The emergence of 3D printing has certainly revolutionized and breathed new life into the world of plastic manufacturing, but despite the hype, this does not mean the end of more traditional plastic injection molding in Dallas or elsewhere. In fact, these two technologies are more complementary than competitive. Both can be used for manufacturing and rapid prototype generation, but each has certain areas in which they are the most cost-effective option.
Many people may switch between the two technologies depending on their current needs. To understand why this is, it’s important to begin by understanding the differences between the two technologies:
Process Differences Between Plastic Injection Molding and 3D Printing
While both plastic injection molding and 3D printing are designed to produce parts and components from plastics, how each does it differs. Plastic injection molding involves melting a molten plastic material and injecting that liquid into a pre-designed metal cavity matching a desired part’s skeleton. Think of it like pouring batter into a cookie cutter shape. Only instead of heating the batter up, injection molding tools rapidly cool the melted plastic to form the desired solid shape.
In contrast, 3D printing doesn’t pour plastic into a mold. Instead, it adds plastic (sometimes molten, sometimes not, depending upon the type of 3D printing used) one drop at a time on an integrated mat. It creates products layer by layer according to an inputted computer design file. Essentially, printing out the product.
Choosing the Process Right for your Project
When deciding between 3D printing or plastic injection molding in Dallas, the primary factors to consider are how many items you need, how detailed they have to be, and how fast you need them.
Low volume or Prototyping? 3D Printing. If you need just 1-10 pieces, such as for prototypes, then 3D printing is the most cost-effective solution. Here, you won’t have to pay for the more expensive mold tools but still get what you need for consumer research and quality control testing.
3D printing is also an extremely fast and convenient option for low volumes of production, as an integrated system can take a CAD design to the FDM machine within moments. This is an effective solution to validate part design within an assembly or for pure functionality purposes. You will lose accuracy and repeatability in the process.
Mid to high volume? Injection Molding. When you’re ready to start manufacturing in mid to high volumes, say 100+ quantities, you’ll want to switch over to plastic injection molding. This process is built for scaling up and mass producing. Once your mold has been built, you can mold high volume at much lower costs per unit than 3D printing, and return to that mold as needed.
Because of this, this is also the much faster process when there are 50+ parts to produce.
High detail and accurate Products? Injection Molding. Injection molded parts are less prone to delamination thanks to their creation as a single, homogenous cured material. They are a more effective solution for tight tolerances and repeatability for higher volumes.
Choosing the Right Plastic Injection Molding Company in Dallas
When looking to mass produce parts for your business, contact QT at 972-221-0537. They are the leaders of plastic injection molding in Dallas and will work with you to craft the perfect mold for your businesses needs.