The Advantages of Automation Within Manufacturing Industries

Relying solely on humans to perform manufacturing tasks is a thing of the past. With new technology, your business is able to automate mundane systems in order to achieve the end goal faster, and more efficiently. Automation uses controlled systems like computers, robots, and information technology to manage operations and decrease human error.

This inturn allows businesses within the manufacturing sector to run more expeditiously. Reduced costs, increased safety measures, and improved maintenance are just some of the ways your company is able to reap the benefits of automation. This has transformed the nature of employment, factory floors, and the quality of the end product.

At Delcam, we have a wide range of automation systems to sustain manufacturing industries. Our systems will help you produce high-end products, protect your intellectual property, reduce costs, and efficiently organize your output.

Here are some of the advantages of using our automated manufacturing systems:

Safety

The safety of every worker in the manufacturing industry has become a significant concern since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law in 1970. Manufacturing automated systems help companies maintain high safety standards by using machines and robots to perform dangerous tasks instead of human beings.

Manufacturing industries can now combine the Internet Of Things (IOT) and data analytics to track key performance indicators like machinery damage, vehicle mishap, and dangerous materials that may be present.

When manufacturing processes are automated, manufacturers can comply with worker protocols and government regulations with less time and more ease. Rest assured that your workplace is safe and risk-free for your employees when implementing automated systems.

Combating labor shortages

Recently, there has been an increased shortage of skilled employees to improve productivity in the manufacturing industries. Organizations looking to hire are experiencing difficulty finding workers who can maintain and improve the processes in place so the question becomes- How do we combat this?

Luckily, automation is an excellent solution to these increased labor shortage problems. Automated systems can complete tasks efficiently and faster than manual operations. A research report revealed that automating 64% of manufacturing operations can help save up to 749 billion working hours.

Not only will automation save you time, but a report showed that 57% of employees in manufacturing industries believe that automation can improve productivity and human performance. This means companies will get the efficiency from implemented computerized technology as well as from the employees who run and work alongside IoT operated machinery.

Lead times

Lead time measures how long a process takes to complete from beginning to end. Lead time in manufacturing is the amount of time a product takes to be produced and delivered to the final consumer. Managing lead times effectively is critical for manufacturers to improve cash flow and enhance customer experience.

Minimizing lead times allows your organization to complete essential tasks within a shorter turnaround time. According to a report released by CNBC, automated systems increase the rate of production by 30-40%.

It should also be noted that some labor laws and human limitations may limit workers from completing essential tasks. However, robots and other automated machines have no limitations and can work longer without human interaction or shift changes. Since they can work 24/7, you will be sure to reduce lead times by a significant margin.

Cost reduction

The initial cost of investing in automated systems can be a considerable expense for most manufacturers. However, daily manufacturing operations become more streamlined once the machines start running. This makes the initial cost of getting the automated systems up and running less expensive than incurring recurring costs for employee payments.

A recent report revealed that system automation on a macroeconomic scale could improve the global manufacturing GDP by 0.8-1.4% annually. While the progress may seem small, the impact on the overall economic growth is significant.

Quality Control

Quality control inspection is an essential process for manufacturing companies. A small error in the manufacturing process can lead to significant losses, so investing in improved quality control systems becomes essential. In a non-automated system, employees are responsible for checking the flaws in the final product, which means that the entire process can be error-prone.

However, with an automated system, you can set specific criteria for the manufactured products. For example, using recordings and machine vision cameras for monitoring, you can ensure quality control throughout the manufacturing process. Robots used in manufacturing companies’ quality control systems are more precise than human beings and can perform these tasks with 100% accuracy.

Companies can also use automation to monitor machine conditions, environmental conditions, and equipment calibration. For example, suppose the sensors detect a parameter that could produce a defective product. In that case, your automated quality monitoring system will generate an alert to help you identify the source of the problem quicker and more efficiently.

Delcam’s contribution to automation

At Delcam, we offer quality automation solutions to manufacturing companies worldwide. We serve customers from different industries, and our solutions are tailored to meet the needs of sub-entities.

Unlike our competitors, we use robotics and advanced technology to ensure we deliver high-quality solutions on time and keep costs in check. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you want to learn more about how we can help you streamline your manufacturing processes.

How To Speed Up The RFQ Process

The decision to request a quote from another company is not one made lightly. That’s why our team here at PlasTech is committed to ensuring we provide you a quote that’s as accurate as possible and delivered promptly. 

When comparing your options to get your product components manufactured, it helps to understand what influences costs up and down, as well as why some companies have more expensive and less expensive quotes for your project. It can be easy to only consider the bottom line without comparing what is included in that fee.

Ultimately, our goal is to be as transparent about this process as possible and to provide you with the quote you need. We hope this information will enhance the quality of this collaborative quoting process. 

Materials Selection and Your Tolerances

When selecting the materials you want to consider for your quote, there are a number of factors that need to be considered.  Undergoing this consideration process prior to or while you are working through your RFQ will allow for you to provide us with the information we need to give you the most accurate quote possible. 

The principal question that must be asked is the simplest: will these material types work with your design? Beyond that, what are the specific details of the way it will be used? You may be surprised at which materials work where and, most importantly, which ones may not align with your project as well as you think. These are the types of self-diagnosing questions integral to an excellent RFQ process.

Another important element to consider during these times is issues within supply chain and lead times. Some materials may be discontinued or unavailable within the timeline you prefer. The best way to combat this problem is to give yourself options by selecting 2-3 materials and allowing for flexibility in that regard. 

Quick reference guide: 

  1. Tolerance – does your part require a high 103 tolerance, or can you utilize a 101 tolerance? 
  2. Materials – we recommend sharing 2-3 possible materials for your product so we can compare prices and lead times for all options.

RFQ Process

Producibility & Stock Program Options

Another important aspect of this process to consider is the producibility and stock program requirements of your quote. Often, prospects come to us with an already-completed design that ultimately doesn’t work for manufacturing, rendering precious resources wasted. The earlier we can be involved in this process, the more collaborative it becomes and the better aligned with your goals our quote becomes. 

There’s also the important question of mold count. Say you have 5 parts in your product… do you need 1 mold (family mold) or separate molds (single mold). All of these seemingly nuanced details can make a significant impact, so it’s important to consider them. 

There’s also the question of stock program requirements. If your program requires a resin supplier for your stocking and molding, that can drastically affect the timeline of your production. For example, TPE takes 90 days to get all of the supplies… and then another 90 days to get the product molded and out the door! With the right program, you could cut 3 months out of this process. 

Quick reference guide: 

  1. Producibility – sometimes designs won’t work for manufacturing, often because of temperature sensitivities or mold thickness. The sooner you involve us, the less rework may lay ahead. 
  2. Mold count options – we will determine whether you can include multiple parts in a single mold. Or if you have reason to believe you want/need each part to have its own mold, please let us know.
  3. Stock program – if you think your product will benefit from a resin stocking program, let us know so we can build this into the RFQ.

RFQ Process

Location & Volume

We offer a broad range of options in terms of manufacturing location that allow for flexibility with your specific priorities. We’re proud to offer both American and offshore opportunities for manufacturing. Additionally, we provide a hybrid approach as well: the most important aspects of the mold are made here in America to ensure quality while the less important ones are built overseas, drastically lowering the cost. 

Considerations about overall volume are also important. If you have larger parts with lower volume, we can start with a machining approach to reduce costs before moving back to molding. Machining is quicker; tooling for molding, however, can be trickier… 

There may be certain elements of what we’ve laid out here that you are unsure of or confused about. Our team is here to help you. We are happy to answer any questions you may have or simply start a discussion about what your goals are and how we can work together to reach them. 

Quick reference guide: 

  1. Manufacturing location – let us know if you desire a USA-made part, offshore made, or a hybrid. 
  2. Volume – let us know what your short to mid-term volume expectations are. 

The key to a great RFP process is communication and, beyond that, specificity. Be sure you’re getting quoted the right price by asking for exactly what you need from a quality partner. We hope that quality partner will be us. To start a conversation, reach out via this form.

2022 Trends in Plastic Injection Molding

Plastic injection molding is a typical manufacturing process for producing plastic components in large volumes. This technique has been around for years and has always been a fast-moving method.

As technology evolves and consumers become more specific about the features they want in their components, new trends bring unmatched benefits to the manufacturers who opt for this technique. Here are the top trends in plastic injection molding that will become even more predominant in 2022.

What is Plastic Injection Molding?

Before we jump straight to the top 2022 trends in plastic injection, let’s first understand what it is and how it has evolved over the years. Typically, the process of plastic injection molding occurs in four significant cycles:

  • Melting – Plastics are melted to make them flexible and easy to manipulate. However, it’s worth noting that different plastics present various properties, benefits, and melting points.
  • Injection – The raw material is forced into the molding press to form the desired shape.
  • Cooling – Cooling starts once the molten plastic makes contact with the interior molds. The mold cavities then harden into the shape of the component.
  • Ejection – The part is ejected after it fully solidifies.

How Has Plastic Injection Molding Evolved?

Early forms of plastics have been in existence since the 1850s, though they were hard to work with. It was until the 1870’s that more malleable forms of plastics were invented, leading to the development of plastic injection molding techniques. There has been a series of advancements since then, such as:

  • The introduction of screw injection molding machines has led to better control of injection speed, improving final product quality.
  • Over time, gas-assisted screw machines were invented, which has facilitated the creation of more robust, flexible, and more complex products. This invention also minimized various aspects, including production time, costs, and waste.
  • Computer-assisted manufacturing means more varieties of plastics that can create more complex shapes.

Plastic Injection Molding Trends for 2022

Sustainability

Sustainability has become an essential topic in the manufacturing processes, particularly in the plastic injection molding industry. This sector is quickly adapting to new sustainability policies and values. The aim is to reduce the emissions and dangerous, non-disposable waste ending up in landfills.

As a result, the 2022 plastic molding trends focus on using recyclable plastic materials to ensure sustainability. In addition, the plastic injection molding industry is considering other alternatives to minimize carbon footprint during processing.

Custom Solutions

The increased demand for flexible, cost-effective products in plastic molding has increased the demand for custom products. Moreover, most companies prioritize custom solutions because they increase their ROI.

The Use of High-Performance, Lightweight Materials

In 2022, one of the most important advancements in the injection molding processes will be focusing on high-performance, lightweight materials. This could mean less economic costs and fewer energy costs.

Automation

Another trend that will make waves in 2022 is plastic injection automation. Various automation software possibilities and tech advancements such as advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning will make the industry even more prevalent and powerful.

Bottom Line

With such technologies, plastic injection molding processes can easily be controlled and managed to ensure efficiency in production cycles. This also allows companies to correct issues like irregular fill patterns before proceeding to the production phase, saving costs and time.

Best Plastic Materials for Injection Molding

Choosing the right plastic material for injection molding can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs and product designers. However, it’s much easier after understanding each material and its composition. Here are five materials to consider:

Polypropylene

If you need a material that’s more resistant to impact and shrinkage, polypropylene is the suitable material for you. However, it has low strength, minimal flash resistance and can easily be degraded when exposed to UV light.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene is affordable and has high resistance to impact and chemicals. It’s ideal for product designers and engineers who need a safe material for food storage. Due to thermal expansion, it’s also used in bearing, toys and buckets.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

ABS is a perfect material for you if you need a plastic resin with colorfastness and luster features. It has a medium resistance to flash and warpage. Due to its opaque engineering features, ABS is commonly used in electrical and automotive industries.

Polystyrene

Polystyrene provides excellent material flow and shrinkage-resistant features. You can easily glue and customize it for toys, cups, and product casings. If you need a material with superb aesthetics, machinability, and dimensional stability, you can go for the high impact polystyrene (HIPS)

Acetal

Acetal is a thermoplastic that offers creep, chemical, and wear resistance capabilities. You can use it to manufacture products that require low friction versatility and enhanced dimensional stability. Some of the features that make Acetal a valuable alternative include:

  • Fatigue endurance
  • Impact, solvent, and chemical resistance
  • Flexible to fabricate

Industrial Applications

Each of the materials mentioned above has unique features that make it perfect for a specific industrial application. They are widely used in industries like:

  1. Pharmaceuticals
    The plastic materials are used to manufacture surgical equipment and other laboratory products. The scratch resistance and durability of plastic resins like Polyethylene make them perfect for manufacturing pharmaceutical containers and bottles.
  2. Food Packaging
    When it comes to food and beverage production, plastic resins are the most popular and cost-effective alternatives. The ease of molding makes them perfect for designing milk jugs and drink bottles.
  3. Construction
    Plastic materials are commonly used for assembling and manufacturing construction products. Plastic resins also work perfectly when manufacturing quality door and window parts like vent stops, joiners and latches.

How to Select the Best Material for Injection Molding

With the various plastic resins available in the market, you should choose a material that will offer the best properties for your industrial application. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Application – It’s essential first to determine what the plastic resin is intended for. Don’t forget to confirm whether the material can withstand the application’s environmental conditions.
  • Hardness – Different plastic resins function differently when exposed to different loads. It would be best if you evaluated whether the material is strong enough for use. You need to consider its ability to withstand abrasion and other harsh conditions.
  • Appearance – Some plastic resins change once you add new colors. To avoid these surprises, you need to check whether the material will retain its properties even after a color change.

Plastic versus Metal

When compared to metal, plastics offer incredible benefits to product designers and entrepreneurs. Some of these benefits include:

  • Durability and longevity
  • Weight reduction without compromising strength
  • Versatility
  • Resistance to impact and chemicals
  • Great aesthetic appeal

Get Top-quality Plastic Materials from plastech

If you’re looking for quality plastic materials to withstand the test of time, PlasTech Molding Solutions has your back. We have over 70 years of experience producing injection molded parts for all industrial applications. Whatever idea you have in mind, we are ready to offer the best solution. Please contact us online or call us at 508-634-7999 to request a free quote and get a solution to all your plastic needs.

Plastic Machining vs. Molding: Which Route Is Right For Your Components?

When it comes to manufacturing plastic parts for your product, many manufacturing methods are available for you to consider. The two most common ones are plastic machining and molding.

The question for you is, how do you tell which approach makes more sense for your custom plastic prototyping?

It’s important to distinguish between these two options to discover which technique is most cost-effective for your needs. In this article, we compare the differences between these two methods to reveal the criteria required for material selection, speed, volume, and design.

What is Plastic Molding?

Plastic (injection) molding involves fabricating plastic parts through the injection of molten materials, also called thermoplastics, into tools or molds. This process starts by melting plastic in a barrel and forcing it through channels to form the desired part. As soon as the part cools, it’s removed from the mold. Then the same process is repeated for the rest of the parts.

What is Plastic Machining?

Plastic machining uses computer-controlled applications to remove material layers from a solid plastic block at a time. This process generally starts with a single material block and allows for different materials with a few limitations.

Similarly, information is obtained from a similar digital file, enabling the changes of files during production. These computer files are broken down into a chain of commands and fed into a mill or lathe tool to produce the final product.

What is the Difference Between Plastic Machining and Molding?

Plastic machining and molding have various distinctive differences. So before you start manufacturing your plastic parts, consider these characteristics.

  • Material – Plastic machining usually offers a wide selection of materials for part creation. However, this process can lose accuracy on softer materials but works best for harder, high-performing materials. On the other hand, molding offers a limited choice of materials. Some materials like rubbers and other flexible substances would be impossible to machine but can easily be molded.
  • Speed – Plastic machining is the fastest method when producing low-volume parts. For example, plastic machining could be your ideal option if you need ten pieces in about two weeks. On the contrary, molding requires time to produce a large volume of plastic parts that are tolerant. This can take some weeks to a few months based on the volume of parts needed. For instance, if you need 60,000 units in five months, you may need to opt for molding.
  • Volume – The most crucial aspect of mass production is cost reduction. Plastic machining is cheaper when manufacturing only a few plastic parts. While you may get volume benefits, this can only be to a limited extent. Don’t expect the level of cost reduction to be commensurate with the increase in quantity.

On the other hand, the cost per part of molded parts is relatively cheaper. Although you may pay a higher upfront cost for these parts, the price is distributed across the pieces to determine the actual average cost.

The reason your cost can be higher upfront is due to the investment required to create the actual mold itself. Molds can range from a few thousand dollars well into the six-figure dollar range.

Ultimately, this means the higher the volume of parts you produce, the cheaper the production cost.

  • Design – Plastic machining allows for flexibility in design, while molds are sometimes impossible to accommodate changes in structure.

Bottom Line

Plastic machining and molding are both viable plastic manufacturing techniques. However, they both have distinctive characteristics and differences that you need to consider before deciding what method best suits you. Ensure you understand how each method works and the benefits you get from using either of the processes.