No matter what upcoming projects you may have as an injection mold builder or injection molder, there is a good chance that you are looking for ways to save money – improving your injection molds or molding process. While the steps required to complete a project may be diverse and specific demands targeted to unique manufacturing requirements, there are many ways to apply lean principles and enhance cost savings – job to job and application to application. Adding to the challenge, “savings” can vary depending on where manufacturers are looking to cut costs and reduce expenses. To help simplify the presentation of ideas that can help save money, we will look at the topical solutions and then expand from there.
Follow Best Practices
While this may seem like an obvious first step, many manufacturers are astounded by how often competition and even their own companies follow best practices. Some common reasons that are cited for these infractions include a lack of time or that teams did not even know what best practices exist. Simply put, any parts designed and manufactured with best practices in mind are more efficient, suffer from fewer errors, and leave the production floor quicker. For manufacturers that are unfamiliar with what best practices are in place, some things to consider include:
- Design with Draft – Incorporate a slight angle into the walls of molded parts to enable easier core movement and part ejection, and possibliy a more uniform part during each production run.
- Round Corners – Rounded corners allow material to flow more easily through a mold cavity and will provide a higher-quality part.
- Create Uniform Thickness – The uniform thickness of a mold wall can help improve material flow while also ensuring consistent hardening. With variations in wall thickness, uneven cooling may be unavoidable.
Simplify Mold Designs
Investing in greater mold simplicity (i.e.: fewer features and geometrical differences) will always make it easier and cheaper to complete a production run. It is important to take an objective look at your product design and remove any unnecessary features or design aspects that are not critical for the part to function successfully. While this can be difficult for designers that have poured their soil into the finished design, it can ensure substantial cost savings that are passed down during the material selection and manufacturing process. Therefore, it is up to injection molding partners to suggest this approach whenever cost becomes an issue for customers.
Consider Manufacturing Volume
As most manufacturers know, the higher the volume of parts needed, the lower the cost per part will be. Unfortunately, this does not help much if a client only needs a run or 10,000 parts of less. For smaller product runs, consider investing in other potential mold materials that may decrease costs. Instead of a steel mold, consider other metal alternatives that may not provide longevity but will cut the costs required for a single production run, such as aluminum. However, the best approach may be to encourage your customers to invest in a larger production run whenever possible to ensure the lowest cost per part.
Improve Technology and Processes
For manufacturers that are looking to expand their bottom line or pass savings on to their customers, it is important to ensure that you have the technologies to expand the mold processing window and ensure success the first time. KOR-LOK Side Action Systems are an easy way to improve core preload, even at zero PSI, to allow greater process flexibility and eliminate flash or other discrepancies that result in wasted materials. Moving core actions outside the mold base may allow significant mold size reductions and the ability to run in a smaller press at much lower costs per part. KOR-LOK Hydraulic Locking Cylinders and our Hydra-Jaws Quick Mold Change systems allow for improved performance and faster mold changes on aluminum and steel molds, helping reduce costs for your next injection molding project and ensure your customers are getting the best-finished parts possible.
PFA, Inc. is sure to have the solutions manufacturers need to cut costs and save money on their next injection molding project. Any manufacturers that have questions about the products or services provided by PFA, Inc. and the unique ways they can improve the plastic injection molding process for medical, automotive, and other products should visit our product pages or contact us to learn how PFA, Inc. can help. We look forward to hearing from you!