Manufacturing Fall Open House at Nicolet Plastics

October is Manufacturing Month and Nicolet Plastics is opening its doors to the community. A perfect opportunity to learn about careers in manufacturing while celebrating autumn. The event will include a facility tour, pumpkin art, and trick or treating.

Please RSVP and be our guest on Friday, October 26th from 4:00pm to 6:30pm. (Please wear closed toed shoes.)

Call 715-276-4225 or email openhouse@nicoletplastics.com

 

#manufacturingmonth #mountainwi #activities

TruVenture Composites LLC Announces Acquisition

TruVenture Composites LLC, parent company of Nicolet Plastics LLC located in Mountain, Wisconsin, is pleased to announce that Nicolet Plastics has completed the acquisition of CNR Group, LLC located in Jackson, Wisconsin. CNR Group provides an extension to the capabilities of Nicolet Plastics by focusing on smaller‐tonnage injection molding and will now operate as CNR Plastics Division under Nicolet Plastics. CNR Group was founded in 2010 by Bob and Cheri Albrecht as a producer of plastic injection molded parts for the medical, electronics, agricultural, industrial, consumer, dental and sporting goods industries. It operates out of a 31,000 square‐foot production facility and produces such products as medical visor frames, packaging clips, lids and containers, consumer product components and many other components. CNR Group also offers custom assembly. All employees of CNR Group have been retained and will continue with CNR Plastics Division. Following the acquisition, Bob and Cheri Albrecht will also remain with the company in their roles to manage CNR Plastics Division. Additionally, Bob and Cheri Albrecht will assist TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics with organic and acquisition growth opportunities. TruVenture Composites acquired Nicolet Plastics in 2017 as the base of its plastics and composites portfolio to which it continues to search for acquisition targets in the Wisconsin area that have plastic processing capabilities in injection molding, blow molding or thermoforming, among others. The objective of TruVenture Composites’ portfolio is to better support its customers’ requirements by providing broad and integrated plastic processing capabilities under one company dedicated to exceptional quality and customer service.

TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics welcome Bob and Cheri Albrecht and look forward to working with them to continue the growth of its plastics composites business. For additional information regarding CNR Plastics Division, please visit the company’s website: www.cnr‐plastics.com. Additional information on TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics can be found at www.truventurecomposites.com and www.nicoletplastics.com, respectively.

The acquisition was finalized on August 31, 2018. Taureau Group, LLC advised TruVenture Composites on the acquisition and DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. provided legal representation to TruVenture Composites.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tony Cavalco at ACavalco@truventurecomposites.com. Tony Cavalco is President/CEO of TruVenture Composites.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 15TH ANNUAL NICOLET WALK / RUN

Save the date for Nicolet Plastics Annual Walk / Run on June 16, 2018.

The 15th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run is almost upon us! Have you started your training yet?

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 16th, 2018 beginning at 9:00 AM and will circle the scenic 4.37 mile route around beautiful Maiden Lake.

Sponsored by Nicolet Plastics, LLC. and the Pirates of the Northwood’s Parrot Head Club, the event has raised over $77,400 benefitting area emergency response departments since 2003.

Registration:

In Wisconsin, approximately 75% of emergency service workers are volunteers that are trained to help individuals in the event of a severe medical occurrence, car accident, and other life-threatening situation. These brave men and women put their own lives at risk each day to help others in need. As a special reward for these hardworking emergency professionals, proceeds from the Nicolet Run / Walk will be contributed to area emergency response departments to purchase life-saving equipment and training supplies.

The event site is located 80 miles northwest of Green Bay, or 40 miles east of Antigo and west of Marinette. Travel and hotel accommodations can be made through the Lakewood Area Chamber Website.

Organizations or individuals interested in event sponsorship should contact  Lee Ann Anderson at (715) 276-4269 or email leeann.anderson@nicoletplastics.com.

7 Common Elements Caught in the Design for Manufacturing Process

Getting products to market fast and on budget are two critical factors in the manufacturing process. The design for manufacturing process is cited by both product manufacturers and injection molders as the step that can have the greatest impact on production outcomes. When plastic injection molders are involved early in the part design process including prototype development and mold flow analysis, many cost and time efficiencies will be realized.

Designing a plastic part for manufacturability from the outset involves several considerations that can ultimately have a significant impact on key variables. While some manufacturers don’t account for design adjustments in their timelines, early collaboration with your molder may uncover aspects of a design that can be optimized to improve the efficiency of part production and performance. Here are a few of the most common elements caught in the design for manufacturing process:

1. Draft

As an essential requirement in injection molding, draft angles make it easier for a finished, cooled part to be released from a mold. Minimizing friction during the part release process is important to prevent damage to the parts, provide a uniform surface finish and reduce wear and tear on the mold.

Draft angles are calculated as a degree measurement from the direction of pull. Designing a part with sufficient draft is critical, which is why design engineers typically recommend minimum draft angles of 0.5 degrees for core and 1.0 degree for the cavity. More draft is also needed if a textured surface is desired and if there are steel shut off surfaces in the tool design.

2. Wall Thickness


Another important factor in part design is wall thickness. A proper and uniform wall thickness reduces the risk of structural and cosmetic defects in injection molded parts.

While typical wall thickness ranges from .04 – .150 for most resins, it is recommended that you work with a knowledgeable injection molder/design engineer to verify thickness specifications for the material(s) you are considering for your part.

Analyzing wall thickness is an essential step in the design process to avoid producing parts that have sink, warp or are ultimately non-functional.

3. Ribs

Ribs are used to strengthen the walls of your part without increasing wall thickness, making them a valuable element in injection molded parts. Particularly in complex parts, good rib design should shorten the mold flow length while ensuring the proper connection of ribs to enhance the strength of the part.

Since thickness and location are essential in rib design, ribs should be no greater than ⅔ of the wall thickness, depending on the material used. Using wider ribs may create design and sinking issues. To mitigate this, a design engineer will typically core out some of the material to reduce shrinking and maintain strength.

Rib length should not exceed 3 times the length of the wall thickness, as anything over this could lead to part shorting/not being able to fill the part completely. Identifying the proper placement, thickness and length of ribs in the early phases of part design is an important element to the viability of a part.

4. Gate Location


A gate is the location where molten plastic material flows into the mold part cavity. While every injection molded part has at least one gate, many parts are manufactured using several gates. Because gate location affects the orientation of the polymer molecules and how the part will shrink during the cooling process, gate location can either make or break your part design and functionality.

For example, if a part is long and narrow and must be absolutely straight, it is best to place the gate at the end of the part. For parts that need to be perfectly round, a centrally located gate is recommended.

Sharing preliminary part designs with your injection molding engineering team, leveraging their knowledge and expertise in material flow, will result in optimal gate placement and injection points.

5. Ejector Pin Location


After a plastic part is molded, ejector pins (located within the B-side/core of the mold) apply just the right amount of force required to eject the part from a mold. Ejector pin location is typically a relatively minor concern in the early phases of design, but marks and indentations can result from improperly placed ejector pins, which is why design and positioning should be considered as early as possible in the process.

The location of ejector pins depends on a number of factors, including draft and texture of sidewalls, depth of walls and ribs, and the type of material used. Reviewing part designs will either confirm that your initial ejector pin placement is correct or may generate further recommendations to improve production outcomes.

6. Sink Areas

When the material in the area of thicker features, such as ribs or bosses, shrinks more than the material in the adjacent wall, sink marks may result in the injection molded plastic part. This occurs because thicker areas cool at a slower rate than the thinner ones, and the different rates of cooling leave a depression on the adjacent wall that is commonly referred to as a sink mark.

Several factors contribute to sink mark formation, including the processing methods used, part geometry, material selection and tooling design. Depending on the part specifications, it may not be possible to adjust geometry and material selection, but there are many options available to eliminate sink areas.

Depending on the part and its final application, tooling design (e.g., cooling channel design, gate type and gate size) can be leveraged to influence sink. In addition, manipulating process conditions (e.g., packing pressure, packing time, length of packing phase and conditions) offers several options to reduce sink. Finally, minor tooling modifications, such as retrofittable components or process modifications (e.g., gas assist or foaming) are also available to combat sink. As a result, it is best to collaborate with your injection molder to determine which methods will work best to mitigate sink in your specific injection molded parts.

7. Parting Lines


Parting line location is worth noting and planning for when producing more complex parts and/or when complicated shapes are required.

Since part designers and molders tend to evaluate parts differently, sharing your design with your injection molder can dramatically affect the production and function of your finished product. If parting line challenges are found, there are several ways to address them.

Being aware of the significance of the parting line in your initial design is a good first step, but that may not be your only option. By leveraging CAD software and mold flow analysis, you may be able to determine other possible locations. Working with a knowledgeable injection molder will keep your part end use top of mind and will guide you to the best possible location for parting lines.

There is no question, engaging your plastic injection molder early in the design for manufacturability process and working closely with a design engineer to identify efficiencies will help get your product to market quicker and on budget. What challenges are you currently facing with the plastic part design process?

Learn how Nicolet Plastics can help you reduce lead times and identify turn-key solutions for every product.

6 Plastic Injection Molding Trends to Watch In 2018

According to Global Market Inc., the injection molded plastic market has established itself as one of the most dynamically evolving businesses in recent times. As one of the most commonly-used processes for product manufacturers, plastic injection molding is a precise method that can fabricate nearly any type of plastic part. Technologies, processes and materials used in injection molding continue to advance –  allowing manufacturers better insight to design, develop and produce the highest performing and cost efficient plastic parts.

Key areas that will continue to be of focus in the year ahead are the advancements in automation, sustainable practices, and software that allow for parts to be analyzed and tweaked virtually before production. In addition, industry experts credit lower oil prices, technological advances, technical expertise, and rapid growth in the building and construction sectors as drivers for continued future growth.

As we look ahead to 2018, we’re closely watching and leveraging the following plastic injection molding trends. Are you?

1. Automation

The impact of automation has been felt in virtually every industry, but the increased deployment of automated tools and robotics in the injection molding industry stands to be monumental. Automated robots boast speed, accuracy, agility and adaptability, which allows for significant increases in production.

Labor and energy make a tremendous impact on plastics processors businesses. To effectively compete internationally, processors must automate to increase the productivity and reduce costs of their operations in order to remain competitive.

Even when working with low to mid volume plastic parts, automation can greatly improve the cost and labor efficiency of production. However, automation is much more than simply adopting the use of robots. While automation may allow for increased processing time, a high level of skilled labor is still needed to manage operations effectively.

Another development in manufacturing automation, according to a recent report, is the integration of collaborative robots or “co-bots” which are increasingly being adopted to work collaboratively with humans. Through the use of robot controllers and specialized sensors for operations, manufacturers are able to address common issues such as labor shortages, repetitive processes and ergonomically-challenging tasks. In fact, many businesses that have embraced automation are reporting improved part consistency and quality, which is why we see this trend expanding in the coming year.

2. Environmental / Sustainability

In an effort to contribute to eco-friendliness and sustainability, the injection molding industry as a whole has been working diligently to decrease energy consumption and create bio-based and recyclable products. Thanks to advances in engineering, newer injection molding equipment now uses between 20%-50% less energy compared to those released just 10 years ago.

Responsible injection molders are also working diligently to reduce the amount of scrap plastics produced in the molding process and gaining efficiencies in doing so. For example, obtaining scrap material that can be repurposed in addition to recycling materials. Taking a few small steps to put sustainable practices into place can (over the course of a few years) save hundreds of thousands of pounds of material from going into landfills.

Many companies are working to strike a balance between their use of conventional plastics and bio-based alternatives. In addition, some organizations are in various stages of development and deployment of plastics, made entirely or in part, from soybeans, corn, flax and other materials, to meet the demand from consumers to save fossil fuels and reduce the negative aspects that traditional plastics have on the environment. Count on more manufacturers to increase their focus on environmental sustainability while reducing their carbon footprint in 2018.

3. Nearshoring

For manufacturers seeking to reduce production expenses, outsourcing of injection molding and/or processes to other countries is an industry trend worth noting. According to one medical device industry expert, the cost difference between injection molding a part in Asia versus North America is actually very small because the labor component is negligible. Electricity is a major component of injection molding, and energy costs are rather universal. So, what’s the element driving the nearshoring trend? Shipping.

The high cost and lengthy shipping times associated with manufacturing components or finished products overseas is forcing many U.S. companies to evaluate their operations and manufacture and ship from locations that are geographically closer. Companies benefiting from nearshoring cite faster delivery, reliability and cost-savings as major factors in their success. Creating long-lasting relationships with injection molders who can act as a partner in your product development process and assist with design for manufacturability also has major benefits. These reasons make us anticipate even more organizations shifting to nearshoring in the near future.

4. Precision Molding

The need for addressing manufacturing challenges swiftly, resolve production issues quickly and help engineers and technicians troubleshoot in real-time is being met by an abundance of technology in our industry – specifically by RJG eDart technology and software platforms like IQMS and Moldflow.

  • RJG eDart:  RJG is a comprehensive and powerful process monitoring tool for injection molding applications. The system helps gain greater control over stabilizing the injection molding processes and ensures parts of the highest quality.
  • Mold Flow: Mold flow analysis simulates how a material will flow through a mold and how the material will orient within the mold. The simulation exposes potential warp and stress points and can help identify areas where sink marks may appear. It can also help to identify where weld lines will be located within the part. Mold flow is an aid in the development of optimal gate location and size. It allows an injection molder to identify stress areas and increase radii in order to eliminate stress points and perfect the tool before the final stages.
  • IQMS: When IQMS application software is used throughout an organization and the molding process, the system can provide a very efficient way to monitor every single step of every single machine in real time to make certain adjustments can be made at a moment’s notice.

5. Metal to Plastic Conversion

While the concept of metal to plastic conversion isn’t new to the industry, the contributions that this process is making in terms of reducing weight, improving fuel efficiency, increasing strength, as well as chemical and heat resistance are striking. Furthermore, factors such as design flexibility and the use of new and improved polymers is causing more and more companies to consider injection molding to meet their needs.

Before moving forward with a plastic to metal part conversion for your organization, we suggest meeting with an experienced design engineer to determine if such a transition is suitable for your product and application.

6. Design for Manufacturability

We’re also noticing an increase in companies working with their plastic injection molders and engineering teams early in the design process. Collaborating with customers at the genesis of their product offers several benefits, including:

  • Selecting the right material for the application
  • Considering radius and wall thickness
  • Ensuring proper gate location
  • Considering draft
  • Including ribs for strength and durability
  • Properly accounting for mold shrinkage

Not only do these elements ensure a smooth manufacturing process of components and/or finished products, it provides the ability for you to go to market quicker while remaining within your budget.

Injection molding plays a vital role in the development of products that serve a plethora of industries. It’s a fluid manufacturing practice that involves a series of complex processes, but finding the right partner makes all the difference in the success of your part. If you’re unsure of how to benefit from the injection molding trends predicted for the year ahead, contact our knowledgeable design engineers, tooling and production experts today.

 

What Every Product Manufacturer Should Know About Plastic Injection Molding

Injection mold tooling and part production can challenge even the most experienced product manufacturers. In some circumstances, product designers may have minimal experience working with plastics or be managing a design that requires advanced consultation.

It’s important to understand that ultimately, the goal that you and your injection molder should strive to achieve is an optimized mold for the type of plastic, part geometry and finish, desired cycle time, production volume and, of course, highest level of cost effectiveness.

Where do you begin with so many variables? These are the important aspects every product manufacturer should know about plastic injection molding.

The Process:

Plastic injection molding is one of the oldest methods of manufacturing plastics and a critical step in the development of parts for product manufacturers. It’s also a great solution for manufacturers looking to convert heavy metal parts to plastic. Explained in its simplest form, the process uses polymers or plastic resins that when heated, melted and injected under high pressure into a custom mold, will produce plastic parts to be utilized in product manufacturing.

While that process seems straightforward, it can actually be quite complex and requires a high level of experience from an injection molder partner that can cater to your unique industry needs, specifications, end-uses and time / budget constraints. The best place to start is by gaining basic knowledge of the plastic molding process.

Pricing Factors:

Injection molding is one of the most commonly used methods of manufacturing plastic parts because it can be done at a reasonable price and with the use of a large variety of materials. This oftentimes fully-automated process can produce a high rate of output that is typically more budget-friendly than alternative production options. 

Mold Price Factors 

  • Design Strategy: Have a strong understanding of your part’s end use and the requirements for volume, complexity, tolerances, surface finish, gating and molding material will allow your injection molder partner to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for you.
  • Mold Size: It’s a given that larger parts will require a larger mold and generally increase cost. However, there are ways to optimize mold and part design to help reduce cost. An additional consideration is when a part’s material feed system is properly sized, the cost of the injection molded part may be reduced.
  • Offshore vs. Onshore: There are some common misconceptions regarding offshore mold production and cost savings. Oftentimes, offshore mold production does not reduce time or mold / part cost in the long run.

Not only are molds made in the U.S. generally higher quality, sometimes governmental regulations require that tooling be designed and built in the U.S.

In the case where you have a challenging mold build, working with a reputable injection molder in which you can establish a trusting relationship, will save you time and money over the life of the mold and part production. Challenging builds may include multiple cavities, moveable mold components, thin walls, complex textures, gating restrictions, tight tolerances and more.

Part Price Factors

  • Part size: Part size is a factor with larger parts resulting in a greater material cost.
  • Part design: Complex part designs result in an increased tool cost. Working with a knowledgeable design engineer to simplifying part design can lower the cost of the tool. A mold that is well-designed ultimately has lower residual costs over time in addition to lower part reject rates.
  • Material selection: There are many factors that can affect the cost of your material selection. Does the part need to withstand pressure, weight, temperature variations or elements / chemicals? Do any regulatory requirements apply? High performing and specialty resins come with a higher cost. Certain characteristics of your resin can also increase the maintenance cost of your mold.
  • Part tolerance: Parts designed with tight tolerances will require more intricate manufacturing steps which may can increase manufacturing and tool maintenance costs.
  • Volume: It’s obvious that the higher your annual volume, the higher overall cost is for part production. However, it’s important to also consider volume not only in the number of parts, but also hours of production. Parts that will be run at a higher volume, need high quality tools with possibly a higher number of cavities. That said, cost per part typically goes down as volume goes up.
  • Cycle time: Cycle time is another example of where well designed tooling and part cost go hand in hand. Fast machine cycles during the production process require well-designed tooling and a high precision build for a part to cool uniformly throughout the cavity impression.
  • Gate location: Proper gate location is a critical component to part quality. Parts that require design techniques where gates are not at the side of the part may increase tool cost.

Industry Jargon:

Plastic injection molding continues to evolve with advances in technology and resin science. Many important decisions regarding tool build, materials, maintenance and production happens during the communication process between you and your injection molder. Each party should have a strong understanding of short-term and long-term expectations which should be shared early in the design / development process.

Like any profession, no plastic injection molder is the same. While there are certain terms, keywords and phrases with implied meaning, it is helpful to have an understanding of the terminology that will be used throughout the completion of your project.

Early Design Consultation: 

Choosing an experienced injection molder that provides design consultation is one of the most important factors in your production process. Designing a plastic part for manufacturability involves many important facets that touch on all areas of part design, tooling, material selection and production. First, it is essential to build parts around functional needs by keeping design intent or the end use in mind. Consider weight reductions, the elimination of fabrication and assembly steps, improving structural components, reducing costs and getting products to market quicker.

In addition to early design consultation, working with a partner that provides the latest technology in mold flow analysis can save significant time and budget dollars. Mold flow software can be used to evaluate the design to make sure it will produce the most consistent and highest quality parts from each cavity of the tool. A virtual model of the mold is created and, using the known data and characteristics of the chosen material, the software can predict how the material will flow into the mold and its cavities. Different data points can be assessed, including pressure, fill time and melt temperature. Doing so allows for optimization of the process before tool production ever begins.  

The information provided above offers direction and recommendations for understanding the important aspects of injection molding prior to beginning your production process. Regardless of the elements you think your project requires, it is always vital to start with a thorough consultation to evaluate what will work best for your product, budget and timeline.

Injection molding is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Nicolet Plastics is here to help. Contact our knowledgeable design engineers, tooling and production experts to help you get started on your next project.

Fundamentals of Injection Molded Part Surface Finish

Surface finish options for plastic injection molded parts can vary a great deal depending on the part and its chemical make-up. Determining the best surface finish for a part requires communication between your design engineer and injection molder to achieve the desired appearance and performance of the finished part. The surface finish can be a critical factor in either the appearance or performance of your product. Will the finish play a role in creating a more attractive part – or will it simply act as a functional component of the design?

The answer to this question will give the necessary direction in determining the injection molding process to be used as well as any steps in the finishing process that will be required for your part.

Consider these key fundamentals when selecting a surface finish for your injection molded part.

Visual Appeal vs. Functionality

Part designers may choose texture for several aesthetic reasons. Texture can give a part the appearance of depth and a finished look that will grab the attention of customers. In some cases, it may even improve a part’s perceived value.

Textured finishes are valuable because they can be used to hide imperfections such as flow lines, knit lines, blush marks, sinks, and shadow marks. Another great factor is that texture can also provide a surface that may withstand contact damage in shipping and fingerprint smudges from handling.

Beyond the simple aesthetic considerations of texture, it also has a number of functional benefits that include:

  • Using texture to make undercuts. If you have a part that will not consistently come across to the moving half of the mold, texture on some hidden surfaces could give the pull you need.
  • Improved paint adhesion. Paint holds more firmly to a textured part during additional molding operations.
  • Improved grip. Textured parts are easier to hold. This improves usability and can increase safety in certain applications.
  • Better sticker adhesion. Like paint, stickers applied to plastic parts are more likely to stay affixed if the surface has a slight texture.
  • Trapped gasses escape more quickly. When texturing is applied, trapped gasses have the opportunity to escape quickly because venting to parting lines can happen within the cavity.
  • Plastic flow creases can be eliminated. These creases can be eliminated through the addition of textured thickness that also adds strength, non-slip qualities and even adds an increased safety measure.

Working with an experienced injection molder will provide you with the information needed to make the best decision on the right surface finish for your process parameters. Considering the surface finish will impact the type of material used, tooling and other process decisions, it is very important to determine the surface finish as early as possible during the design stage.

Surface Finish Options

There are many more surface finish options available working with a steel mold compared to working with an aluminum mold. Steel can be polished to create a smoother surface finish for your parts. The many options for plastic part surface finishes include:

  • Bead blast
  • Etching
  • Matte finish
  • Leather grains
  • Geometric
  • Graphics
  • Many more

Material Selection

Surface finish should be considered early in the design process because the type of material used can have a significant impact on the type of finish implemented to create the best part for your product. Specifically, gloss and rough finishes can be affected by the material selected, additives, and other parameters such as fill rate, pressure and temperature. In addition, working with an injection molder that utilizes mold flow simulation software will allow you to explore how a material choice will affect surface finish and possible defects prior to the production process.

In the case where a gloss finish is used, material type is especially important. Higher melt temperatures are required for products made from crystalline resins which increase gloss and reduce roughness – creating the smooth surface desired.

A strong knowledge of material science is required when considering additive compounds be mixed into the part material. Depending on the surface finish desired, some additives should be avoided (or substitutes considered). For example, adding certain particulate fillers may increase surface roughness. However, design engineers will have a strong understanding of what can be mixed and matched to create the right combination that produces a surface quality that enhances your part.

Injection Speed & Temperature

Injection speed and temperature affect surface finish for a few reasons. When you combine fast injection speeds with higher melt or mold temperatures, the outcome will be enhanced gloss or smoothness of the part’s surface. In actuality, a fast injection speed improves overall gloss and smoothness. Additionally, quick filling of a mold cavity can produce less visible weld lines and a strong aesthetic quality for your part.

Deciding a part’s surface finish is an integral consideration in the overall product development and should be thought out during the design process to achieve the desired results. Have you considered the end use of your injection molded part?

Let Nicolet Plastics help you decide on a surface finish that improves the aesthetics and functionality of your part.

 

 

5 Questions to Consider Before the Injection Molding Quote Process

If you’re a manufacturer of products that use plastic parts (or metal parts that can be converted to plastic), it’s likely you’ve considered the injection molding quote process.  Injection molders are known for their ability to help product engineers create efficiencies with getting products to market faster and under budget. They also vary in their ability to produce low to high volume parts in a variety of sizes.

Obtaining an injection molding quote is the first step in determining which injection molder is the best fit for your part and unique specifications. In order to streamline your process, consider these questions before requesting an accurate quote for your part design, development and production.

1. Do you have access to CAD drawings or samples of the part to be quoted?

Injection molders can form the most accurate quotes when they have a clear picture of the part they are being asked to make. Ideally, detailed dimensional drawings (CAD drawings), provide very clear information on the size and complexity of a part. Additionally, a sample or prototype can help an injection molder make discoveries early in the process that will maximize design tweaks and the overall manufacturability.

A sketch or concept is very different from a finished part. There are factors leading from design to manufacturing that are important to consider when moving your idea to reality. In fact, many manufacturers cite the design process as the most prevalent area to create cost and time efficiencies in the injection molding process. If you do not have access to CAD drawings or part samples that have been proven in the production process, it is important to choose an injection molder with significant design engineering experience and / or prototyping capabilities. Let them be a resource to make recommendations that will improve the performance of your part.

2. What does the end use of your part look like? Are there any chemical or environmental factors to consider?

Do you have a clear description of the intended use for your plastic part? Having a clear explanation of the intended use will help your injection molder determine the appropriate design tweaks, material and recommendations for part improvements. The information you provide also offers a picture of the wear and tear a part will be exposed to over time and any environmental factors that may contribute to a part breaking down.

3. What quantity is needed?

Quantity projection is an important factor for many injection molders because it may determine if they can, or are willing to run your part. Most injection molders categorize their business as low volume or high volume. Low volume typically constitutes production runs under 10,000 parts, where high volume may include runs over 750,000 parts.

For shorter production runs, aluminum molds might be recommended. However, if your project will require large quantities over time or multiple runs over time, a hardened steel mold would be the best choice. While the upfront cost of hardened steel is greater, it will produce more consistent, higher quality parts – as well as pay for itself over the life of the tool.

4. What is the size and complexity of the part?

Simply put, more intricate part designs require elaborate mold designs, which generally increase the tool cost. Simple part designs require less complexity in the mold design, lowering the cost of the tool. Working with a knowledgeable injection molder with design engineer capabilities and resources early in your production process will help you find efficiencies across every stage of your project.

Also, understanding the size of your part will help your injection molder determine material quantity estimations.

5. What type of material or resin is required for your part?

There are many part design factors that help determine the best material that will drive the cost, function, versatility and production of your parts. Having a basic understanding of materials available and how they react to the environment your part will be exposed can help give you a starting reference point. Your injection molder should offer a detailed explanation of the materials or resins that best suit the unique needs and cost requirements for your production part.

While you don’t need to know all the ins and outs regarding the design, development, tool transfer and production process prior to obtaining a quote for an injection molded part – it’s always good to be prepared with the details related to your specific part’s needs. There’s no doubt that supplying this information to your injection molder will be valuable in every step of the process. Preparing your answers to these five questions will help you be prepared to establish a beneficial relationship with your injection molder.

 

Nicolet Plastics Named an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company in America

Each year, Inc. recognizes the fastest growing private companies in America. Companies that made this year’s list grew (on average), six-fold since 2013 which is an incredible accomplishment considering the economy grew just 6.7 percent in that time.

2017 marks the fourth time Nicolet Plastics has been included on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company in America lists.

“Of the tens of thousands of companies that have applied to the Inc. 5000 over the years, only a fraction have made the list more than once,” said Eric Schurenberg, President & Editor in Chief of Inc. Media. “ A mere one in ten have made the list four times.”

Inc. 5000 represents not only the fastest-growing private companies in America, but companies that create jobs, value and innovative solutions. View the full list here.

6 Considerations Before Choosing a Plastic Injection Molding Part Manufacturer

Plastic Injection MoldingThe manufacturing process can be a complicated one and there are many factors to consider when choosing a plastic injection molding partner that best suits your industry, unique products and production requirements. First and foremost, the best place to start is by gaining basic knowledge of the plastic molding process. Explained in its simplest form, the process uses polymers or plastic resins that when heated, melted and injected under high pressure into a custom mold, will produce plastic parts to be utilized in product manufacturing. While that process seems straightforward, many manufacturers need an injection molder partner that can produce highly complex parts and caters to their unique industry needs, specifications, end-uses and time / budget constraints.

These are the key factors any product manufacturer should consider when choosing a plastic injection molder:

1. Volume Specialization & Capacity:

With over 16,000 injection molders in the U.S., selecting the best molder for your part can seem overwhelming. The best place to start is by narrowing down your options based on your volume and size requirements. Low to moderate volume molders specialize in the production of parts under 10,000 units. Selecting a low to moderate volume molder may be an ideal choice if you need to quickly produce a prototype to test a part.

In addition, low to moderate volume molders are perfect for applications that don’t require hundreds of thousands of parts (such as medical devices, aerospace, agriculture and more), or bridge tooling (tooling that bridges the gap between small production runs for market testing and full-production tooling).

High volume molders specialize in jobs requiring over 750,000 parts and typically produce parts requiring small-sized molds.

2. Compliance with Specifications:

Having to compromise puts product manufacturers in a challenging situation. Regardless of the details involved, there is likely a company that can produce your part without specification sacrifices. Injection molder partners should be able to make strong recommendations based on the specifications you require without having to make significant compromises.

Recommendations should stem from the injection molder’s experience, expertise and knowledge of the latest technologies. Specification changes may include minor design tweaks, alternative resin suggestions, and other ways you can save time and money during the design, development and production process.

3. Expanded Services & Technology:

Not all injection molders offer expanded services or the technology needed to help design parts for manufacturability. Working with a molder who offers prototyping, part design services, quick response manufacturing, in-depth mold flow analysis and more – in addition to their traditional service offerings – will help you create valuable cost and timing efficiencies in regard to getting your product to market.

An important factor to note is that the greatest efficiencies with overall project time and budget happen early in the development cycle – specifically the design process. That’s why it is critical to choose an injection molder that can become involved early in the design process, understand your objectives and can predict production issues before they occur. 

4. Quality & Efficiency:

In addition to complying with your specifications, your injection molder partner should be established and committed to providing the best service possible. Answering these questions will help provide the necessary insight for you and your team to select an injection molder that best suits your company’s needs:

  • Do they own high quality and efficient machines that work well?
  • Have they been recognized in the industry as a manufacturer of status or has the company won awards for performance?
  • Do they focus on the elimination of dysfunctional variability, such as organizational issues that can cause rework?
  • Do they offer a robust mold maintenance program?
  • Is project management software used to ensure the highest level of communication and efficiency throughout every step of the part design and development process?
  • Do your parts need to pass strict inspections or meet high safety and quality standards?
  • Is your injection molder ISO certified?

5. Product Application:

The intended use for your part or product application is critical as should be kept top of mind throughout every step of the design, development and production process. Plastics are an amazing material that can be used for many applications. While there are some circumstances that plastics cannot provide the required strength or tensile stress needed, there are many circumstances that metal parts can actually be converted to plastic to minimize weight and cost. Injection molders should consider a part’s end use to make the best recommendations in regard to design, material and production techniques.

6. Time:

Building a mold for a plastic injection molded part can range from 4-12 weeks. All representatives involved in the process should factor design revisions, part complexity, communication between designers, engineers and other individuals involved in the process, as well as account for unexpected events like shipping delays, etc. It’s always best to communicate your time constraints with an injection molder partner as early as possible to gauge their capacity and ensure you get the final production parts in hand on time.

If you’re like most product manufacturers, you have unique and specific needs. It is crucial to the success of your part that you work with an injection molder that understands your expectations and challenges. Taking these important considerations into account will help you streamline the process of choosing a plastic injection molding part manufacturer.

Are you looking for an experienced, quality-focused injection molder that specializes in low-volume production? Learn how Nicolet Plastics offers customized products and quick response in every stage of your part production.

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