Did you know that plastic parts can provide 25 to 50 percent cost savings over metal ones? That is why plastics have taken off in a variety of industries, from automotive to aerospace, medical, and consumer products manufacturing. And it is why we are seeing an increase in processes like insert molding.
Insert molding combines different materials into a single item. While it is very much like other types of molding processes, it affords advantages that are not otherwise possible.
If you are unfamiliar with insert molding, the information below will give you an idea of the many benefits it offers. Keep reading to find out how it can help your industry produce better products and save money.
Insert Molding Basics
Insert molding is similar to basic injection molding. Like injection processes, it involves putting melted plastic resins into a mold where they cool and solidify.
The only difference in insert molding is that manufacturers can place components in the mold before it closes. This allows the plastic resins to form around it. As it hardens, the result is a customized part that takes less time to make and weighs less than an all-metal alternative, making it a key process to leverage in DFM.
It is possible to insert many different types of materials in the mold. These include magnets, tubing, mounting brackets, screws, and almost any metal component.
This advantage reflects the shift of many industries in replacing metal parts with plastic ones. Plastic offers lower weight and, depending on the part, comparable durability in operation. It also is resistant to corrosion, unlike most metals.
There are many advantages to this availability. Here are seven to consider.
One big advantage of insert molding is that it affords enhanced product design and manufacturing. The precision with which you can place inserts into a mold design cannot be achieved with other molding processes. In short, plastic parts with integrated components are much stronger and more reliable.
Also, since there is no assembly involved in this one-step process, there is less opportunity for error in manufacturing.
Plastic parts can be up to 50 percent lighter than their metal counterparts. This, combined with strength, is one of the primary reasons that industries are turning to plastic molding for parts. From fuel efficiency to better ease-of-use for surgical instruments, lighter weight enhances performance and functionality.
The insert molding process allows the production of parts that are much smaller or thinner, without sacrificing durability or performance. A simple example is vehicle components. Thinner door and console parts mean more room in the interior of the car.
|Pins can be automatically placed into a plastic mold, like this custom connector, which then hardens to keep them in place.|
Insert molding achieves cost savings in two ways. First, they allow the use of much cheaper materials. In general, resins are much more affordable than metals.
Also, molding production processes themselves are cost-effective. Insert molding is a one-step process. Unlike other types of molding, assembly and labor costs can be streamlined.
Insert molding eliminates a second assembly step in the manufacturing process. The insertion of metal or other components is integrated with the molding step, so there is no need for a stand-alone task. This saves time and money associated with labor and specialized equipment for these processes.
6. Variety of Materials
Insert molding can use many different types of plastic resins in the process. These including thermoplastics, which are eco-friendly since you can recycle them. The most common thermoplastics are polyethylene, polystyrene, and nylon. These are all lightweight, durable, and ideal for consumer products to heavy-duty industrial ones.
Other common materials are thermosets, such as epoxy, and elastomers. Natural rubber, which is both strong and flexible, is a good example of the latter.
7. Variety of Designs
Besides materials, insert molding allows many different types of shapes and designs for its parts. This is often not achievable using metals. It’s obvious how unlimited configurations have expanded the range of possibilities for engineering and design in different industries.
Leveraging These Advantages
Because of the advantages cited above, we are seeing many industries shifting toward insert molding for plastic components. One example is automotive manufacturing and trucking. This is due to weight reduction, which means better fuel economy. This has been a huge asset in manufacturers continuing to meet federal fuel-efficiency standards.
Besides replacing non-mechanical parts like side panels, many polymers are being used in engine parts. They can reduce weight without compromising performance in the motor.
The medical field is a common industry where we are seeing more plastic parts with integrated metal components. This includes many surgical tools and devices.
That is why you are seeing more consumer product manufacturing moving towards plastics. Likewise, aerospace and aviation engineers are turning to high-quality molded plastic for aircraft parts. Like in the automotive sector, lower weight is a vital asset to aeronautics manufacturing.
Plastics have become an asset in military and defense equipment manufacturing as well. It allows the production of lighter gear for the troops. It also has afforded many advantages in armed forces vehicle production, including stealth and armor upgrades that would not be possible using metals.
Finally, a niche industry where plastics have replaced metal parts is LED lighting. The plastic housing is much more versatile and does not absorb heat as metal ones.
Find Quality Parts Today
Now that you have an idea of the many advantages of insert molding, you can decide if this process is right for your industry. Look for parts manufacturers that are using these methods to produce quality parts that are superior in performance and more affordable. Doing so will help you improve your end product while saving money.
At Bead Electronics, we provide quality components to a range of industries. These include automotive, communications, industrial, lighting, medical, military, and aerospace. Reach out to us today to see if we can help meet your manufacturing needs at the most competitive prices you will find.