If you’re thinking about getting something injection moulded, there is one overriding pair of factors the most beginners aren’t necessarily aware of that has a huge impact on the whole process and life cycle of the product.
Mould tools = high cost
Injection moulding production = low cost
(Please be aware that the “high cost/low cost” are only relative statements geared towards people who haven’t experience in the industry.)
Normally this is quite a shock to most people who haven’t been involved with the industry before but this is the fact of the matter. Injection mould tools aren’t cheap. If you’re going to be making more than 1000 parts/year for some years, a 1-16 impression mould tool will cost you something in the region of between £3-20,000 to make – and take anything between 5-12 weeks to be made – from finalisation of the design.
This is the most common barrier to entry to the market. You’ll need a budget! That is a budget for the design of the part, tool and following that, the production of the tooling.
After you have paid for the tooling to be made, the cost of the parts are relatively inexpensive – depending on materials, sizes, cycle times, impressions/mould etc.
This is the most significant factor for almost all people starting with a part idea. High upfront costs mean that at the very least you’ll need some capital to start the project – and furthermore: sales must be guaranteed or at least assured. How you do that is not our business!
There are options for short run, lower cost injection moulding tooling. These generally involved some kind of modular tooling being made – this basically means that your tooling is built from a small block of steel inserted inside a tooling template. The template stays the same – all you need to do is change the inserted metal part. Softer metals can like aluminium, mild steel, nickel or epoxy (as opposed to hardened tool steel or berylium copper) can be used, but for the most part these are not advisable as the tooling can get damaged quite easily, making the saving a false economy. Often lower budget modular toolmakers will also ask you to reduce the simplicity of your product as they may not be able to produce parts with an undercut.