Rapid Injection Molding
Our Rapid Molds are a great solution for injection molded parts that meet certain conditions – namely, that the customer needs a relatively low quantity of plastic parts very fast, inexpensively, and without a lot of design complexity. Rapid Molds can be a better option than Production Molds under the right conditions, because they can be produced quicker and more economically. However, it’s also important to understand the limitations of Rapid Molds to know if this option fits your requirements.
What is a Rapid Mold?
Rapid Molds are quickly-built, less expensive plastic injection molds. One of the main time savers in Rapid Molds is the fact that the molds are cut using CNC machining only – no Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) process is performed on them. This reduces build time and significantly reduces mold cost, but at the same time it limits mold features, which is why not all plastic parts are a candidate for Rapid Molds.
The process for launching a rapid mold project is slightly different than that for a production mold project. Namely, there is an up-front process review that takes place at the beginning of a rapid mold quote. This is done to determine the “machineability” of the mold. If the mold can be produced with CNC machining only, it continues to be considered for rapid molding. If, however, additional EDM work is required for the mold, the project would not be a candidate for rapid molding and would be quoted as a standard production molding project.
The remaining process for a rapid mold project is the same as for a production mold project – the Design For Manufacturability (DFM) analysis is performed upon receipt of the purchase order, and the project proceeds from there.
Why Should I Choose Rapid Molds?
If you need a relatively small quantity of injection molded plastic parts very quickly, like for rapid prototyping, then a Rapid Mold can be a good option. New technology built into our quick-cut system allows your mold to be produced faster than production molds. Combined with our instant online quotation system and interactive project management system, the whole process is condensed into a very short lead time for rapid prototyping or short production runs.
For plastic injection mold makers who offer expedited services, they typically charge a premium – sometimes up to twice the cost of their normal pricing – for rapid prototype molds. At ICOMold, our Rapid Molds are made faster than our production molds, AND they cost less! Once again though, it’s important to remember the differences between our Rapid Molds and production molds. Rapid 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 Molds are ideal for rapid prototyping and low quantities of injection molded plastic parts. Since they are not as robust as production molds, they may typically run up to 10,000 cycles. Of course, there may be instances where only a very small quantities of parts are needed, and other manufacturing processes like 3D printing or CNC machining may make more sense. But at a certain quantity, injection molding becomes the best method for overall lowest cost. There may also be situations where part design changes are anticipated or likely after a relatively small run, so it makes more sense to use a Rapid Mold. 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 molding higher volumes of parts.
Part Material and Performance
An advantage of creating prototypes with Rapid Molds, as opposed to 3D printing, is that you can get parts that are created out of the same material, with the same performance characteristics as the production parts will have. With 3D printing, despite continuing advancements, it is still not possible to create parts out of all the materials that can be used in injection molding. Therefore, the performance of a part cannot be validated unless it is injection molded with the resin that will be used in full production. The other consideration is that the way a 3D printer creates an object – by depositing small amount of materials in layers to build the part – can create weak points. Injection molded parts do not have such weak points; they are more robust.
What’s the Difference Between Rapid Molds and Production Molds?
There are a couple of key factors to take into account before deciding if a Rapid Mold or a Production Mold 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 Mold.
- Material: In order to maintain a quick turnaround time on Rapid Molds, there are 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: Again, due to the fast turnaround time and lower cost of Rapid Molds, color selection is limited to about 45 specific colors. 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
> ICOMold’s Lifetime Warranty on Production Molds
> 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.