Injection moulding is a popular process for producing precision plastic parts in high or low volume. In Ontario, injection moulding design is crucial to ensuring that parts meet requirements for size, geometry, materials and other criteria. Certain details can be machined in after production, the beauty of injection moulding is in the amount of detail that can be incorporated into the mould.
This is an advantage to any manufacturer who is concerned about making parts that function well, use the least amount of material, produce the least amount of waste in production, require the least production time, and need minimal after-cast machining. Manufacturers who want to be "greener" in their approach to production seek to eliminate all waste. The best way for Ontario injection moulding design teams to save resources is to work with other members of the engineering team to arrive at parts that fit the criteria for design for manufacturing (DFM.)
When teams work together, engineers can use computer modeling to identify how they can reduce thickness, weight, and materials in certain areas of the part while maintaining function. Another way a DFM approach can reduce resource use is by converting several parts into a larger, more complex part that requires fewer steps to manufacture and less assembly. Since injection moulding is used for about one third of all plastic parts, finding ways to save material can have a big environmental impact.
While the design for manufacturing approach saves resources, collaboration has its costs too. One way that some companies are reducing product development time while achieving goals for an environmentally sound product is by using 3-D printing, a process that can actually create a finished product from software and a small printer. The process can even be used to create tooling which can in turn be used for a number of prototype parts.
The engineering team could print a few parts and if they wanted to change dimensions, wall thicknesses tolerance, and other variables, they could reprogram the machine and when they got to the point of needing larger quantities, they could actually create a mold. Molds made by the 3-D plastic printing process are cheaper and quicker to make than traditional molds. A machined mold that might cost $45,000 and take 6 to 8 weeks to complete can be made for $2,000 in less than a week. Since the mold is made of plastic, it may only last for 500 parts or so, which might be a sufficient number of parts for testing.
Ironically, 3-D printing is already becoming a challenge to injection moulding for small quantities of parts. While 3-D printing is not the answer for high-volume injection moulding projects at the moment, the field has been put on notice that as printers become larger and more sophisticated, they will be a threat to traditional methods, especially in fields such as electronics, toys, and automotive parts. For now, 3-D printing is an excellent tool to advance efforts of Ontario injection moulding design teams to create production parts that are environmentally friendly.
Baytech Plastics, an injection molder known for its commitment to green design and its willingness to incorporate new technology, is watching the impact of 3-D printing on the field. To request a quote for Ontario injection moulding design, complete our website form. To schedule a visit, call us at 705-526-7801.
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