Mold production is a crucial process for manufacturing plastic products, but it can also be a significant cost driver. As a result, many companies are looking for ways to reduce their mold production costs without sacrificing quality. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help achieve this goal. In this article, we will explore six effective ways to reduce your mold production costs, from optimizing the design and material selection to streamlining the production process and leveraging technology. Whether you are a mold manufacturer or a product designer, these tips can help you save money and improve your bottom line.
Take Part Size Into Consideration
Design lean. You should look to accomplish your goal with as little material as possible. Not only will unnecessarily large parts or features increase material costs, but they will also drive up cycle time due to more time needed for molding and cooling. Often less material means more strength when it comes to plastics. Don’t feel the need to increase material usage for structural integrity.
Don’t Use Unnecessary Cosmetics and Features
While you shouldn’t skimp on your features and cosmetics by any means, this doesn’t mean you should add every bell and whistle you can think of either. It’s nice to have a very aesthetically pleasing part, but the extra effort required in the mold you’ll be using can sometimes cut deeply into your profit margin.
For instance, if you want extra features on your part, you may need extra mold work to be done, such as EDM, bead blasting, or high mold polishing to achieve the specific cosmetic appearance you are seeking. This extra work can drastically impact cost-reduction efforts.
At a smaller level, including company logos, textured surfaces, and molded part numbers are all features that, if deemed unnecessary, are penny pinchers that can help when pricing out injection molding costs.
Design for Manufacturability Analysis
Whether or not you can identify opportunities for improvement in a DFM analysis, finding an experienced partner or molder who can save you tremendous amounts of time and money in the long run. Identifying problems in the early stages such as impossible geometries, insufficient draft angles, and moldable features will eliminate financial and cosmetic expenditures along the way. Companies such as New Berlin Plastics provide an expertise and knowledge base essential to help improve and perfect your injection mold.
Intelligent Mold Design
You can save money by partnering with a molder who will intelligently design your molds. How your part is positioned in the mold can have a significant impact on cost. Proper part positioning optimizes how the mold fills and can reduce scrap. You can also design out excess material usage by positioning the part in a way that would remove the need for a sprue and runner. This reduced material usage directly translates to reduced cost. Intelligent mold design also ensures your part won’t be damaged during the ejection process.
Modify Your Molds
Instead of having to buy an entirely new mold for every revision you make, a bit of clever planning can help you reuse a mold multiple times. By designing tool inserts you can mold various versions and features. MUD tooling, another popular modification method, creates a small, 5”x8” mold that is engulfed by the existing base/body. This smaller mold is extremely helpful as it saves costs by requiring less of an investment in the tooling. These methods are much preferred to cutting multiple tools and offer significant savings.
Family or Multi-Cavity Mold
Another way to reduce costs related to tooling is designing a family or multi-cavity mold. Depending on part similarity, material selection, and processing requirements you may be able to include more than one part in your mold. This will increase the cost of the tool but it will be marginal when compared to cutting separate tooling for each part.
Multi-cavity molding lends itself to high production requirements. The more cavities you have in a tool the more parts you’re able to create each cycle. While this will drive up initial costs related to tooling it will lead to lower part prices and lower costs overall in the long run.
Injection molding is a very straightforward process that may not seem like it has much room for cost-reduction techniques, but if you ask the pros, they will tell you otherwise.