Many business ideas don’t see the light of day for many reasons. But if you are an innovative thinker with a compelling product idea, it’s time to invest effort into materializing it!
Prototyping or manufacturing a customized plastic part is no longer a complex and costly ordeal, thanks to the advanced technology and many solutions we have today. With top companies like Kemal, you can easily get your product designed, developed, and manufactured.
This article guides you through the basic steps of manufacturing custom plastic parts, from design to prototyping to high-volume manufacturing.
Get ahead in the competition and offer good quality products for your customers!
The Process of Turning Your Idea Into an Actual Product
If you have a great product idea surfacing in your mind and believe it has the potential to sell out in the current market, waste your time no more. Here’s a brief overview of the process!
1. Designing the Product
The first step is to get it designed by an expert by explaining the product’s form, features, specifications, and other details. It’s easier if you provide a sketch highlighting all the important aspects. It can be in digital or written form.
The engineer will develop a 3D model based on your sketch. Depending on their expertise, they would provide suggestions to improve it too. It can help you identify the strengths and pitfalls of the product and refine the design.
2. Decide the Molding Process
Next is to figure out how you will produce it and the best material for the process. When it comes to custom part manufacturing, there are many manufacturing solutions for you, like injection molding, vacuum forming, blow molding, and thermoforming.
Consider the tolerance rate, quality, wall thicknesses, and cost before you select the molding process. As for materials, you have a wide range of polymers to choose from, such as ABS, nylon, polyethylene, polycarbonate, and polystyrene.
Consider the functionalities and features of the product before selecting the material.
Now that you have a well-developed design for the product idea and have decided on the molding process, now it’s time to create a working prototype to test the product and assess its functionalities. It’s the first sample of your product idea!
Your manufacturer can recommend the best prototyping solution based on your requirements and budget. We recommend you spend time developing prototypes until you have perfected your custom product.
4. Manufacturing the Item
Your manufacturer will take over and carry out the production in the required quantities. The speed of production and volume will depend on the manufacturing capabilities of the company, so it’s vital that you select a reliable manufacturer who can cater to your requirements.
In addition, the quality control system in place is also important to consider. Communicate with your manufacturer and ensure the product is made according to the specifications and tolerance rate provided by you.
Now, let’s look at the phases of producing your custom metal part in detail and how each factor contributes to a successful execution.
Designing Your Custom Plastic Part
Why is it important to have a clear and comprehensive design before manufacturing the product? For starters, it is the design that puts things in perspective. When you have a detailed 3D model of your concept that only lived inside your head so far, you understand its feasibility better.
The design also helps you evaluate the interior and exterior, eliminate unnecessary features, and improve parts or corners that may be prone to stress and breakage.
Also, when designing, it’s essential to consider the material, molding process, the need for a cosmetic look, and the environment in which the product will function.
Factors like the radius, wall thickness, gate positions, draft, mold shrinkage, and special features of the product should also be considered. If all of these sound too technical for you, don’t worry. A skilled engineer can help you with optimizing the 3D design.
Choosing the Right Manufacturing Process
The right manufacturing solution for your product depends on its purpose, the raw material used, and the complexity of the design. Here’s a brief overview of each process.
Injection molding is when thermoplastic is melted in a temperature-controlled barrel and poured into a predesigned mold. Once it cools and solidifies, the part is ejected. It is ideal for creating products with complex features.
Injection molding is cost-effective, time-saving, and perfect for high-volume manufacturing requirements.
Plastic extrusion is a process where thermoplastic is melted in an extruder and goes through a metal die. The die can differ based on the shape of the product. It is then cut and trimmed as necessary.
It is a method for producing plastics with a continuous profile like pipes. It’s not the best solution for products with complex geometries.
Thermoforming is a process where a plastic sheet is heated just enough to make it pliable and wrapped around the mold. Then, vacuum pressure is used to accurately form the shape and eliminate any gaps or air bubbles between the mold and the plastic layer.
Vacuum casting is a process that uses silicone molds to create high-quality products with a smooth surface texture. As the molten resin is poured into the mold, vacuum pressure draws the air out to eliminate bubbles.
It is a good solution for rapid prototyping of plastic or rubber products.
Blow molding is for creating hollow structures. A plastic tube known as a parison is heated and inserted between two molds. The compressed air inserted through the tube expands the plastic like a balloon to fit into the hollow structure.
CNC machining is preferred for parts that demand tight tolerance rates and high levels of precision. It is a process where a solid block of plastic is carved out to form the product’s shape using specialist tools. However, unlike injection molding, there’s a wastage of materials.
Benefits of Injection Molding
Injection molding remains one of the most reliable methods for custom parts manufacturing due to the many benefits highlighted below.
- Ability to create highly detailed parts;
- No or less wastage of raw materials;
- Very cost-effective;
- Fast and efficient production time;
- Wide range of material choices; and
Creating a 3D Model
3D modeling is an important step for many reasons. Designing your product using 3D CAD software helps you get a multi-dimensional view of the product and examine every aspect carefully.
A 3D design also exposes the flaws in the product better than a sketch or 2D model. It helps you save the cost of multiple prototypes and accelerates the production process.
How to Create a 3D Model?
For 3D modeling, you need reliable 3D CAD software that helps you build the design from scratch.
As the first step, you need to gather all the specifications and functionalities of the product, including the type of material used.
Then, you model the product using the software program.
The next step is to add the necessary lighting effects to improve the aesthetics and clarity of the product.
The final stage is 3D rendering, where the designer transforms the model into a high-quality and realistic image.
Creating a Prototype
We believe prototyping is a critical stage in manufacturing, especially when materializing complex product ideas.
A sample model of your product idea in hand helps you examine and test its functionalities better and identify the constraints of the design. You can improve and perfect the final product based on the limitations you find in the prototype.
What are the Options Available for Prototyping?
3D printing is one of the best and most reliable solutions for prototyping because it’s affordable and fast. You can opt for industrial printing solutions for large-scale parts or start with a smaller-sized prototype for design competency assessment.
CNC machining is a good option if you need near-perfect, exact working prototypes. Other solutions include aluminum extrusion, foam, clay models, and vacuum forming.
Injection Molding Your Custom Plastic Part
As we mentioned earlier, injection molding is a process where thermoplastic pellets are melted in a heat-regulated barrel and injected into a mold to cool and solidify. You can create products with complex features using thermosets or thermoplastic varieties.
Injection molding is the best method for high-volume production because it only requires one custom mold. However, the output quality depends on the mold design, and it’s vital to get it right!
The Steps Involved in the Injection Molding Process
A clamp holds both sides of the mold together and attaches to the machine. It is responsible for solidifying the molten plastic and ejecting the final product.
Plastic pellets go through the hopper to the barrel. The heat and pressure melt the plastic, and the liquid is injected into the mold.
The molten plastic can cool and solidify in the mold to form the desired shape.
The completed plastic part is removed from the mold.
Quality Control and Inspection
You don’t want your great product idea to turn into a failure because of poor-quality execution, right? Quality control is paramount for any product to ensure customers can trust your product to be reliable and well-performing.
It improves the efficiency of the manufacturing system, lowers cost, and prevents subpar products from being released to the market. Lack of quality in your products can affect the brand image negatively too.
A consistent quality control system will ensure that every production stage takes place flawlessly and that everything from raw materials to packaging meets the required standards. You have to ensure your manufacturer thoroughly inspects the production process.
Usually, it is done by testing samples of raw materials, semi-finished, and finished products using various industry-recognized measures. It minimizes errors that can happen in the process. It also helps the manufacturer identify and eliminate any defective products early on.
Finishing Your Customized Plastic Part
After production, there are many ways in which you can enhance the aesthetics and functionalities of your product. These post-processing solutions can help the product function better in rough environmental conditions and make it more attractive to customers.
Below are some finishes available for injection molded parts.
Painting is a popular finish chosen for plastic parts. It can offer good weather protection while improving the appeal of the product. It also gives a smooth finish and is a cost-effective solution.
Spray painting, silk screening, and powder coating methods are available for painting plastic surfaces.
If you want the product to have a rough surface, possibly to increase friction and durability, you may have to choose a textured finish for the part. Sanding, bead blasting, and etching are some methods available for achieving textured finishes.
The laser marking process helps you engrave patterns and texts on the exterior of the plastic part. It is ideal for fragile plastic parts as the machine doesn’t touch the surface. Instead, the laser beam will create a permanent mark on it.
Buffing gives the manufactured part a very lustrous and reflective surface by removing imperfections and smoothing the surface. It is done by running a rotary wheel consisting of fine diamond powder on the exterior surface of the part.
This process uses fine-grit sandpaper to polish the surface, resulting in a semi-gloss appeal. You can use it to improve the internal and external surfaces of the part. It also reduces the appearance of scratches and marks to a great extent.
We hope our guide helped you understand how to transform your product idea into a reality. Selecting the correct molding process and material is essential to get an excellent output.
If you have less knowledge of the production field, don’t worry. Manufacturers such as Kemal offer custom plastic part production solutions. We can guide you through the whole process.
How Kemal Can Transform Your Product Idea Into a Reality
If you find the process complex and overwhelming, you can contract it out to a turnkey manufacturer or outsource the production from a reliable company like Kemal.
We can help you bring your product idea to life and make it succeed in the market. As one of the top manufacturing companies in China, we offer a wide range of manufacturing solutions like injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing.
Our team of experts is highly experienced and skilled in their field and offers valuable advice to improve your product. We source high-quality raw materials and provide a wide range of thermosets and thermoplastics to choose from!