It is inevitable for us to accidentally destroy parts of an equipment after long usage. The annoying part of this situation is when you only have to replace the damaged part but it is so hard to find in supermarkets wherein you end up buying an entire new set. You end up paying for the price of a brand new equipment when you could simply have purchased that one tiny part for a few dollars. Most of the time, these tiny equipment parts are made out of plastic if not metal and manufacturing companies rarely produce them because of its situational demand.
Custom plastic parts manufacturing is a type of business limited to major plastic corporations and big plastic companies. It is rare to see startup entrepreneurs and small businesses gamble on this specialized type of business. This is mainly because the equipment involved to create these small random plastic parts is a bit expensive and requires a lump sum of budget. Fortunately, there are already outsourcing companies out there who are willing to assist small up to mid-sized entrepreneurs with plastic parts manufacturing to make things happen despite a limited budget.
When outsourcing companies mediate with small businesses in the plastic manufacturing industry, it does not mean the manufacturing process gets degraded as the result of having a smaller budget. The clients still get to enjoy top quality equipment operated by industry professionals in legit plastic factories. The only difference is their designs get entertained even if they only order a small quantity. Outsourcing companies actually provide a privilege for these smaller companies but the catch is they cannot transfer from one factory to another that easily because not all will accommodate low quantity orders.
The Process of Making Your Own Plastic Parts
In order to gain a better understanding of plastic parts manufacturing, let me break down to you the process and sub-processes involved in making your own plastic parts with the help of industry professionals. Here is a simple guide on how do you make your own plastic parts.
1. Make CAD/3D Design Files
Regular sketches and drawings of your plastic part designs aren’t acceptable in the world of professional manufacturing. Your plastic parts designs will only be entertained if you present manufacturing companies CAD/3D design files of your products. If you do not have the computer skills for it, might as well hire a professional graphic designer to translate your design from regular drawing into a standard CAD/3D design file.
2. Make a 3D Print Sample
Since you now have the visual representation of the product in the form of CAD/3D design files, you now have to develop an actual 3D print product sample of your plastic part. The 3D print sample acts as the physical representation of your product but it does not have to be made out of the actual plastic material. The prototype can be made out of anything as long as it clearly resembles your product with the right dimensions and colors.
3. Make Metal Injection Molds
This phase is the most crucial part of all plastic parts manufacturing. Now you have to make the actual mold/s for your plastic parts. For those of you who do not know, a plastic mold is a cavity made out of stainless steel or aluminum which follows the shape of a specific plastic design for which it is patterned. A plastic mold can come in one or multiple parts depending on the plastic product design requirement. For multiple parts, a clamp is used to hold the parts together once the plastic material is injected.
By using the 3D print sample as a model, your plastic manufacturer will now create plastic molds based on it. Regular plastic takes a month or two to finish depending on the complexity of the design. Some may even take more than 3 months but this usually happens for big plastic designs. When it comes to regular plastic parts produced through plastic extrusion, a month or two is a plausible timetable.
4. Do Mass Production
With the plastic molds ready, make the first sample out of it to make sure you get the desired product out of the molds. In case there are any errors to the first sample, you can easily determine where the process went wrong. If the mold itself is the problem then expect your manufacturing process to be pushed back for a few months since you have to redo the molds. This is why I cannot stress enough how critical the phase of creating injection molds can be. However, if the first sample comes out perfect then you are now ready for mass production.
These four steps on how do you make your own plastic parts are the standard step-by-step procedures followed by professionals in the plastic manufacturing industry. There can be some sub-processes added in between depending on some plastic manufacturers, but the four steps mentioned above already provide the basic overview.