What’s Rapid Injection Molding?

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Rapid injection molding is a cost-effective way to produce injection molds for low-volume production runs. It allows for fast production times and low unit costs, making it ideal for prototypes and bridging. The molds lack durability but can produce thousands of parts with increasing complexity. Modifications are also low cost, making it desirable for short-run plastic products and prototypes.

Rapid injection molding refers to the process of making injection molds for prototype, bridge, and short-run production parts in less time and at a lower cost than full production molds. Injection molds typically made for extended production runs are very expensive and time consuming. In situations where the production of injection molded parts requires rapid monitoring and upfront cost control, rapid and cost-effective injection molding techniques can produce molds better suited to low-volume production runs.

Injection molding is a manufacturing method that offers low unit costs during production, but can be expensive and time-consuming in its roll-out phase. Molds made for extended production can take several months to produce. This is not always feasible where small numbers of parts are required such as prototypes for function and fit testing or marketing testing. In these cases molds can be made that are identical to full production examples in design and size, although they lack the longevity of the final molds.

The production of parts subject to small final production volumes also benefits from the use of rapid injection molding techniques as the unit cost of the final product can be kept within practicable limits. Bridging is another manufacturing area that benefits from rapid injection molding; this allows manufacturers to begin production while the final molds are being made, thus “bridging” the gap between prototype and final product. Considering that rapid injection molds can be produced in about two to five weeks, these production needs can be met without incurring large peripheral expenses.

Rapid injection molding equipment is usually manufactured from aluminum using techniques such as rubber plaster molding, rapid prototyping, and CNC machining that allow for very fast production times. While these molds generally don’t have the durability or qualities of a final production set, they can produce thousands of parts, are suitable for most materials and colors, and can even be textured. Modern manufacturing techniques also mean that rapid injection molding can produce ever-increasing levels of complexity and dimensional differences which further expand the list of possible benefits the process offers.

An additional benefit of rapid injection molding in the pre-production development stage is the low cost of geometry or design modification. Should any unforeseen problems arise with the fit and finish or general design of the product, the retooling losses incurred can generally be minimized. This type of die fit involving a final production die set could have catastrophic financial implications. Rapid injection molding is therefore a highly desirable manufacturing method for short-run injection molded plastic products and prototypes.

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