You have an idea for a product; a great product that has the potential to generate millions in revenue. Custom injection molding is capable of bringing an incredibly wide array of designs to life. Successful part design is dependent on a clear understanding of how the raw materials will influence the product’s market appeal. Thermoplastic materials affect more than just the part appearance. They also determine the product’s function, performance, and safety.
Material selection is a complicated process. Materials that offer the most benefit for one application are not necessarily the best suited to meet considerations for others. An understanding of the target market, whether medical, electrical, or automotive, is imperative.
There are several critical factors when selecting the perfect material for your product:
Function is the first factor to consider. Material selection must take into account how the product will be used. If a living hinge is required, will the material endure stress created by frequent flexing/opening/closing. Will it tear, blush, or fracture under these conditions? If so, alternate, more durable materials are required. Another consideration is impact – will the part require reinforcement in order to withstand bumping, dropping, and or collision? If impact resistance is important, filled or impact-modified thermoplastic compounds are necessary.
Performance is another key attribute. For this requirement, the designer must understand critical resistance properties. If the material will be subjected to environmental conditions such as heat, UV, static, or humidity, the raw materials selected will have to include the appropriate additive packages to offer sufficient resistance properties. In a target environment, the part might also require exposure to heavy oils or strong solvents. Additionally, if the material requires a chemical bond or if it shares a mutual function with another material, then compatibility with those polymers must be evaluated as well.
Safety is an obvious but often overlooked consideration. To meet safety requirements, an injection molder must be completely aware of the compliance requirements that oversee specific applications. The materials that are selected for a part design must meet the testing and use specifications defined by governing authorities for each market. To evaluate materials the processor must know if the part will need to be compliant with requirements defined by organizations such as the FDA, UL, GMA, or USP.
With an understanding of these requirements, the next consideration is appearance. What does your product look like? Will it be precisely color-matched to a unique standard? Is it transparent, translucent or opaque?. Should it be textured? Matte or glossy finish? Are you looking at something that requires a special effect for your particular market like a pearlescent, metallic or fluorescent appearance? Perhaps the plastic component is part of a large whole and needs to match or complement the appearance of metals, painted surfaces or textiles. All of these questions require a thorough understanding of the raw material characteristics.
Finally, once you’ve determined the answers to all of these questions, there are a number of considerations for the manufacturer. When setting up the production line to begin manufacturing, the nuances of material chemistry determine the ease of processing for your product. When engineering your injection mold design, your manufacturing partner has to consider factors like flow, moisture, shrinkage, and chemical reaction during processing. The correct line-setup will ensure your product is made efficiently and intelligently, eliminating wasted material and time.
While discussing how Laszeray Technology assists its customers, Jim George, Business Development Manager, stated “One of our longest-standing and largest customers recently thanked us for the proactive work we performed on the design phase of their product launch. Not only did Laszeray recommend the highest performing materials for the product’s end-use, but our recommendations also offered the lowest cost solution for market launch.”
What stands between your success and failure is your choice in the partner you select to manufacture your product. The right partner has the knowledge and expertise to handle all of the details you need to deliver.
When it comes to manufacturing high value products, you need to make sure you’re working with someone who understands every aspect of the process, especially material chemistry.
For quotes and further information on Laszeray Technology, contact us here.