“Well, it looked great on paper!” is one of the most common, yet regrettable laments in the history of manufacturing, sports, and warfare. A two-dimensional rendering of a custom molded plastics product or plan often fails to reveal those inherent design flaws that can turn a great idea into an embarrassing (and expensive) failure.
Going forth without a 3-dimensional prototype for custom molded plastics can be a costly error. A prototype brings focus to the idea and allows designers to see and feel their ideas in real context before moving forward with initial production. An accurate model can spawn new ideas to improve the product’s functionality while perhaps eliminating unnecessary production steps.
Industries such as automotive, appliance, electronics, and others routinely create prototypes before committing to full-scale production. Quite often, these initial prototypes are rejected as impractical, difficult to produce, and unmarketable. Mostly, however, prototypes tend to offer new ideas and inspire excitement for moving on to the production stage.
Real Value of Creating Prototypes
While speed-to-market is the mantra of today’s marketers, making the product right before the introduction is critical. GreenLeaf Industries®, a world-class, Tennessee-based custom plastic molding company, recommends creating prototypes for any engineered injection molding designs for several reasons.
Building a prototype provides an opportunity to:
- Tangibly judge the aesthetics of the model to adjust colors, textures, and shapes into the most satisfying and marketable form.
- Assess the suitability of the specified plastic product to determine if adjustments may need to be made to achieve more desired durability and appearance.
- Develop quality assurance testing methods and standards to identify potential production or raw material variances before full-capacity production.
- Measure acceptable production tolerance levels to determine if adjustments can be made to allow for more economical production without sacrificing quality.
- Test to identify structural weaknesses that could cause failure resulting from design errors. From real-life testing results, designers can adjust production processes while improving the integrity and functionality of the product.
- Provide a more accurate perspective on the real cost of production. Prototypes themselves can be expensive, but understanding each step of the process and the amount of material needed will allow engineers to quantify the real cost-per-unit of mass production more accurately.
- Determine opportunities where individual parts can be consolidated or unified to reduce production steps and lower the raw material costs.
- Find ways to streamline or consolidate production steps to reduce labor, equipment, and raw material costs.
- Visualize ways to modify tooling and equipment for increased efficiency.
- Assess the methods of custom molded plastics production that will result in the desired end product at the lowest possible cost.
- Evaluate fasteners and connections to determine if other methods are necessary to create a more durable product.
- Create a decision-making flowchart that determines whether to proceed, re-engineer and create a new prototype, or drop the project.
Who Benefits From a Prototype of a Custom Molded Product?
Developing an accurate prototype is a real value for both the custom molded plastics manufacturer and the client. A 3-dimensional, tangible model gives both parties an opportunity to determine how best to proceed and determine whether the project makes sense.
Prototyping custom molded plastics projects will enhance the chances of success of the project.
Project Sequence: Taking an Idea to Full Production with Custom Molded Plastics
- Initial Concept: The client may present a simple sketch of an idea to the custom molded plastics manufacturer. At this point, the plastics company and client will discuss in detail the intent, scope, features and requirements, and the suggested timeline for completion.
- Engineering Drawing: The custom molded plastics supplier will create a detailed engineering drawing that should replicate the vision of the client. With the client’s approval, the project can proceed to the next stage.
- Prototype: Creation of molds for prototypes to determine if the supplier is still on target with the project as envisioned. Here each of the 12 elements mentioned above can be considered and adjustments made where needed.
- Pilot Production: With full customer approval of the samples and adjustments, a limited pilot production can proceed. Here, any additional modifications and variations may be identified. The customer and manufacturer can collaborate to determine if full production may begin.
Contact GreenLeaf Industries
GreenLeaf Industries in Lenoir City, TN, provides engineered quality and reliable delivery of custom molded plastic products to a broad range of world-class clients. Our strength stems from our commitment and close collaboration with our respected customers.
If you have any questions regarding GreenLeaf’s products or services, check out our website or phone 865-988-5661.
Our experts will be pleased to work with you.