Rapid tooling is not merely for mass production that involves expensive machinery for building metal or steel tools. Today, there is such a thing as rapid injection molding to deliver a wide range of custom plastic parts to satisfy the requirements of OEMs, product designers, or engineers. As more prototyping technologies evolve, it’s still preferred along with older prototyping methods. The process is similar to standard injection molding but with a different manner of manufacturing tooling.
Understanding the process
Standard injection molding aims to create durable molds out of hardened steel. However, the material is challenging to machine. Rapid injection molding is ideal for smaller runs, allowing the use of softer metals like aircraft-grade aluminum alloys. However, service providers may recommend stainless steel molds to give more value to you. No matter what you choose, these materials reduce tooling time and the need to post-process the results.
Dies for injection molding are easier to redesign because they have fewer joints, resulting in a longer lifespan and high precision. You can remove the cavity to make adjustments and leave the rest. The process is also ideal for building parts from real materials with lower upfront investment.
When to use it
Product designers and engineers choose rapid injection molding when they produce prototypes and parts quickly for design analysis. They find it dependable and streamlined for designing and testing various material types and components.
RIM can also be cost-effective for low-volume production of end-use parts of up to 100,000 pieces from production resins. This time, the process can be akin to end-use prototype manufacturing because it produces production-grade parts, even when they are prototypes. Moreover, it reduces the costs and lead times for part production.
Is it for you?
Contact a reputable provider of rapid injection molding services for a free project review. They will work closely with you to study your requirements and help you design your part to make it suitable for the process. Otherwise, they can suggest other prototyping methods, such as 3D printing, CNC machining, or die casting.