Tooling is an especially important aspect of injection molding. Tools must be designed and manufactured to exacting specifications and finished to an extremely high standard. They must be able to conduct the tasks they have been created for and be robust enough to withstand heavy and sustained use. The initial investment could be a significant one, and the need to make modifications or even produce replacements further down the line could add significantly to the financial outlay.
Choosing the right injection mold toolmaker is, therefore, extremely important for quality control, safety, and overall value. Here are several key areas to focus on when choosing your supplier and overseeing their work on your injection molding toolmaking project.
A tool is only as good as the design it is based on. Get this wrong and it will not fit correctly, work reliably, or produce accurate, durable work. Make sure that your injection molding expert knows their way around the design and that the process is conducted in conjunction with the mold production and finishing procedures. This will help ensure everything is coordinated with each other and that dimensions and measurements are precise. This is especially important when working on a suite of tools that need to work correctly as a wider group. Find out how the design process works in practice, who is involved, and what the various steps are.
All projects of this nature can be prone to changes along the way. Design specifications, end-user requirements, quantities, materials used, and processes can all be altered, and the toolmaker must be ready to keep pace with such changes and offer a flexible, adaptable approach to their work. Check what machinery the manufacturer has available to facilitate flexible design and production processes. CNC milling machines, CNC lathes, CNC wire eroding machines, and a CNC/EDM spark eroding machine other changes could include shifts in delivery schedules or shipping instructions, which could have a knock-on effect on the project's timetable. Check how manufacturers typically deal with expected and unexpected alterations to a project and how flexible they are willing and able to be.
An obvious area to ensure that you are satisfied with is the experience and proven expertise levels of an injection molding manufacturer. This will normally have a significant effect on the quality of their finished products. You can get a better idea of this by seeking customer testimonials, reading online reviews, asking around within the industry for your insights, etc.—and then asking for your feedback. Look at the website to see if the company is accredited, as per ISO 9001 and other industry quality standards. Has the company been recognized with any industry awards for toolmaking? What does the trade media say about them if you do an online search for their name?
When it comes to toolmaking, lead times are extremely important. If you don't receive your finished tools at the expected and promised time, it can have serious repercussions on your ability to service your own customers. Delays can affect your reputation and compromise your ambitious standards of customer service. Your chosen injection molding toolmaker should have safeguards in place to help ensure that lead times can be delivered as promised. Any delays that do happen at any stage along the supply chain must be managed with minimal disruption to the overall process. This includes overseeing delivery, setup, and installation of the finished tools on your premises.
Finally, ask yourself whether you need new tools, or whether your existing ones have been given a new lease of life with some expert refurbishment. Sometimes, injection molding techniques can restore worn tools, for example by replacing handles, adding new components, or fixing broken parts of the fabric. Always ask the company for advice on whether a new tool is required or whether you can do anything with an older model. Ensure that health and safety considerations are prioritized. If a tool has gone beyond repair, it will be safer and more effective to have a new one created instead. Beware of manufacturers trying to persuade you into choosing the most expensive option without a full and reasonable justification.
Since 2006, V1 Mold Technology has specialized in custom, high-volume plastic injection molding. Each member of our team is committed to the success of your project and works hard to meet or exceed the project's requirements.
If you'd like more information on our plastic injection molding services, request a quote from us today.