6 Tips to Control Injection Molding Part Costs

PlasticPartBudget is one of the most important factors a manufacturer faces with getting a product to market as quickly as possible. Designing a plastic part for manufacturability involves considerations that can ultimately have a significant impact on cost. Whether you are in the initial design phase, prototyping or production, controlling injection molding costs requires analyzing of various factors. Here are a few tips to help you control plastic injection molding costs:

Collaboration:

Over the years, collaboration has taken a different form with the introduction of robust project management software. Working with a plastics manufacturer who incorporates highly effective project management software can create efficiencies within every phase of the planning and production process. With every step in injection molding building upon the next, communication and collaboration are key factors to addressing customer’s primary stress points such as timeline and budget.

Collaboration begins at the quoting state when individuals from both sides including designers, engineers and other experts will need to provide input that will help keep part budgets within or under budget.

Optimized Mold Design:

How many times have you encountered an issue in production that was the result of inadequate mold design? If the issue persists or is unresolvable with various tactics, you may have to modify or re-create the mold – both of which are expensive solutions. To avoid these costly situations, it is essential to review mold design in the early stages.

Additionally, in mold design it is beneficial to be able to produce as many parts as possible in a single shot. The ability for the plastic to eject quickly without wasting time / movements is another critical cost-savings factor.

Integrating the issues and recommendations identified in the design and simulation phases are a key aspect of effective mold design review. However, a mold’s true performance also relies on part design.

Optimize Part Design:

-Wall Thickness

Wall thickness is one of the most important factors with part design. The first rule of thumb is to determine the minimum wall thickness that will meet your design requirements. It is always good practice to work with our injection molder / design engineer to check thickness specifications for the material(s) you are considering for your part. Typical wall thickness ranges from .04 – .150 for most resins.

Important wall-thickness facts:

  • Thinner walls require easier flowing plastics
  • Longer flow lengths (distance from nozzle to the furthest corner of the part) may require thicker walls

-Undercuts

Undercuts are a feature that can add to part complexity and cost, and in some cases can even prevent part ejection. This feature is created by including holes or snaps and should be eliminated when possible. One solution would be to work with your design engineer and injection molder to include a side action, sliding shutoff or pick out.

Using sliding shutoffs, pass-through cores or by changing the parting line and draft angles may provide an easier mold build. These also reduce tooling and manufacturing costs.

-Draft

Draft is a design feature that must be added to the walls of all injection molded parts. Allocating sufficient draft not only makes it easier to remove a part from a mold, it also minimizes tool wear. Without draft, parts may stick in the mold. Having 1 degree of draft is a good starting point, however, there are considerations that may determine exactly how much draft is needed. Drafting internal features like ribs and bosses is always good practice. Remember – the more draft, the better.

While draft facilitates the removal of the part from the mold, it is particularly important in rapid injection molding to maintain parting lines, part quality and tool functionality. It typically takes working with an experienced design engineer to know how much and where to add draft.

-Gating

Each plastic part design must have a runner and ‘gate’, or a path and opening that allows the molten plastic to be injected into the cavity of the mold. Gate type, design and location can have effects on the part such as part packing, gate removal or vestige, cosmetic appearance of the part, and part dimensions & warping.

It is essential for a part designer and molder to work together to determine where the runner and gating system should be placed. To allow for the shortest overall flow length (the distance plastic flows from the gate to the outer most point of the part), gates should typically be placed at the center of a part.

If more than one gate is needed, the gates should be placed to both reduce the flow length, and must take into account the parting line created by plastic from each gate meeting. A ‘parting line’ is the line of separation on the plastic part where the two halves of the plastic injection mold meet. Ideally a part designer will account for the parting lines by designing the part in such a way that any blemish is visible on a non-cosmetic surface.

-Material Selection:

There are many resins that can be injection molded – but it is important to consider design intent and particularly what the piece needs to accomplish. For example, does the part need to be firm or pliable? Will the part be exposed to elements like extreme heat or cold? What safety factors should be considered?

The newest, most innovative materials may not be the best fit for your particular part – and may add more cost to the overall project. Working with a design engineer who is familiar to resin characteristics and behaviors when molded, will help you pick the material that best fits your needs and may save you critical time and budget in the long run.

-Mold Flow:

Working with your injection molder to perform a flow simulation is an important step in verifying part design. Flow study allows designers and engineers the opportunity to strategize gate location, runner layout, as well as optimize water placements. The level of simulation needed depends on part complexity.

-Minimize Finishes & Coatings:

Finishes and coatings include textures or patterns that leave an imprint on a molded part’s surface and are often used to reduce surface wear. Finishes, however, can add to cost with medium to high cosmetic finishes (where tooling marks are removed and the surface is textured or polished) and high quality clear finishes being the most costly.

Overall, managing the design and complexity of your part can play a huge role in the overall time and cost. If your part has many variables that need to be addressed, your design engineer and injection molding partner should provide insight regarding what can or cannot be eliminated. Time efficiencies will come with simplified designs that are optimized to fit your time, budget and product needs.

How have you overcome challenges with design and controlling part production costs?

To learn how Nicolet Plastics, Inc. can help, please contact Bob Gafvert at bob.gafvert@nicoletplastics.com.

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Benefits of Metal to Plastic Conversion for Agricultural Parts

metaltoplasticMetal to plastic conversion processes have been used for decades; however, many manufacturers have not considered all the benefits that can be applied to improve products. Guided by the ability to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, automotive and aerospace companies have been among the most active in converting metal to plastic. Another industry highly impacted by metal to plastic part conversion is agriculture. With advancements in design, engineered plastics can be just as strong and chemical and heat resistant which makes plastic a great option for fluid handling systems and other high-temperature applications. Here are a few other benefits that manufacturers of agricultural products will see with a metal to plastic part conversion.

1. Design Flexibility:

One of the greatest aspects of converting metal agricultural parts to plastic is the design freedom that is created in the process. It is recommended to work closely with an experienced injection molder and design engineer to gain an understanding of the features that should be taken into account to maintain a complex structural design for your part. Specifically, it’s more efficient to create complex parts out of plastic than metal because injection molding easily allows for under-cuts, threads, ports and tight tolerances.

The design flexibility also enables greater strength in plastic parts. With the ability to mold in features for structural strength like ribs, bosses and gussets, strength can be increased without adding additional cost.

2. Weight:

Reducing part weight with a metal to plastic conversion is another big advantage of the process. Reducing part weight by using plastic gives you more parts per pound of material, significantly reduces shipping costs, and oftentimes improves the end-user’s ease of use with the product. Additionally, in some applications reducing part weight can improve gas mileage and boost recycling opportunities.

3. Cost:

In general, agricultural product manufacturers will see an overall cost reduction for metal to plastic part conversion. There are several ways that cost reduction comes into play throughout the design and injection molding process:

• Multiple metal parts can be replaced by one injection-molded part made of durable, engineered plastic – eliminating the need for fasteners and assembly
• Colors can be added to the plastic polymer, eliminating secondary operations for painting or laser marking
• The need to weld, grind, and add dent and scratch resistance and noise dampening is eliminated

4. New and Improved Polymers:

The continuing advancements in polymer development have enticed many product engineers and designers to evaluate the use of traditional materials such as metal. New and improved polymers have allowed part manufacturers and injection molders the ability to produce parts that were once thought of as impossible to create with plastic.

Advanced polymers with specific fillers and reinforcements also allow engineers the ability to add a significant amount of structural integrity to molded parts. With the proper selection and design optimization, plastic parts can be as strong as metal.

Before moving forward with a plastic to metal part conversion, it is important to meet with an injection molder to determine if the transition is suitable for your product. This process requires considerable analysis that keeps the end use, cost, environmental conditions and manufacturability in mind. Analyzing the benefits for conversion and the real-world environmental impact will help you make the best material choice for your agricultural part.

Are you considering a metal to plastic part conversion? Let Nicolet Plastics walk you through an efficient evaluation process.

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3 Reasons to Get Your Molder Involved in the Plastic Part Design Process

factory molding machine workshop. close up

When plastic part designers take a collaborative approach to involve mold makers early in the design process, many cost and time to market benefits are realized. Working with an injection molder who can provide expertise and recommendations throughout the design project to ensure your part is developed with the intended use, quality, budget and timeframe in mind will greatly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

The most successful parts are created when there is constant communication between a part designer, tool designer and manufacturer. With open consultation and communication, the team can avoid project delays and create efficiencies.

Designing a production-ready part goes beyond aesthetic and function. Here are three important considerations when optimizing a part for manufacturability:

  1. Smart Design & Material Selection

The most important first step in part design and material selection is to consider the environment in which the part will be used. This is called design intent – or the intended use of the completed part. What will the wear and tear be for the part? What temperatures will it be exposed to? Consulting with an experienced molder will help you make informed decisions about the most innovative and widely used materials to ensure your part performs at the highest level. Additionally, specialized tool designers can help you take the following design elements (among many others) into consideration:

  • Part Shape
  • Mold Design
  • Draft
  • Uniform Wall Thickness
  • Radii 
  1. Efficient Mold Design & Fabrication

A part designer and mold maker should work hand in hand to create a mold that will produce a successful part. Molding experts provide invaluable insight not only on how to produce the best part, but also how to get the mold made quickly and cost efficiently. Using design software, designers and engineers can create a mold blueprint and as part design and material selection are tested, can help with making critical adjustments.

A mold needs to be designed around a part and specific factors taken into consideration such as: Where is the gate(s) located and what is the optimal size? How will the part be ejected? Most often, computer simulation techniques such as Mold Flow Analysis are used to provide a predictive analysis and measurement to determine the success or failure of a part. Additionally, the analysis shows how the material will orient with the mold as well as expose potential warp and stress points.

  1. Benefit of Working with a Trusted Partner

Relying on an experienced molder to provide guidance and recommendations during the design and development process can save you significant time and cost for a project. Many service providers do not factor in the costs associated with material testing, radius adjustments, diameters and more. A lack of flexibility or inability to provide what is needed to produce a successful part is another roadblock that manufacturers run in to when trying to take a quick and lowest cost route.

Do your research and have a good understanding of your molder’s expertise and services provided. Working with a partner that will listen to your needs and has the expertise to make cost-saving recommendations throughout the project process, will not only save you money, but time as well.

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4 Ways Quick Response Manufacturing Has Changed Plastic Injection Molding

Injection molders and the manufacturers who rely on their services face many challenges in regard to an increasingly competitive global workforce. Smart injection molders who have had the means to make sizable capital investments to improve quality and efficiency have been able to counter competitive pressures while providing better service and products for their customers.

New machines, advanced automation, sophisticated material handling as well as innovative processes such as Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) are some of the ways that injection molders in the U.S. have not only matched the work taking place overseas, but exceeded in the areas of conceptual part design, low to mid volume production, flawless execution and accelerated lead time delivery. Without a doubt, in recent years QRM has changed manufacturers’ expectations for plastic injection molders.

How do you know if your injection molder employs QRM techniques? Here are 4 important characteristics:

1. Manufacturing costs remain competitive with offshore alternatives for low to moderate volume business. When QRM strategies are put into place, injection molders ditch the old way of viewing production including everything from staffing to batch size and run times, to managing job complexity and improving customer service.

There is no question that time is money in manufacturing and with quicker responsiveness, the customer is given what they want at quantities that allow them to lower inventories and improve cash flow.

2. Cross-trained workforce that quickly responds to unexpected changes in demand. Modifications to production staffing and job responsibilities can make a significant impact on an injection molder’s ability to create efficiencies and cost savings for a customer. A QRM approach allows production employees to ignore job titles and align skills needed to create an ideal shift.

In addition to creating a more efficient and lean production floor, reducing batch sizes and reconfiguring part run cycles is a key practice. This allows both long and short runs to be completed in conjunction with one another, without creating backlogs and queues. For example, long jobs may be “Time Sliced”to allow a more efficient use of all resources. Others may be scheduled to run unattended using automation (lights-out weekend production) with a press technician on-call to be sent an automated message or text for assistance only if an issue arises.

3. Open capacity in all areas of the business. The amazing benefit of cross-training a production workforce is the capacity openings that occur in all areas of an injection molding business. It also allows every employee to benefit from the opportunity and incentives that come from automation and technology improvements.

By cross training a production team, the business has a lot of individuals with broad skill sets to rely on. When bottlenecks occur, and there is an area in which more workers need to flow in to, the talent is there to ensure orders move quickly through the system.

4. Reduced lead times. An injection molding business that embraces QRM philosophy and implementation standards will reduce lead times for its customers. Reducing lead time goes hand in hand with staying under budget and remaining globally competitive.

Its about looking outside of a single paradigm and adapting to new ways of doing things while investing in innovative manufacturing processes – that is when time is eliminated from the process and customers benefit from the outcome.

Incorporating QRM strategies cross-functionally is a clear differentiator in regard to the time and cost savings provided to customers. As global competition continues to increase, injection molders need to not only invest in the latest technology and software, but also adopt innovative practices such as QRM to stay ahead and provide a better overall experience for the manufacturers they serve.

Learn more about how Nicolet Plastics Quick Response Manufacturing processes are transforming the future of plastic injection molding.

A Manufacturer's Guide To Plastic Injection Molding

13th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run • June 18, 2016

piratelogo2016

The 13th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run will soon be upon us! Have you started your training yet? This year’s event will be held on Saturday June 18th, 2016 beginning at 9 AM and will again circle around scenic Maiden Lake. Co-Sponsors for this event, Nicolet Plastics and the Pirates of the Northwoods Parrot Head Club.

The event has been able to donate almost $66,000 to area emergency response departments since the event began in 2003. Besides being a way to raise needed funds for the area departments, it also provides an opportunity for friends and family to get some exercise and enjoy each other’s company while taking in the scenic beauty of Maiden Lake as participants make their way around the 4.37 mile route. Mark your calendar and plan on joining us for this year’s event.

Sign up forms will be available beginning April 1st at Lakewood Super Valu, Nicolet Plastics and other area businesses. You can also sign up online again this year by clicking 2016 Online Registration. Also, if you participated last year, you will be receiving a sign up form via mail or email. So find your exercise clothes, start training and pray for sunshine on June 18th !!

Join us on June 18th, 2016 as we walk or run around our 4.37 mile course along the edges of beautiful Maiden Lake in the Heart of the Nicolet Forest, Mountain, WI. We are situated about 80 miles northwest of Green Bay, or 40 miles east of Antigo and west of Marinette. Make weekend plans to stay overnight through the Lakewood Area Chamber Website

Teams
Corporate and local businesses are invited to sponsor teams. Come on out! Teams of 4 or more – $20 per person. Must register by May 27th to receive this price. Click here to download registration form.

SPONSORS
Proceeds from our event will go to the Riverview Area Emergency Services. Contact LeeAnn at (715) 276-4269 or Email LeeAnn Anderson, with questions or if you are interested in being a sponsor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicolet Plastics, Inc. expands its use of EMI Shielding Plastic Compounds.

Nicolet Plastics has developed expertise in providing reliable EMI/RFI shielding in applications where electromagnetic compatibility is required. In working with specialty compounds and unique processes, Nicolet is providing customers intrinsically safe products that metals are unable to achieve. In addition, this approach removes the cost and secondary processes of coatings, saving customers weeks of time to finished product.

We are finding that new regulations are driving new expectations and requirements for designers and manufacturers to integrate shielding into product designs.

EMI shielding can provide protection to components from incoming EMI, and RF. Multiple compounds allow designers to achieve the expectations required, and provide flexibility in design that traditional coating methods limit. Nicolet has provided cost and time savings opportunities to customers through introducing stainless steel fiber with the plastic compounds, providing the shielding required.

Opportunities abound to incorporate flame and wear additives to meet your application requirements while decreasing lead times.

Mining, Agriculture, Medical, Electronics, Energy, and the Industrial OEM marketplaces are all opportunities for incorporating EMI and RF shielding, as more and more equipment is connected and powered every day.

If you are interested in learning more about Nicolet Plastics, Inc. and our success with providing injection molded plastic parts with shielding built into the component, please contact Bob Gafvert, Business Development Manager at bob.gafvert@nicoletplastics.com

Working with the Chamber of Commerce connects Gamber Johnson and Nicolet Plastics, Inc.

The Wausau Chamber of Commerce recently connected two member companies, and the end result has been a successful partnership. What can working with your local Chamber do for you ?

Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year (2015) Nominees Announced

Nominee List-WMOTY 2015

The Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year-2015 nominees were recently announced, and Nicolet Plastics, Inc. is one of the companies receiving this distinction.

This is the 3rd time in the last 4 years that Nicolet Plastics, Inc. has been nominated.

Thirty-eight Wisconsin manufacturers have been nominated for the 28th Annual Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year awards.

The MOTY program acknowledges a diverse assortment of manufacturers of all sizes and industries for their significant economic improvements to the great state of Wisconsin. A total of four Grand Award winners will be chosen based on company size.

The accounting and advisory firm of Baker Tilly, the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, and the business association Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sponsor the MOTY awards program. The sponsors will celebrate this year’s nominees and reveal winners at a ceremony on February 25. 2016, at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. MOTY_logo-nominee28TH Annual

Standardized SMED Carts and the Impact on Time !

Joe Fricke of Nicolet Plastics, Inc. was recently interviewed for his winning SMED cat desgin !

http://www.plasticsbusinessmag.com/stories/030515/smed-carts.shtml#.VQM9_GDwu00solutions1

Having the right tools available during changeovers can significantly impact the time it takes to accomplish the task. Standardized SMED carts ensure the tools are at hand, reducing the back-and-forth that often occurs as technicians realize the equipment needed is next to another machine or missing altogether.

MAPP and a Plant Tour to Nicolet Plastics, Inc.-Fun With a Purpose

The Value of Plant Tours-MAPP Comes to Nicolet Plastics

Recently Nicolet Plastics, Inc. hosted a plant tour with leadership and members of MAPP. This experience and the value of a plant tour was captured by Don Loepp of Plastics News.

Quick Response Manufacturing and Nicolet Plastics, Inc.  experience as a Fast, FLuid, and Flexible Injection Molder of Choice were on display.

Check out the link above to learn more about the experience and the value of MAPP.

 

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