Mold costs are significant cost drivers in the injection molding industry


Large industrial injection molding machines can range in price from $50,000 to $200,000 or more

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Large industrial injection molding machines can range in price from $50,000 to $200,000 or more. These machines also have more stringent facility requirements and necessitate the use of skilled labor for their operation, maintenance, and monitoring. As a result, unless injection molding is a core competency of the company, most businesses outsource mass production to service providers and contract manufacturers, with the equipment costs being included in the service costs.

 

For injection molding, special-purpose machines are used. These machines can range from smaller desktop Plastic Injection Mold machines that businesses can use in-house to large industrial injection molding machines that are primarily operated by service providers, contract manufacturers, and large manufacturers. Small desktop injection molding machines and 3D printed molds are the most cost-effective way to produce small volumes of parts using injection molding. If you are new to injection molding and want to try it out with a small investment, a benchtop manual injection molding machine such as the Holipress or the Galomb Model-B100 may be a good choice. Automated small-scale injection molding equipment, such as the desktop machine Micromolder or the hydraulic machine Babyplast 10/12, are excellent alternatives for medium-series production of small parts.

Mold costs, also known as tooling costs, are typically the most significant cost drivers in the injection molding industry, as we mentioned in the introduction. Molds for Plastic Injection Mold Services are typically created using one of three methods:
CNC machining: CNC machines are the most commonly used tools for producing aluminum and stainless steel molds with high levels of precision. CNC machining is the removal of material by means of a spinning tool and a fixed part. Machining can produce molds with highly complex cavity designs, but doing so may necessitate multiple tool changes, which can slow down the process, increasing the cost of the mold. CNC machines are industrial tools that require a skilled workforce as well as a dedicated space, which is why many companies outsource mold production to third-party service providers.

3D printing: 3D printing is a powerful solution for fabricating injection molds quickly and at a low cost. It necessitates the use of very limited equipment, allowing CNC time and skilled operators to be used for other high-value tasks in the meantime. Manufacturers can benefit from the speed and flexibility of in-house 3D printing to create molds that can be used on both desktop and industrial molding machines. Furthermore, product development benefits from the ability to iterate on the design and test the end-use material before investing in hard tooling for mass production. Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing technology is an excellent choice for injection molding applications. It is distinguished by a smooth surface finish and high precision that will transfer from the mold to the final part and that will also facilitate demolding. Stereolithography produces 3D prints that are completely dense and isotropic because they are chemically bonded together. Desktop SLA printers, such as those offered by Formlabs, start at less than $5,000 and can be seamlessly integrated into any injection molding workflow due to their ease of implementation, operation, and maintenance.

Depending on the requirements of the final parts, a wide range of plastics can be used for injection molding, including ABS, PS, PE, PC, PP, and TPU. The cost of purchasing materials for molds varies depending on the material selected. Thermoplastic pellets are approximately $1 to $5 per kilogram of weight. Material cost is determined by the design of a model, the material selected, and the amount of material used to complete the injection molding process.

The equipment associated with injection molding is generally self-regulating and relies on automation to complete the task at hand. Molds are produced using CNC machines, EDM machines, and 3D printers, which all rely on the specifications of the CAD design. The injection molding machine also relies on automation to inject materials into the mold, and industrial IM machines are frequently programmed to cool and eject the finished item on their own.

Setup/configuration costs: The setup labor costs are based on the time it takes to configure the equipment that will be used to manufacture the mold and the finished product. Repair and maintenance tasks entail the replacement of defective parts as well as the use of tools to carry out the maintenance process. Monitoring costs: Despite the reliance on automation, equipment operators are expected to monitor the progress of the injection molding process. The wages of the operators accrued during the process are added to the total cost of injection molding. When manufacturing in-house, these costs are factored into the labor costs. 

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