Some observers of the plastics making industry, specifically those with a beneficial interest, would like to have you think that 3D printing is going to be the demise of injection molding. While there are definitely cases where 3D printing makes sense, the reports of the death of injection molding have actually been greatly exaggerated.
Plastic injection molding used by an excellent plastic injection molding manufacturer is a tried-and-true approach of production that is in no threat of disappearing anytime soon. It is a fundamental, reputable method of producing high quality plastic parts. In spite of current enhancements in the technology of 3D printing and those likely to emerge in the future, the fact is that more than 80% of plastic parts utilized in products today need to be injection formed.
The response to the question, “Which production approach is best for my part?” is, “It depends.” It depends upon variables like quantity, quality and cost.
David Kazmer, Teacher of Plastics Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, stated in a released paper that 3D printing presently makes good sense for the most fast “procurement time to amount” for a little amount of 50 or less units.
So for production runs, injection molding used by a good plastic injection molding manufacturer is still the very best production approach, specifically thinking about the long production time included for 3D printing compared to injection molding.
There is an emerging “hybrid” practice of 3D printing the mold tooling inserts only, then producing the parts with injection molding. For particular limited applications, 3D printed inserts can be employed as a test mold for product advancement and really limited quantities. A 3D printed mold may last for normally simply 60 to 180 pieces.
Kazmer’s research study took a look at where 3D printed tooling inserts may suit the huge picture, and concluded that there were still significant concerns with both metal inserts (surface area finish and machine expense) and polymer inserts (surface area finish as well as bad strength and heat transfer).
One of the crucial restrictions of 3D printing is the failure to make parts with the exact same physical homes as standard injection molded parts. Although the variety of various products offered for 3D printing appears to be continuously increasing, it is still restricted compared to all the numerous plastic products that can be formed. While a 3D printed prototype might be acceptable for evaluating its shape, there is no way to evaluate the material characteristics if your model is not the exact same material as the production part will be.
Another issue pointed out in Kazmer’s research study was surface area finish. While the surface area finish of the part might vary inning accordance with how excellent (expensive) the 3D printer is, it is still no match for the smooth surface areas obtainable with polished steel injection molds.
Last, however definitely not least in the list of quality distinctions, is the problem of tolerances. Although the capability of 3D printing to hold tighter part tolerances is expected to improve with innovative procedure styles (like parallel printing) and optimization, today the part quality achieved in 3D printing is inferior compared with molded parts.
The total expense of a 3D printed part compared to an injection molded part is tied to the quantity being produced, presuming the aforementioned quality problems do not preclude 3D printing as an alternative from eviction. In the research study at Lowell, the expense of 3D printing 300 of a certain size part was $20 each. The piece price of injection molding a million such systems with a steel mold was just $1.13 each.
Another cost factor to think about is that related to a design change in the prototyping stage. In 3D printing, there is no cost of customizing a mold for a prototype model. Design modifications are merely made to the CAD design.
Within injection molding used by an excellent plastic injection molding manufacturer, design modifications with a steel mold are typically easy to make and relatively low-cost, but with aluminum molding tools, a design modification may require the cost of all new tooling.
In addition, brand-new simulation software is now readily available to help deal with injection molding challenges in software – rather than through pricey, lengthy prototyping iterations. Evaluating molds in a virtual simulation environment crosses interaction barriers and enables designers, moldmakers, and production experts to collaborate more effectively and efficiently, while eliminating the requirement for expensive prototype and mold cycles.
When it pertains to 3D printing versus injection molding provided by a good plastic injection molding manufacturer such as Mold China co.,Ltd, the best production approach for your parts will become clear when you can address these concerns concerning your wanted amount, quality and cost.