Many manufacturers need a large number of custom made plastic parts in order to complete a new product, but businesses don’t always know the best way to produce such a large number of plastic parts in a short amount of time.

The answer: Custom injection molding.

This process is the No. 1 way to produce a large quantity of high-quality, low-cost plastic parts for your business’ next major project.

By having ICOMold’s engineers create a custom mold of your plastic part, we’re able to produce thousands of custom plastic parts for your business in a short amount of time. By injecting molten plastic into a custom injection mold, our machines are capable of producing parts in a matter of seconds. This will help you meet deadlines and keep your assembly lines running at all times.

When you work with ICOMold, there are two ways we can help you produce a custom injection molding:
1. We can produce the mold in our facility, mold your parts and ship them directly to your business, or
2. We can build and ship a custom mold (“export mold”) to your business so you can manufacture your plastic parts in-house.

Best of all, custom injection molding can be used for virtually anything. As one of the leading plastic injection molders, ICOMold has produced custom plastic molds for businesses in the medical, automotive, food and packaging industries, along with many others.

To learn how we can produce custom plastic injection molds and parts for your business’ next project, give us a call at 419-867-3900 or email sales@icomold.com. You can also get an instant quote online.

ICOMold is a plastic molding manufacturer that uses a complex plastic injection molding process to produce thousands of plastic parts each day in various shapes and sizes.

The process requires an injection molding machine and has four steps. These steps can take anywhere from two seconds and two minutes to complete, depending on how large the molds are and the efficiency of the machine.

Here we outline the process so you have a better idea of how ICOMold is able to produce your plastic parts.

Step 1: Clamping

A special mold is designed to produce the customer’s plastic part. The mold has two halves that are pressed together using a hydraulic clamp. The clamp holds the mold in place during the injection and cooling processes and will open the mold once the plastic piece has been fully created.

Step 2: Injection

This is when raw plastic pellets are fed from a funnel-shaped hopper into the injection molding machine. Once in the machine, an auger screw pushes the pellets through a barrel where the plastic is heated and injected from the nozzle into the mold quickly and with high pressure. This is done for two reasons: 1. the added pressure packs as much plastic into the mold as possible, and 2. the cooling process takes place immediately.

Step 3: Cooling

As soon as the molten plastic hits the mold, the cooling process begins. This is when the plastic hardens into the shape of the mold. The mold cannot be opened at any point during the cooling process and the amount of time needed for a part to fully cool can vary from piece to piece.

Step 4: Ejection

Once cooled, the mold is opened and the plastic part is ejected out of the mold. Sometimes a lubricant is sprayed into the mold before the process begins to prevent pieces from sticking to the mold.

After the plastic piece is fully ejected from the mold, the hydraulic clamp pushes the mold together and the process starts over for the next piece to be formed.

If you would like to know more about plastic injection molding or think your company can use our services, give us a call at 419-867-3900 or email sales@icomold.com.

For almost 15 years, ICOMold has produced quality plastic injection molded parts for customers around the world using custom injection molding. We’ve fielded a variety of questions during that time, but here’s one you might not expect:

“What is the difference between injection molding plastic products and injection moulding plastic products?”

The answer is simple: There is no physical difference.

The reason for the spelling difference is that American English uses molding, and British English uses moulding. As a worldwide company, it is easy for ICOMold customers to be accustomed to one spelling and think the other spelling means something entirely different. For example, the spelling with a “u” is used in American English to refer to the crown or baseboard moulding used on the interior walls of homes. So plastic moulding must be crown moulding made out of plastic, right?

In the end, both phrases, “plastic injection molding” and “plastic injection moulding” have the same meaning: we take melted plastic and inject it into a mold, where it cools and hardens to produce a desired shape. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion you have about the difference in spelling between molding and moulding.

To learn more about plastic injection molding, or to contact one of our sales representatives, call 419-867-3900 or email sales@icomold.com.

Export MoldExport mold. That’s what we call an injection mold tool that we build in China and ship somewhere else. When we build a plastic injection molding tool for a customer, the customer owns the tool because they paid for it, but it usually stays in our manufacturing plant in China so we can run parts for the customer whenever they need them.

However, sometimes the customer wants us to send the mold over here to the United States so they can run the parts in their own facility or at some other injection molding facility. So, we call it an “export mold” because we’re exporting it out of China to somewhere else.

But is “export mold” really the best term we can come up with for this type of situation? If you think about it, it may not be the most descriptive name. Since the customer is taking physical possession of the tool, maybe we should call it a “customer mold.” But then again, since the customer always owns the tool no matter where it resides, you could say that all our tools are “customer molds.”

Or how about “custom mold?” We are making a custom mold for the customer, that no one else can use, and shipping it to them for their own use. Nope, that doesn’t work either. We don’t make and sell our own parts; we only make custom parts for our customers, so ALL our molds are custom molds.

“Displaced mold?” “Relocated mold?” Hmm. Guess we’re stuck with “export mold” for now, unless someone can come up with a more descriptive term. Do you have one? Maybe we should have a contest to see who can come up with a different name for them!

Smart Manufacturing is talked about quite a bit. It goes by other names, too, like the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT (IIoT), and Industry 4.0. The term IoT was first coined by Peter T. Lewis in 1985 to describe “the integration of people, processes, and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices.”

So the term has been around for a while now, but the concept still continues to develop and evolve as technology continues to advance through new hardware like sensors, and through the collection and analysis of data. So, how have the advancements in smart manufacturing affected the plastic injection molding business? This article takes a look at the topic.

Benefits of Smart Manufacturing

Smart factories use smart manufacturing to gain production efficiencies, improve production quality and reduce time to market. Machines can now communicate failure points and collect data that can be used to improve predictive and preventative maintenance, which in the long run improves uptime. Data analysis is used to predict and prevent failure; it indicates when intervention is required and recommends the necessary corrective actions. Troubleshooting is more efficient, which benefits both manufacturers and customers.

Sensors, Connectivity and Data

The entire concept of smart manufacturing in injection molding revolves around collecting and analyzing the data. Sensors collect the data and networks transport the data. If a device or piece of equipment on the floor is standalone, it will not contribute to the collective knowledge of the smart factory. Devices and machinery equipped with sensors have the ability to monitor, collect, exchange and analyze data – all without human interaction. The sensors collect data, and communicate better information on the plant floor, as well as outside the plant (or from the outside in) faster, in order to make easier decisions.

Every device that has the ability to gather intelligence needs to be on a backbone of some type that allows it to produce data or have data pulled out of it. New sensor networks can be established, or sensors and data networking can be added to existing devices. The goal in injection molding is to connect the equipment on the plant floor to a network that can monitor, measure, store, and retrieve data.

As for the data itself, decisions need to be made that make the most sense for the injection molder. How and where to house the data is one such decision – should it be kept in-house, or outside of the company walls? Data security is of paramount concern, so if data is stored off premises, remote connectivity and how to safely get into your system from the outside needs to be addressed.

Plastics, in Particular

Since plastics is the third largest sector in the manufacturing industry, it warrants special consideration in the IIoT as it impacts manufacturers and their customers. In terms of injection molding complex components, the data gathered and analyzed can help ensure maximum repeatability in the injection molding process, consistent quality, and low defects. And again, the data also helps determine preventative machine maintenance which helps avoid unplanned downtime.

From the customer perspective, smart manufacturing provides many benefits for communication and visibility. Machine data collection and reporting gives the customer important timing information on project and production order status.

And so it goes. The drive to glean more – and better – data from industrial equipment and systems will continue to improve productivity in the plastic injection molding sector as technology, sensors, and systems continue to evolve, to the benefit of the molders and their customers.

Guest blog by Premier Plastics Systems

One of the primary pieces of equipment that most plastic manufacturing companies purchase is the injection molding machine, also known as an injection process. For beginners, this machine is used to manufacture plastic products by the injection molding process, and is composed of two major components: the injection unit and the clamping unit.

It’s a critical investment for most manufacturers, and as such, thorough planning is essential to ensure that the investment will be maximized. Because this machine doesn’t come cheap, however, not many companies can afford to buy a brand-new unit. That is why some manufacturers opt to buy a second-hand unit instead.

Selecting the right and quality used injection molding machine is not always a straightforward task. One should be cautious of vendors that offer a machine that looks like new when in fact it is already defective. This can cost a business a huge amount of money due to defective outputs and disruption in operations.

On the flip side, there are still vendors that offer used injection molding machines that can still function fairly well. Though it may only be a second-hand unit, used injection molding equipment, when bought from a reputable vendor, can perform its job long enough to provide an ROI in a reasonable amount of time.

To guide you in buying a used high-quality injection molding equipment, here are the key takeaways from the visual guide below:

1. Know the difference between a used and refurbished unit. A refurbished unit has been fixed, cleaned, and readied for long life, while used equipment is more of a gamble.

2. Research. Remember that a used machine is priced lower than brand-new units and that they tend to have some problems like loose parts or faulty components. Knowing the parts that need to be replaced will give you an idea how easily you can find a spare part and how much would it cost you.

3. Decide where to buy. You can either go to manufacturer’s representatives – those that take used machines for trade-ins – or buy and sell vendors which can be easily found on the web.

To know more about this, check this infographic from Premier Plastics Systems.

initials on shirt cuffs

Mass customization: Same shirts, different initials

Before the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, skilled workers made custom, one-of-a-kind products that we’d call “designer” today. Then of course came mass production – new manufacturing methods that standardized products and made them faster and more efficiently than making them by hand.

In the 20th century, we began to see a new revolution – the Customer Revolution. Ironically, despite Henry Ford’s defiance of customer choice (“You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black”), mass customization actually began in the automotive industry – if you didn’t find the exact color and options you wanted in a showroom model, you could order a vehicle with the options you wanted.

Consumers became aware of choice in reference to products like cars, and demanded that this level of choice trickle down into other products. Also, competition among manufacturers and retailers led to companies creating niche products to fill the gaps left by large, mass-produced products. Lastly, advances in manufacturing technology and order-taking interfaces like the Internet made customization economically viable.

Mass customization brought the best of both worlds together – the personalized products of customization, and the efficient manufacturing practices of mass production. It created a win-win scenario for both buyer and seller.

So how did mass customization find its way into the plastic injection molding business? After all, of all the various plastic manufacturing processes, injection molding has long been the tried-and-true method of mass production. Huge molding machines cranked out millions of parts, all exactly the same, with high repeatability.

The answer is that the large plastic injection molding behemoths are going the way of smaller, more agile companies that are very adept at low-volume manufacturing. Of course, this is a B2B scenario where the “consumer” is a business in need of fast, custom plastic parts, but the same concept applies here as it would to an individual ordering a personalized shirt with his initials on the cuff.

In fact, B2C and B2B have a lot more in common when it comes to mass customization. One commonality is the ordering mechanism – both rely on the Internet and technology to facilitate the order process. To order a personalized shirt, one simply goes onto a website, fills in all the options, and places the order. Similarly, there are custom injection molders like Toledo-based ICOMold with sophisticated online ordering systems that allow for many custom options to be specified.

The entire online quotation and ordering system is automated. The customer simply uploads 3D CAD models of the plastic parts they want to order, and chooses options like quantity, material, color and shipping method. Then, additional “secondary” processes can also be specified right in the same ordering process. The secondary processes include painting, pad printing, chrome plating and adding threaded inserts, among others.

Special options can be specified, and the customer is no longer bound by a single, large order of identical parts. It is now possible to make changes within production runs. For example, by utilizing exchangeable inserts in the molds, it’s possible to run a certain quantity of “blank” parts, then run another quantity with the customer’s logo on them.

A discussion of custom plastic parts wouldn’t be complete without mention of 3D printing, which allows complete customization of one-off parts. It has its advantages for the right circumstances, but the best method for producing a plastic part by 3D printing versus injection molding depends on quantity, quality and cost (see Will 3D Printing Be the Demise of Plastic Injection Molding?). So for the mass customization case, we’re assuming these variables point to injection molding as the preferred production method.

In conclusion, just as Henry Ford’s mass production model evolved into custom, online vehicle ordering, so too has plastic injection molding evolved from large volumes of identical parts, to smaller batches of customized parts, with special options specified in the ordering process.

Your Experienced Plastic Injection Molding Company

For well over a decade, ICOMold in Holland, Ohio (near Toledo) has been a leading plastic injection molding company thanks to our one-stop facility. We’ve mastered putting together a complete plastic injection molding strategy. We exceed expectations to bring you program management and high-quality end-products. And our straightforward plastic manufacturing – which services countless industries – saves you money, lowers time-to-market and increases product quality.

Our Process

With a large part capacity and full operation, ICOMold has the capabilities and management experience to ensure your plastic injection molding project is executed right, the first time. Our facility can handle production, tooling, assembly, packaging, shipping and more.

After you submit your instant quote online, our team of certified professionals will reach out to you so your project can begin. Then, you can openly communicate with us throughout the process via our online project management system. This unique tool gives you the ability to track your plastic injection molding project through the same system that you requested your initial instant quote.

The ICOMold Difference

We serve countless molding projects, from entrepreneurial inventions to vehicle parts manufacturing. But it can be difficult to move forward with confidence when you have minimal experience.

You can count on the ICOMold difference. We have a strong plastic injection molding foundation, giving us the ability to avoid common mistakes, make smart decisions and create your next project quickly.

ICOMold is Ohio’s leading provider of plastic injection molds, injection-molded plastic components and complete injection-molded plastic parts. We’re your single-source provider for quality custom injection molded plastic components and products.

ICOMold provides the assistance you need to bring your 3D CAD model to life, and the resources to produce any type of plastic design imaginable.

If you’re looking for plastic injection molding company that offers a full range of services, you’ve come to the right place. Rely on ICOMold for:
• Molds and molding
• Production
• Quality assurance

Our Plastic Injection Molding Certifications

ICOMold maintains the highest level of industry standards and practices for our plastic injection molding, including ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Further, we have been recognized as a minority-owned, operated and controlled business in the state of Ohio. We hold a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). We’re proud of this distinction, and welcome all business inquiries from fellow MBEs.

As the most established plastic injection molding manufacturer near Toledo, OH, we meet even the most demanding product specifications.

Contact Us

The sooner you invite the ICOMold team into your plastic injection molding project, the more we’ll have to offer.

Our sales engineers and project managers speak your language and are here to help you with your custom plastic injection molding project. Our sales and customer service office is located at our corporate headquarters in Holland, Ohio (near Toledo). You can contact us at (419) 867-3900, or email sales@icomold.com.

See how ICOMold can ensure your finished custom plastic injection mold is exactly what you need.

10 Key Terms for Plastic Injection Molding

Our customer base has a very diverse level of knowledge when it comes to plastic injection molding. We have large companies with seasoned pros who give us a lot of repeat business, all the way down to inventors who have an idea for a new product they want to market, and this is the first time they are working with a plastic injection molding company.

Regardless of your level of knowledge, there are certain plastic injection molding key terms you should know in order to communicate with our engineers through the process of turning your idea into the next “better mouse trap.” This is the short list, but for more plastic injection molding term definitions, please visit our Injection Molding Glossary.

Cavity – The concave space in the mold which is filled with hot plastic to create the desired part. Sometimes referred to as the “A side” of the mold, it usually forms the outer surface of the molded part.

Core – Also referred to as the “B side” of the mold, the convex half of the mold that usually forms the inner surface of the part.

Draft or Draft Angle – The degree of taper of a cold cavity sidewall or the angle of clearance designed to facilitate the ejection of the parts from the mold. Generally all plastic components should be designed with draft where possible.

Flash – Excess plastic that goes outside of the intended part molding along a seam or mold parting line and is still attached to the part.

Gate – An orifice through which the hot liquid plastic enters the mold cavity. Excess plastic from the gate area (vestige) can be trimmed manually or automatically once the part is ejected.

Line of Draw – The point at which the two molding halves separate to reveal the injection molded part. This allows the part to be ejected without damage from metal obstructions. On a finished part, the parting line shows where the two mold halves met when they were closed.

Runner – The channel that connects the sprue with the gate. The plastic travels from the injection molding machine through the sprue, through the runner, to the gate and into the cavities.

Shrink Rate – Ranging from 0.001-0.060 per inch, the rate at which the injected plastic will shrink once it is cooled.

Sprue – The canal connecting the runner to the nozzle of the injection molding machine.

Warp – Dimensional distortion in the injection molded part, often caused by internal stresses via uneven material flow, cooling and compression.

Plastic injection molding shrinkage is the contraction of a plastic molded part as it cools after injection. Most of the part shrinkage occurs in the mold while cooling, but a small amount of shrinkage occurs after ejection, as the part continues to cool.

After that, the part may continue to shrink very slightly for several hours or even days until the temperature and moisture content stabilize. Because of this, dimensional inspection should wait at least a day.

To compensate and plan for the shrinkage, the mold tooling engineer applies a calculation to expand the dimensions slightly. So how do you know how much? Visit this page of the Learning Center on our website for information on plastic injection molding shrinkage.