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Roman Young
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Design And Manufacture Of Plastic Components Fo...

In the world of plastics, Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is the combination of art, science and technologies necessary for designing a plastic part or product prior to tooling and production that will meet customer quality and cost expectations. The goal of DFM is to deliver greater levels of customer satisfaction, lower production costs and greater profits.

Design and Manufacture of Plastic Components fo...


Design for Manufacturing (DFM) involves designing a product that optimizes manufacturing efficiencies for the equipment and/or process used in its production in order to realize the lowest possible unit costs at the highest possible quality. The most important reason for integrating DFM into manufacturing a plastic injection molded product is that 70% of its manufacturing costs can be determined by design decisions.

Beyond just estimating manufacturing costs, your injection molder should be using DFM principles to reduce the costs of components, reduce the costs of assembly, reduce the costs of supporting production, and to identify the impact of DFM decisions on other factors throughout the entire design and production process.

Another reason for selecting a molder that uses DFM principles is the increasing complexity of plastic injection molded parts. Consideration of tolerance, draft angles, undercuts, and more, need to happen in the design stage in order to achieve the quality/cost requirements of customers.

In addition to main areas of a part, uniform wall thickness is a crucial design element when it comes to edges and corners. Adding generous radii to rounded corners will provide many advantages to the design of a plastic part including less stress concentration and a greater ability for the material to flow. Parts with ample radii also tend to be more economical and easier to produce, with greater strength and appearance.

Surface finish options for plastic injection molded parts vary depending on part design and the chemical make-up of the material used. Finishing options should be discussed early in the design process as the material chosen may have a significant impact on the type of finish implemented. In the case where a gloss finish is used, material selection may be especially important. When considering additive compounds to achieve a desired surface finish and enhance the quality of a part, working with an injection molder that is aligned with knowledgeable material science professionals is essential.

Material selection is a critical part of the DFM path to high quality/low cost/fast production plastic injection molded parts and products. The sheer number of types of plastics and their associated properties makes discussions between material providers, injection molders and product manufacturers critically important, as addressing specific needs early in the design process is key to avoiding costly changes later.

Manufacturers use a wide variety of plastics to mold parts incorporated into products and have increasingly begun to replace other materials like bronze, stainless steel, aluminum, and ceramics. Some of the most popular reasons for using or switching to plastic include longer overall lifespan of the part, reduced wear on other components of a product, faster production line speeds, corrosion resistance and weight reduction. In addition, companies report an average 25-50 percent cost savings when parts are converted to plastic which oftentimes exhibit superior performance attributes.

In recent years, plastic injection molders have turned to the principles and technologies associated with scientific molding. The goal of scientific molding is to (1) save developmental costs and time by eliminating trial and error in the design process, (2) create dependable, defect-free tooling that eliminates costly mold rework, improves part quality, and accelerates time to market, and (3) create a repeatable and easily auditable manufacturing process.

The sharp line that was once drawn between development and production is now, oftentimes, blurred with manufacturers leaning on industry design experts to become involved in the design for manufacturability process. In fact, manufacturers rank design as the top factor in reducing their overall manufacturing costs.

During DFM, all your suppliers, engineering experts, and anyone else you have engaged will help you foresee manufacturing risks and prevent them before you begin the mold. They challenge the design aspects, such as number of components in a part, part material, and surface finishes and complexity, to make sure the qualities are appropriate. Engineers will also want to consider timeline, quality, and aesthetic requirements, such as gate vestige, cycle times, and loss rate.

A key benefit to examining DFM during the easy design phase is reduced cost. Companies are able to reduce costs through DFM by reducing the number of part components, reducing complexity, selecting the most efficient material, and selecting the right mold and process in the beginning.

A medical device manufacturer needed a closed system for a sealed liquid. The original design), had two molded components. During DFM, the engineer suggested reducing the component and implementing open slots, which allowed for the creation of interlocking features within the single component for the final design.

This is because parts can continually be updated and improved upon during design, enhancing the quality of the product. A key component of DFM is reviewing the current design and continuing to make iterations and improvements to the design until it is fully ready to be manufactured.

Many design firms think they know how to injection mold a part. But until you are in the trenches of designing a mold, potential risks, such as a mold breaking over time, are not as obvious. These plastic injection molding risks are obvious to our engineers because we have experience from a tooling, engineering, and manufacturing perspective.

When clients come to Natech with their designs, we conduct a DFM analysis on the initial product design to address potential functional, operational, and financial risks. Other times, clients reach out because because they did not receive enough Design for Manufacture (DFM) support at another manufacturer.

In a medical device, the original design includes two individual molded components. However, during DFM, engineers realized the same part requirements and functionality could be achieved by using a single component in an up and down mold. Overall, this reduced the number of molds needed, assembly operations costs, and risks.

Designing a plastic part for manufacturability involves many important factors that touch on all areas of part design, tooling, material selection and production. First, it is essential to build parts around functional needs by keeping design intent or the end use in mind. Consider weight reductions, the elimination of fabrication and assembly steps, improving structural components, reducing costs and getting products to market quicker. Here are 8 important factors to consider to meet your plastic part design goals for a successful production process.

Working with an experienced plastic injection molder and engineering team is a critical component to avoiding many issues that can occur during the design and development process. If you keep these factors in mind during the design process, and align with a knowledgeable plastics engineer, you will be on track to get your product to market quicker and within your budget.

For products that require multiple components to be assembled, there may be an opportunity to redesign the part to combine two components. Engineers will evaluate how the components are used with each other and determine if they can be combined without negatively impacting molding, costs, or adding additional processes.

Structural features such as bosses, ribs, and gussets need to be designed correctly. Bosses are projections on the plastic component, such as a screw receptacle or a locator for a mating pin, that are typically used to assemble the final part. Bosses should be isolated from the corner as sinkage in the nominal wall can occur. Bosses can be strengthened by connecting them to ribs at the wall or gussets to the base.

When it comes to designing your high-performance part, turn to the experts at Ensinger. Our design for manufacturing (DFM) for high-performance plastics requires in-depth knowledge beyond that required for injection molding with commodity polymers. At Ensinger, we have the in-depth specialist knowledge of the processes and materials required to solve your toughest challenges. Contact us today.

Learn more about our CNC milling capabilities and how we can help bring your ideas to life. Our expert team is ready to take on your next project. We offer comprehensive plastic CNC milling services from the micro in size to much larger 1 meter long components.

If you have a requirement to manufacture a product, part or component from the ground up, our consultative design service provides access to our team of experts who have a wealth of experience in delivering engineering solutions in fluoropolymers and engineering plastics.

Working with plastics for over 25 years has given us a unique understanding of their properties and how they behave under different operating conditions. This allows us to provide superior service to our customers through innovative product design and efficient production methods.

Our vast knowledge of engineering plastic components means we can manufacture components and parts to your specification, and advise you on the right grade of material for your project. We're specialists in fluoropolymers and work with an ever-increasing range of PTFE, PEEK and PCTFE, often developing custom fluoropolymers to support our client's needs.

Design for manufacturing (DFM) is an approach to product development that emphasizes the importance of designing a product in such a way that it is easy to manufacture. Also known as design for manufacturability, it is used in a wide range of engineering disciplines, including the injection molding of small plastic parts. Through the smart application of DFM principles to everything from the raw materials used to dimensional tolerances to the number of components in a finished part, companies can often produce more parts faster and at a lower cost. 041b061a72

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