Injection Molding! Lets make alot of plastic parts!

So you’ve made some parts on a 3D printer and are ready to move to the next stage, Injection Molding, but you’re not wanting to make an initial order of 50,000 units and you don’t want to invest upwards of $10000 for a mold. What to do? Thats where Low Volume Injection Molding comes into play.

Low Volume Injection Molding fills in the void (get the joke?) between 3D printing and production level Injection Molding. LVIM offers higher quality parts, higher volumes, and lower per cost part then 3D printing while not requiring huge upfront costs associated with molds and min orders associated with production molding.

Whoa¬†whoa whoa, this sounds like someone trying to sell an herbal remedy and saying ‘it’ll cure all your ails’, whats the catch. We don’t want to make LVIM sound like the perfect solution, its not going to be the best fit for everyone, so listed below are the main draw backs that we see.

Draw Backs:

-Currently the molds we make and use aren’t compatible with the big boy molders. The machine we use isn’t a production molder and the molds it uses are built differently for a handful of reasons.

-Per part cost will be higher then that of the big boy molders. Our process is much more labor intensive, our machine is manually operated and thus doesn’t produce parts nearly as fast as a production molder and requires an attentive operator.

-Limited selection of surface finishes. We don’t polish our molds (reduce costs) so the parts won’t have a mirror finish, most of the time that isn’t an issue but some people may want that.

-Limited injection volume. Much to our frustration we can’t inject a whole bunch of plastic at once and thus the volume of the part is limited (even though the manufacturer of our machine says you can inject a larger volume you can’t….). As injection molding, in its essence, is shoving molten plastic into a void it is important to fill the void fast enough that the first bit of plastic injected is still molten when the last bit of plastic is injected, if not you get crappy parts. Unfortunately our machine has a very slow injection rate so as part volume increases part crappiness also increases.

Advantages:

-Order as many as you want (well not 20000 haha), if you only want 10 parts no problem, if you want 400 parts no problem.

-Lower Mold Costs. We machine our molds out of Aluminum opposed to Tool Steel as Aluminum is cheaper and so much faster/easier to machine.

-Cross Slides and undercuts. Due to the construction of our molds its easier for us to add cross slides then it is for production molds.