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    Introduction

    In the molding industry, after a product is designed by an industrial designer or an engineer, molds are made. The mold-maker (or toolmaker) uses metal, usually either steel or aluminum, and precision-machines to form the features of the desired part. Injection molding is widely used for manufacturing a variety of parts, from the smallest components to entire body panels of cars.
    The molding industry creates many things such as wire spools, packaging, bottle caps, automotive parts and components and toys. Some musical instruments (and parts of them), one-piece chairs and small tables and storage containers. Mechanical parts (including gears), and most other plastic products available today
    Successful manufacturing industry is the key for a sustainable development of a country. The plastic-based manufacturing industry is a significantly large industry that provides direct and indirect employment for thousands of skilled and non-skilled labors. Plastic-based products are manufactured in the form of directly usable end products (for individual customers or companies), as sub-components needed for main products produced in-house, accessories for export or local orders, etc. A range of companies, large to small scale are involved in the plastic-based manufacturing industry.

    Trend

    An increase in demand for lightweight materials
    Across the board, consumers and manufacturers want lighter products. In the automotive and aerospace sectors, lighter parts often translate to better gas mileage or longer battery life.
    When it comes to medical device manufacturing, joint replacements and stents made out of lightweight materials can dramatically improve patient outcomes. As the light weighting trend dovetails with the increased use of composite materials, engineers and product teams should incorporate weight considerations more readily into their design plans for 2021.
    Automation and the increased use of software, machine learning, and advanced analytics in manufacturing are growing trends likely to continue in 2021. Today’s programming is simpler than it was in years past, which leads to faster production cycles, reduced downtime, and more efficient maintenance.
    Automation also offers more control of the injection molding process. Manufacturers, engineers, and product teams should seize the opportunity to use software to advance mold-making and injection molding if they haven’t already done so.
    Designers and product teams should also leverage mold flow analysis in 2021 to maintain a competitive edge. Mold flow analysis uses software to simulate the injection molding cycle and predict how the mold will be filled, which is especially useful during the design phase. Engineers can use mold flow analysis to test for shrinkage, warpage, irregular fill patterns, and much more before moving on to prototyping. This intelligent software can also predict how the mold will react when injected with pressurized molten materials.
    The technology can be expensive, but the technical and economic advantages far outweigh the costs.
    2020 was an unpredictable and unprecedented year. Some manufacturers, engineers, and product teams might be tempted to return to the status quo, but they can achieve better results in 2021 by seizing upon some of the valuable opportunities spelled out in the aforementioned trends. Automation, light weighting, and a renewed commitment to environmentally-friendly manufacturing is sure to shake up mold-making very soon. A seasoned manufacturing partner can help product teams make their next move their best move.
    When product teams’ partner with Fast Radius, they get the best of both worlds — experience and innovation. We’ve spent years perfecting multi-process on-demand manufacturing and with that solid foundation, we’re free to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s next in mold-making, plastics, and injection molding. Our partners can expect low scrap rates, low labor costs, and expert design and engineering assistance throughout the product development, production, and fulfillment stages.

    Challenges

    One of the key problems faced by many local plastic-based manufacturing companies is the high production cost. As a result, they find it difficult to compete in the local market. The biggest competition in the market place is from the cheap products flooding in from other regional countries, especially from India and China where the production cost is relatively low. The local manufacturers are therefore looking for avenues to cut down production costs by various means.
    It has been observed that the companies investigated, basically, employ two broad strategies to cope with the market competition. One strategy is to look for major cost components and then try to cut down the cost through various methods. This eventually ends up in reducing the cost of dies and molds that affects greatly towards the quality of products. The second strategy is to cater for the high-end of the market through improved quality.
    The local die & mold manufacturers are trying non-conventional methods on a trial and error basis to develop low-cost molds for small batch production. There are several problematic issues associated with this process.
    How quickly do you need your parts? Processes that include lengthy design and tooling periods like injection molding often take months and are difficult to execute on a tight timeline. However, it’s worth noting that once your injection molding tooling is up and running, it can be the fastest production option.
    Tolerance and quality
    The level of precision required for your parts can help determine what type of manufacturing process is ideal for your application. CNC machining can typically achieve the smallest tolerances at +/- .005 mm, while additive technologies require tolerances greater than +/- .25mm. Understanding the appropriate tolerance for your part is key to selecting the right process and ensuring you receive parts that meet your specs.

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