The automotive and aftermarket industry has evolved over the years, adopting new technologies to make cars faster, more efficient, more durable, and in some cases, smarter. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the auto industry is the need for parts. All vehicles are a sum of their parts and ICOMold knows that a high quality automobile starts with high-quality injection molded automotive parts. These parts can be as small as the pin that holds the body panels together, to as large as the body panels themselves. We will work with automotive manufacturers and aftermarket parts makers to create the high-quality injection molded automotive parts for most makes and models.
Injection Molding for the Automotive and Aftermarket Industry
ICOMold is highly-experienced when it comes to automotive plastic injection molding. If the car part is plastic, or can be made of plastic, we are the one-stop source of injection molding automotive parts.
Injection molding for the automotive industry can sometimes require specialized parts. We offers a variety of injection molding processes to ensure the final product meets the manufacturer’s exacting specifications. These parts may need to be made of two different materials, like a shifter with a hard plastic body and a softer outer grip. Some parts may require the inclusion of metal nuts, screws, bushings or filters. ICOMold has a process for most injection molded automotive part that meet the needs of the automotive and aftermarket industry.
Why Use Plastic?
Plastic is cost-effective but more importantly, it weighs much less than conventional materials like metal. The automotive industry will be faced with increasing regulations on fuel efficiency while simultaneously trying to move away from the industry standard combustion engine into electric vehicles. Whether the vehicle is gas or battery powered, reducing weight is a necessity. Injection molding automotive parts results in parts that weigh a fraction of their conventional counterparts and, in most instances, cost less to manufacture. Plastic is also much easier to work with. Thousands or even hundreds of thousands of the same injection molding automotive part can be made quickly and easily.
Plastic is also incredibly durable and will not rust or corrode like metal. Parts of a car are subjected to constant abuse. The parts on the outside will have to deal with the whims of Mother Nature and every manner of road hazard. The parts on the inside will need to withstand extreme heat and stand up to being handled, pushed, pulled, or turned. Plastic injection molded automotive parts are uniquely suited to meet all of these challenges.
Prototyping and Testing
Creating a new injection molding automotive part can be rewarding. ICOMold offers prototyping services when the time comes to update or change a part. The prototype allows the automotive manufacturer to fine tune the part and ensure it meets the desired specifications.
After the prototype has been approved, the next step is production. The mold has a cavity on the inside. The injection machine melts the desired plastic material and then pushes it into the mold. Once the plastic cools, the mold is opened and the finished piece is ejected. The applications for plastic injection molding automotive parts are nearly limitless.
Making It All Come Together
Injection molding for automotive purposes sometimes requires a mix of materials. A single part in any given vehicle may be required to contact several different surfaces. These parts may also require non-plastic inserts for connective purpose, fuel filtering, or electrical conductivity.
Many injection molding automotive parts will be made of a mix of materials. In this case, simple plastic injection molding will not do. ICOMold offers a variety of ways to augment the plastic injection molding process to accommodate automotive manufacturers. These processes include Insert Molding and Overmolding.
Insert molding is a plastic injection molding process for automotive parts that allows metal or ceramic inserts, like nuts, bushings, screws, or metal filters, to be molded directly into the piece. The metal or ceramic parts are placed in the mold and melted plastic is then injected into the mold to create a seamless piece made of two different materials. Insert molding is ideal for automotive or aftermarket applications. Insert molding is also an innovative way to reduce weight and use of costly material like metal. Instead of making the entire piece out of metal, only the connecting pieces need to be metal while the rest of the item will be made out of plastic.
Overmolding is another plastic injection molding automotive technique used to combine two different types of materials in one item. The overmolding process puts one type of material over a different type of material to create the final part. Overmolding allows automotive manufacturers to create complex items that may contact different surfaces at the same time. Overmolding typically involves soft thermoplastic materials like urethanes and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) being overmolded onto hard plastic such as acrylonitrile butadiene styreneor (ABS) polycarbonate (PC). Overmolding is ideal of many of the pieces found inside the cabin of the vehicle. Most of these injection molding automotive pieces will come into contact with people. Providing a pleasing sensation to the touch can make the difference between a car feeling well made and luxurious or down right cheap.
Branding is an all-important marketing tool, from insignia on the grill of the car, all the way down to the manufacture’s name on a tiny replacement part. ICOMold can provide the finishing touches to make the brand name stand out.
The average commute across the country is around 20 minutes. This means people driving to and from work will be spending 30 to 60 minutes in their vehicles every day. Having highly visible, legible branding will go a long way to establish a connection with the automotive owner.
Not all injection molded automotive parts will need branding. For those pieces that do need branding, however, we provides a variety of services to mark each and every part.
ICOMold offers several ways to brand or print text or pictures onto a plastic item made by injection molding for the automotive industry. Conventional screen-printing is used to print the desired text or image on any plastic item with a flat surface. We employ pad printing when the object may not be easily printed by conventional means. Pad printing allows the transfer of a 2D image onto a 3D object. A silicon pad is created that acts as a flexible stamp. This stamp can then be pressed onto the object, transferring the desired image. This type of printing can be used in place of screen printing but is ideal for items that have compound angles, textures, rounded edges, or may be spherical in nature.
Secondary Injection Molding Automotive Processes
ICOMold offers a wide range of secondary processes to ensure every customer receives the finished part to meet their need. After injection molding, the plastic part can be prepared for post-milling processes.
The following is a list of the standard secondary processes available after CNC milling and plastic injection molding. ICOMold will be happy to discuss any custom process or secondary processes not listed below.
- Painting. Plastic or metal parts made with injection molding can be painted to enhance appearance.
- Inserts. Automotive plastic injection molded parts may need non-plastic inserts.
- Silk Screening. A woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil is used to transfer a desired image to the finished piece.
- Laser Etching. Heat from a laser beam causes the surface of the material to melt, leaving an indentation in the shape of the desired design.
- Pad Printing. This printing method uses a soft, ink-dipped pad to transfer a 2D image to a 3D object.
- Custom Processes. ICOMold is happy to work with customers on post-molding processes. These processes can include packaging or assembly.
Custom Secondary Process
ICOMold will work with customers that specify custom secondary processes. We will go the extra step to assemble parts as needed or prepackage parts for shipping or retail. Speak with a representative to get more information on custom secondary processes. Please inquire about custom secondary processes before placing an order to ensure we can meet your needs.
What is the process for injection molding production?
ICOMold’s instant online plastic injection molding quote and mold frame sharing technology enables us to simplify and shorten both the quoting and tooling manufacturing process for custom plastic injection molding.
- Load your 3D CAD file to get an instant mold and part quote
- Upon order confirmation, ICOMold starts the mold and part order process
- Tooling design review by ICOMold engineers
- Upon design approval, ICOMold begins building your injection mold
- Customer examines samples for approval
- Part production begins
Go to our plastic injection molding and CNC machining case studies page to see how we helped customers on their projects.