All companies involved in manufacturingneed to take great care over their quality control processes. They have a dutyto ensure that their engineering team are completely clear on the preciserequirements of each product at the design phase, so that the final pieceperforms as it should. This is all the more important considering that plasticsare becoming more and more ubiquitous, used in everything from car engines tospace rockets. Plastics are therefore integral to our modern world- andtherefore have to be properly understood. MANUFACTURING AND SUPPLIER INPUTThere’s nothing more frustrating thanbuying a plastic product, only to find that it breaks or fails shortly afteryou first use it. Often, when you take a look at what caused the breakage, youwill realize that the product in question was clearly designed by someone whodidn’t really know what they were doing. This means that the mold from whichthe product was created contributed to the failure site, and this should havebeen spotted by the manufacturer’s quality control team.

When something goeswrong, though, that means not enough time was spent checking over the design,mold, and assembly of the piece. This is especially true if the piece faileddue to normal, everyday use. This is why it’s essential that all departments collaboratein both the design and manufacture processes, to be certain that the productperforms its end-use function perfectly. One of the main reasons why plasticparts fail is due to a lack of adequate radii or sharp corners in the mold, sothese should be avoided wherever possible.However, putting this into practice isn’talways as simple as it should be, and will depend on how well the design andmanufacturing teams interact. If the customer company is an outside supplier,then they will need to ensure that their input is heard and their requirementsare made clear.

If both parts of the process are performed by the same company,then the departments will need to work closely together to deliver the optimumend results. Either way, the process should involve a great number ofchecklists, and full interaction between the employees of both companies toprovide a product that performs exactly as it should, while still remainingwithin the expected pricing guidelines. VENDOR SELECTIONBefore the production process can begin, itis vital that you make the right choice when it comes to your product supplier.Instead of just opting for the cheapest choice, you should instead choose amolder who can offer invaluable experience. Should your production departmentnot have a lot of experience with molding or part design, then it’s a smartidea to get a second opinion before you roll out production.

After all, it’s cheaperand easier to fix any errors at this stage, rather than further down the line.If you will be manufacturing a lot ofpieces, then it may be best for you to team up with an experienced custommolder, and have them break the mold in and establish the parts cycle on yourbehalf, before bringing things in-house. If you take this route, though, thenmake sure you are completely clear with the molder that this is your intentup-front. If necessary, add some money on to the part price to compensate themfor their experience and capabilities. You may well wind up having themcontinue to supply the part, at a requoted price, when they show you that theycan deliver optimum results ahead of schedule. VENDOR SURVEYChoosing the right custom molder is vitalto the success of any new program. An experienced molder will be able to bringessential knowledge to the table, to help your engineering department designand manufacture the optimum plastic products within your budget.You will need to carefully analyze all outsidevendors to check they have the required knowledge, capabilities, and experiencerequired with manufacturing injection molded products in your requiredmaterial.

If your chosen molder lacks experience with your materials, then youcould experience problems down the line, such as a degrading of the material,and the molder won’t be able to spot this. Experience is especially vital forstructural products, and those with visible show areas. During manufacturing,high-gloss surfaces and those which will later be decorated need to becarefully protected so that they are not contaminated.

This contamination canbe caused in numerous ways, including poor handling of the product, fansblowing dust onto the product, and the type of mold release used, since airmovements could carry contaminants on to the part surface. These are only a fewof the items which need to be considered, so choose wisely.Wherever possible, talk to previouscustomers and get references, and also carry out an audit of the facility to seethe quality of work performed there. You may also want to find out if themolder will be able to help you with part and mold design as well.

Choosing acustom molder is just as important as taking on a new business partner, sincethey will be an essential part of your business.By auditing each supplier, you will haveenough information to choose the best custom molder within your budget. Theeasiest way to obtain information is to have your auditing team speak directlyto the supplier.

That way, you will understand how the custom molder works, andhow they will share their knowledge to help with the manufacturing process.Be sure to obtain quotes from multiplecustom molders, and compare that information to make an informed choice. Auditresults should be virtually identical for product and mold design, although variationsdue to the molders knowledge and experience will likely arise.Once you have awarded the contract to yourchosen molder, you’ll need to make various legal agreements. These include the productprice, delivery schedule, the procedures to be used, and how any disagreementswill be resolved. Discuss these with your team, and select which elements willbe necessary for your contract, as well as the particular requirements.

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