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Don’t Design For Injection Molding Without Reading These 5 Tips
Feb 03, 2018

1) Don’t forget the necessities of the process. A quick refresher on the injection molding process: Two halves of a mold are hollowed with a negative image of your part. Hot, liquefied plastic or rubber is injected into the mold and allowed to cool. Once the plastic injection mold design is cooled, the two halves of the mold are pulled apart, and the part is released.

2) Consider wall thickness. Some shops will tell you that they can only produce injection mold parts with a uniform wall thickness. While this can make it easier to manufacture parts, it is not integral to the process. It is, however, true that different wall thicknesses can make for a more difficult process. This is because of the cooling process mentioned above: thicker wall areas will cool and solidify more slowly than thinner areas. Combined with the shrinkage factor during the cooling process, this means that improperly designed molds and products can be subject to uncooled, still-liquefied substrate running to areas of the part where it should not be located.

3) Incorporate draft. When you pop an ice cube out of a tray, you’re seeing the concept of draft at work. Each individual cube cavity in the tray is tapered to allow for a smooth exit process, eliminating the need to try and pry the cube out of the tray. Draft in your injection molded product design serves the same purpose.

4) Build in texture. Rather than adding a second finishing process after injection molding to create texture on your product, you can incorporate the desired finish, pattern or texture right into the mold. By etching or milling the mold to create a finish, you gain a much greater degree of control and uniformity over the look and feel of your part, which saves some time and money by incorporating two processes into one.

5) Know your materials. This tip really plays into most of what has been covered already in this piece, but it’s important to remember: Material selection is one of the most critical considerations in designing your piece it factors into many aspects of the process, including shrinkage factor, cooling time, flexibility and more.