Plastics Injection Molding 101: Part 1
So you are an inventor or new business with a great idea you want to bring to the market. At Accurate we have a great deal of experience in new product development and with this series we are sharing some tips on getting your product to market.
Let's get started with Part 1: An Overview of Getting a Quote
- The first step with a new product is to create a design. This may start out on a napkin or you may create your own model by hand. However at some point you will need a 3D computer aided design (CAD) file that your manufacturer can use to produce parts. Thus the first step is getting your product to a designer who can take your idea and create a 3D file. We recommend searching for an Industrial Designer who designs plastic parts as they will have the expertise to ensure the design they provide for you can be manufactured efficiently. They will help guide you in the process of part design and suggest which production method would be best for your parts. Accurate has a list of designers in the Atlanta area and we would be happy to help you with this step.
- With a 3D design file in hand you are ready to prototype. 3D printing is a great way to get a proof of concept part and ensure your final design meets your requirements before you build a mold. Accurate offers both FDM and Polyjet printing and can source other processes such as SLA and SLS.
- With your final 3D design file determined after prototyping, you can now get production and tooling quoted. If you and your designer determine that injection molding would be a good fit for your parts/product, then you will need to take that 3D file to a mold maker. Accurate offers full service mold making and repair. Using your 3D file and some of the additional information that will be discussed below, we can get you a mold quote in about five business days.
- In addition to a final 3D design file, your mold maker will need to know your expected annual order volume of parts, grade of plastic you wish to use, pantone color, any particular quality assurance requirements for your parts, and if there will be any specific assembly or packaging requirements. Your estimated annual volume will determine the number of cavities in your mold and will greatly affect the cost of your mold and part cost. Give your most realistic number here, you don't need to sell your mold maker on the potential of your product. Instead you want your mold maker to give you the most cost effective quote possible and low part volumes mean lower cost molds. Accurate is happy to help if you have questions about your plastic resin choice. We have extensive experience with a wide variety of resins and can make recommendations to fit your desired application.
- You now have your mold and production quote. Injection molds are not inexpensive with a minimum cost of $5000.00. These can be quoted both in-house and made in China. Part costs are greatly affected by order volume as setup fees are included in each part run. The setup fee is set cost and thus impacts the part price of lower volume runs significantly. Accurate we will quote your mold cost, and your part cost according to volume. In addition, we will quote a "lead time" which is the time it will take for us to finish your mold or a production run. This time includes the time spent in queue before your mold is worked on or parts are produced. Lead times for molds vary from 4-12 weeks and usually production runs from 2-4 weeks. Accurate generally asks for 50% down on molds and initial production runs with the final 50% due upon part sample approval.
In summary, it is important to be prepared for a multistep process in order to get a mold and production quote. Molds are not cheap and while some may be as low as a few thousand dollars, others can be close to one hundred thousand dollars. Thus, having a business plan and establishing revenue and financing for your new mold and initial production run(s) becomes a key in the planning process.
In Part 3 we will discuss how to make your mold and parts cost less and how to ensure you have the cash flow necessary to launch your project.