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By Jeremy Losek, May 19th, 2022

Production Injection Molding


What are production injection molds?

Production injection molds are built to withstand higher volumes of plastic injection molding cycles. They are made with P20 steel or NK80 stainless steel, and typically last over 100,000 cycles. As long as we continue to make your parts in our facility, we will maintain and repair the tool as needed at our cost.

Can I make design changes on production molds?

Plastic Injection molded partYes, making design changes on production molds is possible with ICOMold. An ICOMold engineer will coordinate with you on CAD file changes and rework the mold accordingly. You will receive revised samples for your approval prior to production.

ICOMold provides a dedicated project manager and engineer for your injection molding production. Please check out ICOMold’s Online Project Management System.

Advantages of Production Injection Molds vs. High-Volume 3D Printing

Lower Cost on Production Runs

While 3D printing doesn’t have the upfront cost of a mold, as injection molding does, it also doesn’t reduce the unit cost over time, and injection molding does. Plastic injection molding can quickly become the more cost-efficient option with a production run of as little as a couple hundred units.

Cost Per Part on Injection molding production run

This chart shows the cost per unit of a part that was manufactured with injection molding and the same part that was 3D printed. The injection molding production has an upfront cost of the mold at $5,000 and a cost per unit of $0.15.  The 3D printer runs a flat $20 cost per unit. At 252 units it becomes cheaper to create the parts with plastic injection molding.

Faster Production Time

Most of the time for plastic injection molding is spent on creating the production mold itself. During the actual production run, a set of parts can be created within several seconds. For a 3D printer to make one part, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes (a very small simple design like a washer or nut) to over several hours (more complex or larger pieces). This means producing large quantities of parts won’t have a noticeable effect on the total time need for plastic injection molding. On the other hand, adding more parts to an order can add days, weeks, or even months for a 3D printer to fulfill the order.

Higher quality products

The most common 3D printers are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machines. This means the printer creates a part by repeatedly heating up a drop of plastic and adding it to the part one drop at a time. Each layer is allowed to completely cool before the next layer is added. This layering can introduce new structural weak points as the layers can sometimes be prone to separation.  For Plastic injection molding, the production mold is completely filled with molten plastic and then allowed to cool. Since the part comes out as one piece, plastic injection molding doesn’t introduce any new structural weakness.

Advantages of Production Injection Molds vs Plastic CNC Machining

Less Wasted Material

On average, even with the extra connection pieces (runner), injection molding produces less wasted materials than CNC machining. This is because CNC machining starts with a solid block of material and then the part is cut out from the block. On very small production runs this cost maybe negligible. On larger production runs, and with more expensive material, this waste can add up to significant cost.

Less Production Time

CNC machining doesn’t require any upfront tooling. Once a CAD file has been finalized, it can be sent to production. CNC machining shines when there is a small production run. Once you get to a certain amount of parts in a run (this is determined by part size and complexity), it becomes quicker to produce parts with injection molding.

The biggest time sink for plastic injection molding is the creation of the production mold. Once the production mold has been created and properly set up, it takes only a few seconds to produce a part. The larger quantity of parts in a production run, the larger the time savings over CNC machining.

Lower Cost On Higher Production Runs

For CNC machines, each part has to be manually placed in and removed from the machine, so the cost per part is fairly static over production runs.  For plastic injection molding, the production mold is by far the most expensive item. After the mold is created, the parts are fairly inexpensive and fast to produce. Since plastic injection molding is fast and doesn’t require human interaction once the production mold has been setup, the cost per piece decreases as quantity increases. Depending on the complexity of the part, it can be cheaper to use plastic injection molding for as few as a couple hundred parts.

How long does a plastic injection mold last?

These custom plastic injection molds will typically last well over 100,000 cycles. As long as we continue to make the parts for you, we will maintain and refurbish the tool as needed at our own cost.

Making design changes on production molds is possible with ICOMold. An ICOMold engineer will coordinate with you on CAD file changes and rework the mold accordingly. You will receive revised samples for your approval prior to production.

ICOMold provides a dedicated project manager and engineer for your injection molding production. Please check out ICOMold’s Online Project Management System.

Injection Molding Production Highlights

>  Instant mold and part quote
>  Low cost, quick build and quality production
>  Online project management
>  Trouble-free part modifications

>  No size limitations
>  Any commercially available material and surface finish

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.

  1. Load your 3D CAD file to get an instant mold and part quote
  2. Upon order confirmation, ICOMold starts the mold and part order process
  3. Tooling design review by ICOMold engineers
  4. Upon design approval, ICOMold begins building your injection mold
  5. Customer examines samples for approval
  6. Part production begins

Go to our plastic injection molding and CNC machining case studies page to see how we helped customers on their projects.

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