Back in the day injection moulding designs were mostly drawn out on paper by an artistic designer that could translate someone’s vision into a pictorial example. If the design needed changing, which often it did, then the artist/designer needs to return to the drawing board. This back and forth process continues until a prototype is approved for manufacturing.
Back then this not only slowed down the entire process of bringing the concept into reality, but it also increased the budget required for project completion.
Next, technology limitations were also an issue. The injection moulding machinery was not as dynamic or flexible as it is today. Even for smaller projects, new machinery would be required and sometimes plastic manufacturing companies had to turn down potentially large contracts due to the limitations in technology they had.
What Has Changed in The Plastics Engineering Industry Today?
Today applications have changed the way the design process works. Designs can be swapped and changed graphically during the course of an hour meeting. The dynamics, colour, and other aspects of the design can be modified in real time.
The only expense to the plastics engineering company is now the application. Some bigger companies will hire a graphic design expert to manage the applications, which may sound costly because it is an extra salary, but compared to paper drawn designs, the graphic artists are more productive.
Another development is mobile apps that allow people to create their design idea on their phone. This means that rather than indecisive clients coming in with several ideas in their head, some will come in already with the design they want on the app.
The apps also allow people to download their design and send them by email. For the plastic engineering businesses, this makes life easier because an estimate can be given to the person making the inquiry over email before any meetings are needed.
A company in New Zealand called Active Plastics has been long using technology to help the business become more efficient. The design apps have sped up the process from idea to toolmaking to the eventual creation of a prototype for mass manufacturing begins.
Modern Computerised Machinery
Today machinery is more flexible within the industry. Rather than running the plastics through multiple machines to create the final product, modern design in machinery means machine developers have been able to create a single machine that can be configured for a more diverse range of plastic design creations. In addition to this, havening a smaller number of plastic moulding machines takes up less floor space.
It’s similar to the concept of the mobile phone. In the past, it was large and bulky capable of only making telephone calls, but today smartphones are the norm and are pretty much mini-laptops, which is exactly why we have seen the rise in plastic moulding mobile apps.
Plastic engineering apps have now been designed that can be linked and fed through to the machines. The size, dynamics and other design aspects can be read by the machine from the app. Once the machine has the information it needs, the plastic moulding process will begin.
This particular technology means there is far less chance of prototypes or plastic in the process of being manufactured going wrong. This results in fewer mistakes, which ultimately means less waste.
There is no doubt there will be further positive developments to come in the plastics industry that will help businesses increase their efficiency resulting in raising their bottom line.