What is Rapid Injection Molding?
Rapid molding or quick molds are a great manufacturing solution for injection-molded parts that meet certain conditions.
- Parts Needed Fast. When turnaround time is essential, rapid injection molding can deliver parts quickly.
- Low Production Numbers. The overall production run will be small. Quick molds are not as durable and will not stand up to extended use. Small production runs will also help ensure delivery on an enhanced timetable.
- Design Simplicity. Rapid molding will benefit from a simplistic design. This will speed up the mold making process and help keep the project on schedule.
Quick molds can be a better option than Production Molds under the right conditions. A rapid mold can be produced faster and more economically. However, it’s also important to understand the limitations of rapid injection molding to know if this option fits your requirements.
What is a Rapid Mold?
Rapid injection molds are less expensive molds used for plastic injection that can be built much faster than standard production molds. Rapid mold tooling is cut using only CNC machining. Other machining methods, like electrical discharge machining (EDM), will not be utilized. This can reduce build time and significantly lower mold cost, however, the limited machining can restrict mold features. Not all plastic parts are a good candidate for rapid molding.
The process for launching a rapid mold project is slightly different than that for a production mold project. All quick molds will be subject to an up-front process review that takes place at quoting. This is done to determine the machinability of the mold. If the mold can be produced with CNC machining only, it continues to be considered for rapid molding. The project will not be considered for rapid molding if additional machining work is required for the mold. The project would then be quoted for standard production or bridge mold tooling.
The rest of the manufacturing process will be the same for rapid molding and production molding projects. All projects will be submitted to a Design For Manufacturability (DFM) analysis before proceeding to production.
Why Should I Choose Rapid Molds?
Quick molds are a good option for projects that require a relatively small quantity of injection molded plastic parts very quickly. This can be especially useful for prototyping. New technology built into our quick-cut system allows your mold to be produced faster than production molds. The whole process is condensed into a very short time frame for rapid prototyping or short production runs when combined with our instant online quotation system and interactive project management system.
Plastic injection mold makers who offer expedited services typically charge a premium for rapid molding – sometimes up to twice the cost of their normal pricing. At ICOMold, our quick molds are made faster than our production molds and will cost less. It is important to remember that quick molds are only a good option under certain conditions, and do not match the quality, longevity, and complexity of production molds.
Low Volume / Prototypes
Rapid injection molding is ideal for prototyping and low quantities of injection molded plastic parts. Quick molds will typically last up to 10,000 cycles. If only a few pieces are needed, consider some of the other manufacturing processes offered at ICOMold by Fathom. Manufacturing processes like 3D printing or CNC machining may make more sense for some projects. Quantity will be the biggest factor when choosing a manufacturing method. At a certain quantity, injection molding becomes the best method for reducing the overall price-per-piece for each part. There may also be situations where part design changes are anticipated or likely after a relatively small run. Using a rapid mold in this instance would also make sense as it can be built quickly and for less cost than standard production molds. At the point where the prototyping phase is complete and the design is finalized, it becomes more economical to move to a production mold for producing higher part volumes.
Part Material and Performance
Material choice is the main advantage of rapid injection molding. Any material used in injection molding can be used with quick molds minus a few advanced engineering resins like PEEK or PPSU. Other manufacturing processes used for prototyping, such as 3D printing, have limited material selection. Prototype parts made of the same material as the eventual production parts will exhibit the same performance characteristics and are ideal for real-world testing. Despite the continuing advancements with 3D printing, it is still not possible to create parts out of all the materials that can be used in injection molding. Performance of a part cannot be validated unless it is injection molded with the same resin that will be used in full production. Structural stability of the part must also be considered. 3D printers create an object by depositing small amount of materials in layers to build the part. This layer-by-layer construction can create weak points. Injection molded parts will be more robust.
What are the Differences Between Quick Molds and Production Molds?
The main differences between a rapid mold and a production mold are cost and durability. But there are a few other factors to take into consideration before deciding if a rapid molding or production molding is best for your plastic injection-molding project:
- Part Complexity. Parts that have complex geometrical designs or very tight tolerances are best produced with production injection molding. Parts with a simple design may be candidates for a rapid injection molding.
- Material. In order to maintain a quick turnaround time for a rapid mold, there will be fewer material options available than for production molding. There are around 50 materials that are commonly used and readily available for rapid molding. For guidance in selecting a material that fits your requirements, please refer to our Plastic Performance Penguin.
- Color. Color selection is limited to about 45 specific colors. Again, due to the fast turnaround time and the lower cost of quick molds. Click here to view the list of available colors. If other colors are needed, it may be necessary to move to a production mold.
There are a few additional differences between Rapid Molds and production injection molding listed in the chart below.
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.
- 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.