Injection molding design: The 10 keys to success, part two: Page 2 of 2

9. Scheduling of critical start-up phases

A significant part of the design process includes scheduling of critical milestones throughout each phase of development. Every project requires design activities to be synchronized with business plans associated with the product. These events include trade shows, clinical trials and regulatory compliance, as well as final product release. Close communication with a molder is an essential activity to ensure the project stakeholder will be able to attain his or her objectives. Critical project milestones directly associated with a molder include ordering steel, tool design, machining molds, texturing tools, sample shots, designing and building fixtures, establishing quality standards and optimizing production parameters. These critical tasks must be planned and coordinated with overall project objectives to avoid costly tooling revisions or production delays. Fully integrating these activities with your molder is an essential part of overall product development and design for manufacturing. 


10. Secondary operations and fixtures

Secondary operations and fixtures are often omitted from the budget or project plans until the last moments of production startup. Secondary operations such as pad printing, labeling, painting, machining and adding inserts all will have some effect on design. Certain secondary operations such as ultrasonic insertion, ultrasonic bonding and machining often add to capital expenditures. Technical considerations pertaining to ultrasonic joints and tolerances should be discussed with molders to minimize problems during production. Secondary machining operations may require fixtures as well as affect part design. Good molding partners can point out these subtle details in advance, so when CAD files and documentation are released for production, everyone agrees on the final product and capital investment.

I hope this article has enlightened you on the benefits of partnering with your vendors early in the design process and closely collaborating with them until all final details have been defined in product documentation. Designing for injection molded plastic parts is by far the most challenging of any of the plastic manufacturing processes.

The benefits of a close partnership with your molder and tool maker throughout the design and development process cannot be over emphasized. Agreements between all parties on major design parameters create stronger bonds, build trust and eliminate surprises during the critical moment of production startup. Designs are typically improved and optimized for production. One of the major problems in most product launches is a surprise that no one expected. Honest, critical design for manufacturing analyses throughout the design process leads to a graceful transition to production launch with minimal changes and no unwanted surprises. Everyone can share in the glory of the successful product launch.

About the author

Michael Paloian is president of Integrated Design Systems Inc. (IDS), located in Oyster Bay, New York. He has an undergraduate degree in plastics engineering from UMass Lowell and a master's of industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design. Paloian has an in-depth knowledge of designing parts in numerous processes and materials, including plastics, metals and composites. Paloian holds more than 40 patents, was past chair of SPE RMD and PD3. He frequently speaks at SPE, SPI, ARM, MD&M and IDSA conferences. He has also written hundreds of design-related articles for many publications.

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