Finding a way to reduce time to market and ensure on-time delivery are critical success factors for customers using high-performance plastic components in their products or applications. Companies rely on efficient product development and seamless production processes to maintain a competitive edge in today’s competitive landscape. Your partner for injection molding and plastic part manufacturing should have strategies in place that promote timeliness and efficiency.
Below are 10 things to look for in your product manufacturer to ensure you get to market quickly.
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Supply chain disruptions over the last couple of years have highlighted the risks involved with international molds and the manufacturing delays that occurred as a result. Transferring your molds stateside can mitigate these risks and reduce time to market if you have a capable injection molder with a proven transfer plan that includes transparency, communication, and engineering infrastructure to support it.
Design for Manufacturability (DFM) Analysis
Your injection molder can get your product to market faster by applying Design for Manufacturability (DFM) to your product design. Through DFM, engineers can look at product design elements, such as wall thickness, draft angles, or undercuts, and determine if they are designed for efficiency. Redesigns upfront can prevent delays in manufacturing and reduce scrap and the additional manufacturing required to make up for the scrap.
Mold Flow Analysis
Similar to the benefits of DFM, simulation software can be used to predict potential manufacturing issues so they can be addressed before molds are built and production begins. Engineers input data into the software, such as a CAD model, machine conditions, material properties, and boundary conditions (e.g., pressure, temperature, and filling and cooling times). The software uses mathematical models and algorithms to predict how the molten plastic will fill the mold cavity, cool, and solidify. Engineers can identify potential problems, such as short shots, air traps, or uneven cooling, and optimize the mold design or process parameters to eliminate these issues. Adjustments can be made, and the simulation rerun until desired results are achieved.
Preproduction and Prototyping
Testing your design before going into full production can reduce time to market in the long run. Sometimes what looks good on paper (or CAD files) doesn’t transfer over into reality, particularly when parts are required to fit together with other parts. Being off by a small amount can create significant issues. Having physical samples of the design for testing and validation will allow you to make changes before you get into production.
Automation and Robotics
Efficiency in the injection molding and manufacturing process is essential for getting products to market quickly. Injection molding automation systems, such as using robotics to place parts for insert molding, bring consistency and time savings to manufacturing. Integrating automation and robotics into manufacturing increases production efficiency, minimizes human error, and reduces lead times. Additionally, automated monitoring of molding machines in real time sends an alert when machines start to gravitate toward the parameter setting edge. This will prevent scrap from being produced, which can delay your product’s shipment.
While lean manufacturing is a systematic approach to minimizing waste and maximizing value in manufacturing processes, it also reduces the time it takes to move a part through production. By eliminating any activity or process that does not add value to the product, the approach reduces costs, improves quality, and increases efficiency. The ultimate objective is to create a streamlined, efficient, and responsive production system that optimizes resources and enhances production flow by minimizing bottlenecks.
In-House Tool Room
In-house mold shops allow for mold maintenance, eliminating excess downtime. Also, if an unexpected issue arises, molds can be tended to and quickly put back into production. In some cases, simple tooling can be built in-house. Molders relying on outside builders for tooling should have longstanding, trusted relationships that deliver on time. These capabilities all impact a partner’s ability to reduce time to market.
To ensure you don’t run into issues with material availability, ensure your molding partner has developed strong relationships with suppliers and maintains an inventory of essential materials and components to ensure timely production and avoid delays due to supply chain disruptions.
Stocking programs and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) are supply chain management strategies that help get products to market faster by streamlining inventory management, enhancing visibility through better forecasting, and improving order processing. When your plastics manufacturer maintains adequate inventory levels and facilitates just-in-time deliveries, you will see reduced lead time, accelerating your overall time-to-market.
Secondary and Alternative Operations
Sometimes additional CNC machining is required for very tight tolerances. If your plastics processor offers injection molding and machining, you will reduce time to market by interfacing with one vendor instead of two. The same is true if the same vendor can do secondary operations, such as ultrasonic welding, heat staking, and hardware placement; laser marking or printing; functional testing; and assembly.
Specialized Materials Require Expertise: Processing thermoplastics comes with a list of unique challenges and considerations to keep in mind. Experience is essential.
Reduce Time to Market With Ensinger
From well-planned mold transfers to advanced assembly operations and all the areas in between, we are positioned to move your products through our processes efficiently and reduce lead times.
Contact us today to learn how we can make a difference with your products and get you to market faster.