Things to Look for in an Injection Moulding Partner
For newcomers to injection moulding, the process can appear quite daunting and unfamiliar. There are so many things to consider, so many choices to make, and so many potential pitfalls along the way.
For start-up companies, or sole traders with big ideas, this can be especially scary. Particularly if they’re working on a shoestring budget where every penny counts.
That’s why it’s so important to make effective decisions.
Perhaps the most important of all these decisions is choosing a manufacturing partner to support you through the production process.
We’ve put together a list of key factors to consider when making your decision.
We hope that this will serve as a useful guide, particularly to those individuals and companies out there who are embarking on the injection moulding process for the first time.
What to Look for in an Injection Moulding Partner
In-house Toolmaking and Injection Moulding
Sourcing an injection moulding partner who has their own in-house toolmaking and injection moulding is crucial.
In-house tooling and moulding capabilities allow manufacturers to ensure quality control of all tooling and parts that are produced. Since the quality of the finished components will be inextricably linked to the quality of the tooling, it is essential that both manufacturing tasks are carried out in-house, so that the process can be closely monitored from start to finish.
This will allow for greater efficiencies and economies of scale, meaning that better quality products can be delivered within shorter production cycles.
By choosing a manufacturer who has tooling and moulding capabilities all under one roof, it will also save customers the time and hassle of sourcing multiple production partners.
Injection moulded components often need to be produced to very tight tolerances. This requires absolute precision in the manufacture of both the tool and the plastic components.
Injection moulders must have stringent quality control measures in place. They should also have their own Quality Engineering department, who are involved in each project from conception right through to completion. This will ensure that any anomalies are detected as soon as possible, so that suitable resolutions can be identified and implemented.
Failure to adhere to rigid quality control checks could result in the production of defective final parts, as well as delays in bringing these end products to market. This will have negative commercial implications for the customer, including the incurrence of additional costs.
Linked to Quality Control, it is worth ensuring that your injection moulding partner is fully accredited and has been audited by the relevant accreditation bodies on a termly basis. It is important to ensure that they are actively committed to maintaining these accreditations, and that they continue to participate in regular assessments by their accreditors.
ISO accreditations are the accepted standard of practice in the injection moulding industry.
Range of Services
Choose a manufacturing partner with a complete range of services, such as prototyping, part design, and mould flow analysis. Such companies are usually the most credible, reliable partners within the industry since they offer a comprehensive one-stop solution to all your manufacturing needs.
Injection moulding partners who supply sister services, such as toolmaking and CNC machining, are particularly useful. Not only do they reduce the need for multiple suppliers, but they also have a depth of knowledge in-house which can be vital during the completion of complex manufacturing projects, where a varied level of expertise may be required.
In the long run, this can prove to be more cost effective and can reduce production times.
Capabilities and Technologies
It is important before you embark on a project with a new supplier to ask about their production capabilities. You need to ensure that they have the capacity required to fulfil your order within whatever timeframe you require it.
It is important to ensure that the manufacturer has enough machinery, technology, and in-house expertise to deliver the project on spec and to the anticipated level of quality.
A company that invests in both its technologies and the professional development of its people is usually one that stays ahead of the curve.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as how many injection moulding machines do you have? Or how much experience do your toolmakers have? Or what quality tests can you offer to test the accuracy of a component? Or how big is your production facility?
These questions will help you to understand the type of manufacturer you are dealing with.
Plastics Knowledge and Understanding
Material selection is a key consideration during the injection moulding process. Working with experienced injection moulders and plastic polymer experts will help you to identify the correct grade of material for the end application.
Failure to select the correct material can result in a sub-standard final component.
Experienced injection moulding technicians and engineers can help to reduce costs by getting things right first time during the production process. This can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste produced, thus making the process more environmentally friendly.
Look for an injection moulding partner who understands your industry.
Although this is not essential, it can be beneficial to find a manufacturer with specific industry-related experience, as they will better understand the particular challenges of your marketplace.
In markets where there is a high degree of regulation – for instance, the aerospace sector – this is particularly important. If safety is a key requirement for the final application, industry expertise will help to ensure that the final parts are as robust and reliable as they can be.
Find out how long the moulds are guaranteed for. A key question to ask is, does the manufacturer guarantee the moulds for the full life cycle of the project?
Manufacturers should be willing to give you a guarantee of how long they anticipate the mould lasting. They should be able to do this from the start. If minor adjustments are needed for the tooling in order to honour this guarantee over the lifetime of the tool, these should be completed by the manufacturer at no additional expense to the customer.
Effective Customer Service
Note that we are using the term ‘manufacturing partner’ in this article. This implies a company who will not only deliver high quality components, but one which will also be a source of best practice advice throughout the process. In short, a company with whom its customers can build long-standing mutually beneficial relationships based on shared trust.
This is especially important when tackling projects that are highly confidential and involve intellectual property or patent-protected designs. In such instances, professional manufacturing partners will be happy to sign confidentiality documents or non-disclosure agreements, which will help to protect the IP of the products under discussion.
Manufacturing partners who are always available to you and generous with their time are especially attractive.
Price is a key factor for all businesses. Procuring goods and services for less will always hold significant sway with buyers.
However, choosing an injection moulding partner on a price-only basis can be a dangerous strategy. There must be a compromise between price and quality.
Other factors which are important include reliability, trustworthiness, transparency, and an ability to honour deadlines.
What Their Customers Say
There is a great deal of value in taking some time to read reviews about injection moulding companies by their existing customers before you enter into any agreement with them.
Also take the time to read customer testimonials on their website if they have them. You may even choose to speak to some of their customers in confidence about their experiences.
It is also worth investigating to see if they have won any industry awards. Recognition from within the supply chain from peers and competitors is always hard to argue with.
This type of research can help you to make a more informed and reliable decision.
There are many different factors to consider when sourcing an injection moulding partner.
The most important thing to remember is not to be afraid to ask questions. Find out as much as you can about a supplier; work hard to understand their capabilities, their expertise, their quality control processes, and the full extent of the services which they offer.
You can even seek independent advice from their existing customers if you think it would be a worthwhile exercise.
Asking questions will ensure that the manufacturer knows that they will have to work hard to keep your custom.
It will also help you to learn about the overall injection moulding process, and it will provide you with an opportunity through sustained dialogue to build a strong relationship, which will potentially be beneficial to both parties over time.
Looking for a new Injection Moulding Partner?
If you’re looking for an injection moulding partner but don’t know who to choose or how to go about it, we’d be happy to hear from you.
Even if you just want an informal chat about the process, or if you’d like to ask our advice on injection moulding or toolmaking, we’d be very happy to hear from you.
Please either call us on +44 (0) 121 550 5868, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.