The ETI team often gets inquiries from companies and folks that are new to manufacturing a molded elastomer/rubber or die cut product. In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the recommendations we provide to anyone looking to start their molding or die cutting project, particularly for the first time.
Communicating Your Die Cut or Molded Part Specifications
Communicating what you want from manufacturing sets the process in motion. A manufacturer follows your lead because it is your product, and it is a goal you set for them. Your plan may have to be modified, but conveying the idea keeps things centered on your requirement. During your conversation, the manufacturer can advise you based on their overview of your needs; however, you can save both time and money by coming prepared.
It is also a good idea to come equipped with some background information about the die cutting or molding process that you are interested in. Here are some resources that we have for further exploration:
- Die cutting process
- Compression molding
- Liquid injection molding
- Rubber molding
- Transfer molding
- Prototype molding
Specifications & Questions to Address About Your Die Cutting/Molding Needs
While you don’t need an answer to every question that will come up, the following are a few examples of what you can be prepared to share:
- Part shape size, thickness and weight in the form of a drawing, sketch, sample part or electronic part model
- How many parts you will need at each stage of development – this determines the process and tooling used to make the parts
- If the part is going into an assembly or if dimensions are very important to maintain, you can share those concerns
- The information usually needed includes part appearance requirements such as surface
- Appearance can also include color requirements – colors can be picked off a color chart found online (clients are able to provide color samples as well)
Among the key questions to ask yourself, however: do you like the people with whom you are working at a manufacturing company? Do you like the manufacturer’s approach to asking questions, quoting your requirements and their approach to contracts? These factors will make the part production a much more streamlined and stress-free process for you.
Key Considerations for Molding Materials
When molding a part, it is important to note that parting lines of molds leave witness lines and those areas are prone to mismatch and flash. Some molds leave gate marks or remnants, and you may want to discuss this with a molder.
Material choices are very challenging and you might need to quantify some information:
- Elasticity – this is the material’s ability to quickly restore its original dimensions after a load that has caused it to disfigure/deform is removed
- Compression set – the permanent deformation of a material that remains after removing a force that was applied to it – this term typically relates to elastomers and other soft materials.
- Tensile strength – defined as the maximum amount of stress that a material can withstand before breaking, while/after it is stretched or pulled
- Hardness – a material’s hardness is its ability to withstand localized permanent deformation, usually by indentation; the term can also be used to describe a material’s resistance to deformation due to other forces/operations, such as cutting, abrasion, penetration, and scratching
- Environmental conditions (i.e. heat, chemicals) that the parts will be exposed to
If you have a sample of the material you’re looking for, it would offer excellent insight for the manufacturer. In the case of molded parts, you may opt to build a test mold and mold different materials until you find the one that works. To quantify this kind of information on materials, you may need to talk to a material compounder or a technical manager at a material distribution company.
Making a Plan for Your Die Cutting/Molding Part Production
Here are some additional questions and aspects to consider to form a solid plan for your upcoming die cutting or molding production:
- Where is your market? Is it better to place manufacturing closer to where you will distribute?
- Do you want to have manufacturing close at hand to help with communicating and resolving quality concerns?
- Do you need prototypes to clarify your requirements? How many?
- If your goal is to test market a product, be prepared to pay for tooling and samples
- How much testing and product as marketing samples will be required to succeed
- Consider the cost of changes for tooling and material. This can get expensive.
As your product begins to sell, you will likely need different tools to keep up with increased demand. When product production ramps up, you may need a different process that gives you better throughput. You might have to consider new materials or new suppliers of material at this stage. It could be a good idea to do some of this “homework” in parallel during prototyping, if possible. Be advised that sometimes success surprises clients and all of the decisions you make early – for good or bad – will set up options and costs for later stage development.
Explore Part Molding & Die Cutting Services at Elastomer Technologies, Inc.
A manufacturer is there to provide what you want. If they cannot do so, they will tell you and give you reasons. You might be able to adjust your approach. Manufacturers are interested in your success as they profit by it as much as you do. You might not like their delivery, prices and have questions about how they control quality. But knowing what you want gives you the power to make and drive intelligent thoughtful decisions.
Elastomer Technologies, Inc. offers over 40 years of custom die cutting and molding process expertise to our customers, and an extensive portfolio of both simple and complex part productions. Whether it is an adhesive backed kiss-cut die cut part, an elaborate custom compounded molded rubber product, or clean room injection molded silicone medical device component, ETI is happy to guide you in achieving your goal.
To learn more about ETI and our work, feel free to explore the following resources on our website: