levels for such projects are generally categorized in three bins: Low, medium and high volume ranges. What are the ranges being described here, and how do they differ in certain important areas? Here’s a primer.
Low-Volume Plastic Injection Molding
Generally speaking, any plastic injection molding project where fewer than 10,000 pieces of a given component or product are being produced would be classified as low volume. This lower end of the spectrum is generally reserved for products that have a unique shape or are only being made in small batches, with high production costs per piece.
The tooling used for these molds will be made of aluminum, rather than the hardened steel that’s used for higher volume projects. This is because the softer aluminum can be more easily machined and shaped to create the specific component or product being manufactured. Here are some of the specific benefits that come with low-volume plastic injection molding projects:
- Low tooling costs: Tooling for low-volume projects is less expensive to produce, as it doesn’t need to be as robust as higher volume tools.
- Shorter turnaround times: Due to the lower set-up and manufacturing costs, low-volume tools can be produced much more quickly than their high-volume counterparts.
- Improved design flexibility: Since low-volume tools are less expensive to produce, they can also be affordably updated or modified as needed to improve the product design. And because tooling can be made at faster speeds, this can often be accomplished with minimal delay.
- Entry to market: Finally, because these products come with lower costs and faster turnaround times, they can provide an attractive entry point for businesses looking to get their products onto store shelves and into the hands of consumers.
For these reasons, low-volume injection molding projects tend to be best for some of the following needs:
- Prototypes: When you’re still working on the perfect design for a product, low-volume production can be a great way to get prototypes into your customers’ hands quickly and cheaply. This allows for faster iteration and improved designs.
- Small batches: If you only need a small quantity of a product for sale or for use in your business, low-volume injection molding can be a great option. This will save you money on production costs while still providing you with high-quality products.
- Market testing: If you’re not sure how a product will be received by the public, market testing can be a low-risk way to find out. Producing a small quantity of products in different colors or with different features can help you gauge customer interest and see if there’s potential for a full-scale launch.
High-Volume Plastic Injection Molding
On the other side of this coin is the realm of high-volume plastic injection molding, which typically involves anywhere from tens or hundreds of thousands of pieces all the way up to millions in some cases. As you may have already guessed, tooling used for high-volume injection molding projects will be made of hardened steel rather than the aluminum used for low-volume tools.
The increased production capacity and economies of scale that come with high-volume injection molding make it a great choice for products that are being made in large quantities and that need to be produced quickly and cheaply. Some of the most common benefits of this realm include:
- Greater capacities and speeds: These operations are capable of producing tens or even hundreds of thousands of products in a given day.
- Reduced costs: As production volumes increase, the unit cost for each product decreases. This is due to the increased efficiency and economies of scale that come with high-volume production. In addition, because these products are more durable on average due to the hardened steel used in their manufacturing, they can often be sold at a lower price point than products made with low-volume tools.
- Much better for automation: For numerous industries that lean on automated production lines, high-volume injection molding is the only way to go. The high degree of repetition and reliability that these machines require can best be met with products that are being produced in large quantities.
For these reasons, high-volume injection molding is typically used for several applications or needs:
- Major manufacturing: When a company needs to produce a high volume of a particular product, high-volume injection molding is often the best way to do it. This can include products for sale in stores, products used in manufacturing processes, or even components for other products.
- Contract manufacturing: A business that specializes in contract manufacturing often takes on jobs that require high-volume production. This is because they have the necessary infrastructure in place to handle these types of jobs quickly and efficiently.
- Standardized products: Finally, high-volume injection molding is often the best way to go when producing standardized products in large quantities. This allows for a greater degree of consistency and quality control while still keeping costs low.
Medium-Volume Injection Molding
While this category is a bit less strictly defined, it broadly encompasses any volume range that isn’t classified as low or high. In most cases, this volume range will be somewhere between a few thousand and a hundred thousand products.
These projects tend to mix the benefits of high and low-volume injection molding, with shorter lead times and lower costs than high-volume production but more durability and tooling options than low-volume. Their applications can range from producing a few thousand customized products for a single customer to producing tens of thousands of the same product for resale.
As you can see, there are a variety of factors to consider when choosing the right volume range for your plastic injection molding needs. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each, you can make the best decision for your particular need. For more on this, or to learn about any of our plastic injection molding services, speak to the pros at EnviroTech Custom Injection Molders today.