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The process of bringing a new product to market involves many steps, including designing the component and creating prototypes to test out the design. After the design is finalized and the prototypes are evaluated, you may also want to produce a small number of pieces for internal or external product testing purposes before proceeding to full production. In the case of injection-molded components, one option for producing these pieces is short run injection molding—also known as small-volume, low-volume, or small-batch production. This production solution enables you to generate a limited batch that you can use to gauge market reaction so you can appropriately scale production to meet actual consumer demand.

Need help with a short-run injection molding project? The injection molding experts at Abtec are here to help! We can assist you at every step of your project, from design to prototyping to production, ensuring you receive the components you need how and when you need them.

Benefits of Short-Run Injection Molding

Short-run injection molding offers numerous benefits. For example:

  • It serves as a bridge between the prototyping and full production stages. Since short-run injection molding produces only a small number of pieces, it allows the production team to push out a product that can still be adjusted later on depending on its performance in the market.
  • It produces high-quality components. Since short-run injection molding accepts automation technology and utilizes low-cost, high-quality materials, it easily outputs superior parts and products at competitive prices.
  • It allows companies to reduce in-house inventory while meeting lead-time demands. Short-run production quickly produces finished components, so they can be sent back to the customer and introduced to the market in a shorter period. As a result, companies can have parts produced and delivered on an as-needed basis.

Injection Molding Services at Abtec

At Abtec, our team has over 100 years of combined experience designing and manufacturing high-quality custom plastic injection-molded parts and products. This gives us all of the knowledge and skills we need to assist with the various stages of short-run injection molding projects, including:

  • Mold Design: We use information age technologies and advanced mold-making processes to produce custom tooling solutions for your product problems. We can work with your existing drawings, sketches, models, parts, and molds or start from scratch to produce tooling designs. Some of the CAD formats we use include Cimatron, SolidWorks, ProE, AutoCAD, and CADKey.
  • Custom Tooling: Once the injection mold design is approved, our mold fabrication team uses the latest CNC machining technologies to manufacture the molds quickly without sacrificing precision or quality. We can produce molds for a range of thermoplastics, including ABS, HDPE, LDPE, PE, HIPS, TPU, and PET.
  • Prototyping: We create rapid prototypes of each component using 3D printing technology. These prototypes can be used to ensure form, fit, and function before the final injection molding tooling is built. We provide FDM printed prototypes in ABS, PLA, TPU, and many other materials and partner with other companies for additional prototyping options (e.g., SLA, SLS, and urethane casting).
  • Injection Molding: Our injection molding facility is run by experienced operators and equipped with machines with high repeatability and clamping pressures ranging from 28–240 tons. We can support molding operations involving up to 16 ounces of material per cycle. Whether you need small or large components in low or high volumes, we can meet your injection molding requirements.

Learn More About Our Short-Run Injection Molding Solutions

Want more information on our short-run injection molding capabilities? Check out our Plastic Injection Molding FAQs page or contact us today.

At Abtec, Inc., we specialize in custom injection molding, creating tools and parts for customers all over the world from prototype to large production runs. Plastic injection molding is a manufacturing process that involves injecting liquified plastic into a mold, allowing it to conform to the shape of the mold and harden to create a specific shape. This beneficial process has numerous applications in many industries, including the medical industry.

Components and devices for the medical industry must comply with strict industry standards and be made from durable, reliable, and FDA-approved materials. Plastic injection molding not only meets these criteria, but it also offers a host of additional benefits for the medical industry.

The Standards Met & Materials Commonly Used

Parts made for the medical industry must conform to strict standards due to the nature of their use. The FDA outlines different requirements for implantable devices and those being used for medical instruments, and other external use; therefore, it is crucial to consider your application when selecting a medical-grade plastic for the molding process. Other factors such as strength, resistance to heat and chemicals, and operating environment must also be considered when selecting a material to ensure that the part will hold up while in use.

medical grade plasticsCommon medical-grade plastics that can be used with injection molding include:

  • PP. Heat and radiation resistance over extended periods
  • PEEK. Resistant to chemicals and high temperatures, resists fatigue and cracking, works well in radiation-prone environments, and easily sterilized.
  • Polycarbonate. Flexible, high heat resistance, transparent, UV resistance, durable, and resistant to flames.
  • Polysulfone. High temperature with high mechanical strength and rigidity. Good creep strength that is remarkably high over a wide range of temperatures.
  • POM. Resistant to multiple cleaning and disinfection agents, and to a number of solvents. It can be steam sterilized by medical industry’s usual methods, and will maintain good strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability.
  • PEI. Remarkably high creep resistance over a wide temperature and a high permanent operating temperature. Resistance to hydrolysis, along with dimensional stability
  • Polyphenylene Oxide. Strong with outstanding mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. Very low moisture absorption, low thermal expansion, excellent insulating properties, flame resistance, and dimensional stability over a wide range of service temperatures.
  • Polyphenylen Sulfide. A semi crystalline, high temperature thermoplastic polymer. Chemically resistant polymer with amazing mechanical strength, even at temperatures above 200°C (392°F), very stable dimensionally with low susceptibility to creep.

There are many benefits to injection molding for the medical industry, the most prominent being how easily and quickly supplies can be made. Unlike other materials, plastic can be easily injected into a mold to take almost any shape needed, curing into a durable piece of equipment with high levels of precision. This helps to keep prices low, allowing medical facilities to remain sufficiently stocked with important instruments without excessive costs. Cleanliness is also a benefit, as many of these plastics are easy to clean and sterilize without issue.

Abtec Provides Medical Injection Molded Parts

The injection molding process follows these steps:

  1. Create a mold. Injection molding requires a pre-made mold for the material to be injected into. This can be a template for existing pieces or a custom design.
  2. Inject. Pelletized resin which is heated to liquid, is injected into the mold. The plastic fills in the spaces within the mold, forcing out air through tiny vents along the sides.
  3. Cooling. The melted plastic is cooled, allowing it to harden. This is done with a network of water pumps or air vents built throughout the mold that displace the heat from the plastic.
  4. Remove and clean. Once hardened, the part is removed/ejected from the mold and the part is (if necessary) cleaned of any debris or bits of unnecessary plastic.

Abtec, Inc. is at the forefront of medical injection molding and can produce parts or fittings for a large number of applications. We’ve worked closely with our customers to manufacture top-of-the-line moldings and products, including:

  • Ventilators for use during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Parts for radiological cancer treatment
  • Catheter locks
  • Medical Equipment Housings
  • & and, a plethora of parts for a variety of medical devices

Additionally, our on-site cleanroom facilities are frequently in use to eliminate contaminants from parts that are designed for use in laboratory and research facilities.

Medical Plastic Injection Molding from Abtec, Inc.

Plastic injection molding is an invaluable manufacturing technique for the medical industry and beyond. This process allows many parts to be created from medical-grade plastics in a fraction of the time it would take to do so by hand or with other methods. With numerous options for plastic types and applications, medical injection molding continues to be an integral part of industry.

To learn more about our plastic injection molding services for the medical industry, contact us today. You can also email any questions directly to us at sales@abtecinc.com.

Advanced technology gives companies more options when it comes to producing plastic components. Plastic injection molding and 3D printing are two of those options, and they both have their advantages, depending upon the application. While 3D printing is relatively new and attention-grabbing, plastic injection molding is still a trusted solution for precision manufacturing.

3D Printing vs. Plastic Injection Molding

It helps to understand the difference between these processes:

  • 3D Printing: As an additive manufacturing process, layers of material are put together to create the final shape as designed in a digital file.
  • Injection Molding:A proven process for 150 years and counting, injection molding starts with the creation of a mold. The materials are melted, then injected into the mold where it’s left to cool and harden into the finished product.

When determining which process is right for your product, you need to consider the pros and cons of each. 3D printing is great for small production runs and prototyping of small parts or components. Because there’s no mold that has to be created, it’s easy to make changes to the digital design—giving you lots of flexibility when perfecting a new product or when producing something you know you will make changes to on an ongoing basis.

As a newer technology, there are occasional glitches to the process that can interrupt production. 3D printing is also more likely to leave ridges and small defects in the product and 3D printing tolerances are not tight, so you may not end up with precise replicas if you’re creating multiple units.

Plastic injection molding is ideal for larger production runs of all types of components—big or small, simple or complex. After the mold is created, you can work quickly to produce hundreds or thousands of high-quality components with consistent precision. The bigger the run, the lower the cost per unit.

Once built, it can be costly to make changes to the mold.  Which is why it is important to perfect the design before tooling begins.  This is where 3D printing and custom injection molding work well together: 3D printing can be used for experimenting and prototyping, then you can ramp up production with injection molding.

Chances are, you use products every day that are made with 3D printing and injection molding:

3D Printing Applications

  • Clear braces
  • Hearing aids
  • Football helmet liners
  • Bicycle frames
  • Razor handles
  • Jewelry
  • Mascara brushes
  • Shoe insoles
  • Biodegradable pens
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Unique shower heads
  • Custom car accessories
  • And more

Injection Molding Applications

  • Mop heads
  • Equipment housings
  • Vending machine components
  • Medication trays
  • Insulators
  • Roofing vents
  • Raised flooring panels
  • Deck fasteners
  • Bird feeders
  • Toilet seats
  • Barbecue grill accessories
  • Serving pans
  • Children’s furniture
  • Collectible models
  • Point-of-purchase display racks
  • Flower pots
  • And more

Choose Custom Injection Molding with Abtec, Inc.

With about 100 years of combined experience, Abtec, Inc. offers custom injection molding and a variety of secondary operations and support tooling to our clients in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, aerospace and defense, telecommunications, and medical industries, among others. We specialize in innovative solutions for even the most complex designs.

High-quality injection molding starts with a great mold design, and our engineers can help with that, along with material selection and tooling recommendations, to ensure you get the components you need. With state-of-the art technology and a dedicated team of experts, Abtec is a trusted plastics partner around the globe.

Both 3D printing and plastic injection molding have their place in manufacturing, and there are many opportunities for these technologies to work together for the benefit of the client. For high-volume runs of small or large components, injection molding has the advantage of being efficient and cost-effective and offering precise replications of the product. Take a look at our blog to learn more about custom injection molding and how we can help with your next project, then contact us to get started.

Abtec has a team of experts who design, develop, and manufacture custom injection molds and support tooling. When designing parts for injection molding, we work with the most advanced technologies and processes, including state-of-the-art 3D design software to produce precise injection molds and CNC machining technologies to manufacture quality molds in a short time frame.

Abtec builds molds for injection molding using Modular Unit Die, or MUD®, technology. Five standard MUD® frame sizes meet the needs of most molding requirements. However, when parts are larger or have multiple or extra deep cavities, full chase tools are utilized. The engineers and tool designers at Abtec will work with customers to develop the best and most economical injection mold solutions to meet even the strictest industry standards.

Which Materials Are Used to Make Injection Molds?

Steel is a common material for injection molds. The size of the mold is the main determinant of what material will be utilized, as the percentage of steel used in the mold is the main cost factor for the final mold. Other factors include whether the steel will be heat-treated and whether the mold will contain moving parts.  The type of resin to be used is a main factor as well.

Common steels used for plastic injection molds include:

  • P20 Steel: This is an ideal choice because of its polishing ability and good wear and tear resistance.
  • 420 Steel: This is a hardenable, martensitic stainless steel that has a limited operating range.
  • H-13 Steel: This versatile, chromium-molybdenum steel is widely used in hot work and cold work tooling applications.
  • A-2 Steel: This air-hardening tool steel has excellent dimensional stability in heat treatment.
  • D-2 Steel: This air-hardening, high-carbon, high-chromium tool steel features high wear- and abrasion-resistant properties.

Aluminum or Steel?

When deciding between aluminum or steel for injection molding, there are several key differences that will help you choose the best option.

Steel is ideal for large production runs of more than 50,000 units, whereas aluminum is more cost-efficient for small production runs of one to two thousand units. Aluminum molds can see significant wear on larger production runs, at which point they would need to be replaced or modified. Durability makes steel a better choice for advanced injection molding resins because certain additives can cause damage to aluminum injection molds.

Aluminum has quicker heating and cooling times, which leads to faster mold productions. These more uniform heating and cooling times can reduce the number of rejected parts due to shrinkage, warping, or other defects. Steel is ideal for molds that require very precise and detailed features. When it comes to repairs and replacements, damaged steel molds are more costly than aluminum molds, which are much easier to repair or modify.

Contact Abtec for Your Injection Mold Needs

With years of experience producing high-quality injection molds for a range of industries, Abtec is ready to work with you to create custom injection molds to meet your needs. Contact us to learn how we can help you from part conception and design to engineering, injection mold making and the manufacture of your custom parts.

 

What Can We Mold from ABS Plastic?

The Basics of ABS

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is one of the most widely used thermoplastic polymers across numerous domestic, commercial, and industrial applications today. The history of ABS can be traced back to the 1940s. During this time, manufacturers often used styrene acrylonitrile copolymers. While this material’s increased hardness over styrene made it suitable for some applications, it still possessed many physical and mechanical limitations. This led to the introduction of a third monomer, butadiene, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) was created. This material was first available in the 1950s and has gone on to become one of the most widely sought engineering polymers.

The three individual components of ABS possess unique characteristics that contribute to the overall properties of the final material. Acrylonitrile provides the chemical and thermal resistance, butadiene improves its strength and toughness, and styrene is responsible for the glossy finish of the final product. These attributes have made it ideal for applications where durability, superior surface quality, and luster are a priority.

Properties of ABS Plastic

One of the most defining characteristics of ABS is its thermoplastic property. ABS thermoplastics are polymers that melt above a certain temperature to become soft and pliable, and then solidify upon cooling. Thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded numerous times without degradation to its mechanical properties. This is in direct contrast to thermoset plastics, which burn when heated. The thermoplastic property of ABS makes it one of the most popular materials in custom injection molding properties of abs plastic infographicprocesses.

ABS also possesses a variety of desirable physical and mechanical properties—most of which are superior to other widely used polymer materials. These include enhanced impact resistance, toughness, hardness, heat resistance, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, and tensile strength. Its chemical composition can be modified by adjusting the proportions of its components to improve specific properties. Therefore, different grades of the material can be produced for suitability in various applications.

Other exceptional properties of ABS include:

  • Dimensional stability
  • Electrical insulation
  • Compressive strength
  • Rigidity
  • Excellent machinability
  • Lustrous aesthetic qualities
  • Receptive to paints and adhesives

Applications/Industries

ABS’s machinability, exceptional properties, and relatively low cost make it ideal for numerous applications. Its use is so widespread that we all interact with it on a daily basis. Everything from luggage, power tools, tool boxes, radio and cell phone housings, furniture, and kitchen appliances are all manufactured using ABS. This polymer is also used in 3D printing and preproduction prototypes due to its excellent dimensional stability and receptiveness to paints and adhesives.

In addition to home and domestic products, ABS is also used in several industrial applications, including, but not limited to:

  • Food handling – ABS is FDA compliant for food contact applications such as appliances and food packaging.
  • Aircraft/aerospace – ABS parts can be found both on the interior and exterior of many types of aircraft. Some of these components include luggage bins, cargo containers, signage, cockpit visors, and seating parts.
  • Automotive – The lightweight property of this plastic is used to make cars lighter and improve fuel efficiency. Typical ABS automotive components include dashboards, wheel covers, body parts, and trimmings.
  • Medical and pharmaceutical – Medical grades of ABS possess improved biocompatibility, making them suitable for food and medicine administering devices. It is also used in the manufacturing of cases and housings for several medical devices.
  • Toys – The non-toxic and durable nature of this material is ideal for children’s toys such as Legos, tricycles, and action figures.

Learn More About ABS Plastic Molding

ABS molding is widely used to create some of the most durable and versatile plastic products on the market today. The skilled technical staff at Abtec Inc. specializes in ABS plastic injection molding services. We can design, develop, and manufacture any mold and supporting tooling for your unique application.

If you would like to learn more about ABS and how Abtec Inc. can turn your concepts into reality, contact us and request a quote today!