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Steve Melito

Steve Melito is a technical writer who raises bees and chickens when he's not digging into manufacturing and technology. He lives and works in the Berkshires.

All articles from the author

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Mold Flow Analysis in Injection Molding 

Mold flow analysis is a software-based simulation that predicts how a plastic resin will flow into and fill an injection mold. It also accounts for part cooling and process optimization. There are other ways to analyze the injection molding process, but modeling it is faster, less expensive, and more efficient than machining metal plates, building […]

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3D Printing vs Injection Molding

3D printing and injection molding are each used to produce plastic parts. However, these processes are not mutually exclusive because some projects that begin with 3D printing end with injection molding.  3D printing is typically used for early-stage prototypes, evolving designs, and part geometries that can’t be produced with other methods. Because this form of […]

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Urethane Casting vs. Injection Molding

Urethane casting vs. injection molding is a comparison between two ways to mold parts.  Urethane casting is for early-stage prototyping, low-volume production runs from 1 to 100 parts, and for bridging the gap between low-volume and high-volume production. It uses soft tooling, typically made from silicone rubber, and relatively inexpensive production molds. Part details are […]

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3D Printing Materials Overview

Fictiv offers a variety of 3D printing materials and can produce parts using Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Multi Jet Fusion (MJF), and Carbon Digital Light Synthesis (DLS)  technologies. For each of these 3D printing processes, the table below lists the available materials and colors along with their average lead […]

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Draft Angle Injection Molding

Draft angle injection molding is about applying an angle or taper to the vertical faces of injection molded parts. Draft is measured in degrees and promotes smoother part ejections, decreased tooling wear, and shorter cooling times. The benefits of proper draft include fewer defects, faster cycles, and lower costs.    Typically, designers apply draft angles of […]

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Overmolding Versus Insert Molding

Overmolding vs. insert molding is a comparison between two molding processes that have things in common but also key differences. With overmolding and insert molding, parts are bonded together seamlessly. Whether it’s to improve comfort, provide sealing, increase safety, or reduce noise and vibration, these two processes are used in a range of applications. But […]

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Compression Molding Versus Injection Molding

Compression molding vs. injection molding is a contest between two of the most popular ways to mold plastic and rubber parts. Each process has advantages and applications, but what’s the best choice for your next project? To answer that question, you’ll need to understand how each process works and where they differ. The main difference […]

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The Ultimate Guide to Compression Molding

Compression molding produces parts by placing a pre-measured amount of material into a mold, closing the tool, and applying heat and pressure. This pre-measured material is called a charge or load, and the mold is usually pre-heated so that the material flows more readily and fills the tool as it’s compressed. When molding is complete, […]

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Fictiv’s Injection Molding Sample

Fictiv’s injection molding sample lets you see and feel the most popular polishes and textures for injection molded parts. This thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) sample also contains features common to all molded parts, regardless of their material or finish. Why settle for a printed catalog when you see and feel polishes, textures, and more? SPI Finishes […]

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The Ultimate Guide to Low-Volume Injection Molding

Low-volume injection molding is a fast and efficient way to produce plastic parts in volumes from 100 to 10,000 pieces. It’s sometimes used for prototyping mature part designs that require real-world testing. Yet low-volume injection molding can also bridge the gap between pre-production prototyping and the full-scale production of hundreds of thousands of parts. Fictiv […]

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PVC Injection Molding

PVC injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), one of the world’s most commonly used plastics. PVC does not absorb moisture and has good chemical resistance. Although it’s not recommended for high-temperature applications, PVC is considered to be flame-resistant because it’s self-extinguishing.  There are two main types of PVC: […]

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Parting Line Injection Molding

Parting line injection molding isn’t a special type of plastic injection molding or liquid silicone rubber injection molding. Instead, it’s used to minimize the appearance of witness lines—unavoidable marks on the surface of a part that show where the two halves of an injection mold come together.  Parting line injection molding is about minimizing flash—excess […]

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Automotive Injection Molding: Everything You Need to Know

Automotive injection molding lets designers produce plastic parts for electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and cars, trucks, and motorcycles with internal combustion engines (ICE). Although automotive plastic molding is usually associated with high-volume production, designers can also use injection molding for rapid prototyping and lower production volumes. Moreover, some automotive plastic injection molding companies […]

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Medical Injection Molding: Are You Ready?

Medical injection molding lets designers prototype and manufacture a wide range of products for the medical, dental, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. Some products, such as catheters, are tightly regulated. Other products have fewer requirements or are subject to regulatory guidance, such as wellness items. There are also injected molded parts (e.g., gaskets) that are not […]

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HDPE Injection Molding

HDPE injection molding uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a cost-effective thermoplastic with good tensile strength and high impact resistance. This commodity plastic also has strong moisture resistance and is relatively easy to injection mold. HDPE is used in many applications, but it has a high rate of thermal expansion. Consequently, injection-molded HDPE parts are prone to […]

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Glass Filled Nylon Injection Molding

Glass filled nylon is a composite material that contains nylon and a specific percentage of glass fibers, typically 30% to 50%. Nylon injection molding produces strong and heat-resistant parts, but unfilled nylon lacks the performance properties required for more demanding applications. With the addition of glass fibers, however, nylon’s thermal and mechanical properties improve. The […]

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PPSU Injection Molding

Polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) is an injection-molded plastic that resists high temperatures and harsh chemicals. Injection-molded PPSU parts are also tough, dimensionally stable, and impact-resistant. They can withstand steam autoclaving, hot water with detergents, and other demanding conditions. Filled and reinforced grades of this material are also available. Because it’s a specialty plastic, PPSU costs more than […]

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SAN Injection Molding

Styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) is a copolymer, or polymer blend, that combines the properties of styrene and acrylonitrile. Styrene contributes to SAN’s transparency, stiffness, and excellent processability. Acrylonitrile imparts SAN’s hardness, rigidity, and resistance to heat and chemicals.  Because of its exceptional properties, injection molded SAN is considered to be a specialty plastic rather than a […]

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PBT Injection Molding

Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) has many electrical, medical, and food processing applications and comes in filled, unfilled, flame retardant, reinforced, and lubricated grades.  Brands include Celanex®, a family of branded PBT materials that provides high strength and rigidity in thin-walled parts. PBT injection molding is used to produce plastic parts with good dielectric strength and resistance […]

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LCP Injection Molding

Liquid crystal polymer (LCP) injection molding is used to produce plastic parts with high heat resistance, inherent flame resistance, and excellent dimensional stability. LCP has various electrical, medical, and consumer applications and is available in filled, unfilled, and blended grades. Brands include Vectra®, a family of LCP materials that combine high-temperature performance with chemical resistance […]

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Rapid Injection Molding: The Ultimate Guide

If plastic injection molding is fast, how is rapid injection molding different? Traditional injection molding already has short cycle times, aka the amount of time it takes to produce parts. Depending upon a part’s size and complexity, a single cycle can take just a few seconds.  That’s significantly faster than CNC machining, which can take […]

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PEI Injection Molding

PEI injection molding is used to produce plastic parts that resist high temperatures and harsh environments. Polyetherimide (PEI), a high-performance engineering thermoplastic, also provides superior dielectric strength for dependable electrical insulation. Ultem® is a well-known brand of PEI from SABIC Global Technologies and comes in nearly 100 different grades, including both filled and unfilled materials. […]

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PEEK Injection Molding

PEEK injection molding produces high-quality plastic parts from polyether ether ketone (PEEK), an engineering thermoplastic with exceptional properties that makes it suitable for applications in the medical and aerospace industries. PEEK’s excellent thermal and mechanical properties are a function of its semi-crystalline molecular structure — some PEEK molecules are highly ordered (crystalline), while others are […]

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Prototype Injection Molding: The Ultimate Guide

Is prototype injection molding an oxymoron? If you’re like most designers, you’ve learned that plastic injection molding is for high volumes of production-quality (i.e., non-prototype) parts. Maybe you’ve also heard that steel injection molds are for higher volumes, aluminum injection molds are for lower volumes, and that both types of molds are too expensive for […]

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Injection Molding Glossary

Injection molding is a multi-step process that injects molten plastic into a metal tool called a mold. The plastic material then cools into a solid and the part is ejected. This process is easy to understand, but part designers, mold makers, and injection molders all need to speak the same language. Fictiv’s Injection Molding Glossary […]

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Glass Transition Temperature (Tg) of Polymers for Plastic Injection Molding

Glass transition temperature (Tg) plays an important role in plastic injection molding because it determines when a polymer (such as a thermoplastic) changes from a rigid state to a semi-flexible state. During plastic injection molding, Tg affects processing conditions, cooling times, and post-molded properties such as a part’s thermal, mechanical, and optical characteristics.  This article […]

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How to Bring Your Product to Market Cost-Effectively

Let’s say you’ve got a great idea for a new product. You’ve turned your back-of-the-napkin sketch into a CAD file, and you’re ready to engage a manufacturer. You know you’ll need a prototype, but you’re hoping you won’t need to repeatedly revise your design. It won’t be long, you think, until it’s time to submit […]

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Five Key Factors to Consider When Performing a Supplier Evaluation

A supplier evaluation uses both quantitative and qualitative data to assess a manufacturing partner. Quantitative data is numbers-based, or measurable, while qualitative data is descriptive, or language-based instead. For example, the percentage of on-time deliveries is quantitative, but testimonials about a supplier’s ability to fill orders with short lead times is qualitative — make sense? […]

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Injection Molding 101

Injection molding is the number one choice for producing most plastic parts that we encounter on a daily basis — and for some applications, it’s also a good choice for prototyping. The advantages of injection molding are legion, but this proven process can produce a large number of highly consistent parts in a relatively short […]

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Glass-Filled Nylon: Advantages and Disadvantages

Glass-filled nylon is an engineering plastic that combines the strength and mechanical properties of glass with the versatility of nylon, a thermoplastic that’s used in 3D printing, injection molding and CNC machining. Incorporating glass fibers into the nylon matrix improves strength, stiffness, and durability; however, there are some trade-offs to consider.  In this article, we’ll […]

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The Top Five UV Resistant Plastics for Part Designers

UV-resistant plastics are specially formulated to withstand sunlight, a form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. More specifically, these polymers resist UV degradation, a problem that can change a plastic’s physical appearance and mechanical properties. Visibly, the symptoms of UV degradation include yellowing, leaching, and bleaching. Mechanically, UV-degraded plastics exhibit brittleness and stress crack formation, and also […]

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Plastic Extrusion Explained

Plastic products have gained widespread popularity because of their versatility, durability, and ease of manufacturing. Like plastic injection molding, plastic extrusion stands out as one of the most widely used processes for high-volume parts production — it’s particularly suitable for creating continuous profiles such as pipes and tubes. Industrial applications for plastic extrusion have a […]

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Engineering Design Changes: How Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) Improve Projects

Engineering projects are a complex and often evolving thing that require changes throughout a product’s lifecycle. Whether because of design improvements, shifting client requirements, or supply chain issues, engineering changes must be well-managed to ensure project success. Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) provide a systematic way to execute these changes. In this article, we’ll examine ECOs […]

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Material Options for Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing

Stereolithography (SLA), the technology used to produce them, supports the creation of plastic parts with tight tolerances, intricate geometries, and smooth surface finishes. And parts printed using SLA stand out because of their exceptional accuracy, resolution, and level of detail. One key advantage of SLA is its ability to achieve finishes that are both highly […]

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Common Plastic Materials for Injection Molding

Plastic materials for injection molding range from commonly used polymers to specialty plastics and polymer blends. There are hundreds of different plastic resins available, and they each have different end-use properties and processing requirements. Plus, there are different grades of the same plastic material, including resin types with fillers such as glass fibers or carbon […]

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Scaling Up: From 3D Printed Prototypes to Injection Mold-Ready Designs

Are you ready to scale up from 3D printing to injection molding? Then it’s time to tailor your part design for a process that uses metal tooling and has its own unique design requirements. This article begins with some injection molding basics and then explains how to optimize your part design to reduce tooling costs […]

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What to Know About Injection Molding Tooling Life

Injection molding tool life is the number of production cycles that an injection mold can complete before it needs to be replaced or repaired. A production cycle spans the closing of the mold, the injection of a “shot” of molten plastic material, cooling, the opening of the mold, and the removal of the part. Predicting […]

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Injection Molding Trends in 2023

The market for plastic injection molding continues to grow due to increased spending, faster technological progress, the development of on-demand injection molding, and shorter supply chains through reshoring. However, reduced labor availability, especially in the United States, presents a challenge for injection molders.  This article discusses the trends that are poised to shape the injection […]

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What You Need to Know About Valve Gating for Injection Molding

There’s an old saying in business that “Nothing happens until someone sells something”. We don’t know for sure who said it, but we certainly understand its truth. Similarly, nothing in injection molding gets produced until melted thermoplastic enters the mold cavity. Yes, there are plenty of steps before this crucial one, but plastic must flow […]

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Blow Molding vs. Rotational Molding: Differences and Comparisons

Blow molding and rotational molding both produce hollow plastic parts. Unlike injection molding, which can produce solid, high-strength parts with great complexity, blow molding can produce only hollow, thin-walled parts with relatively simple shapes. Rotational molding also produces hollow plastic parts, but they’re typically thicker, stronger, and more complex. There are various applications for these […]

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Injection Molding vs. Vacuum Thermoforming: What’s the Difference?

Injection molding and vacuum thermoforming are both used to produce plastic parts. Both processes apply heat to plastics, create parts from some of the same types of materials, and use molds. Injection molding and vacuum thermoforming are also similar in that they both require draft angles and can support undercuts, ribs, bosses, and textures on […]

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The Standards for Plastic Injection Molding in the Medical Industry

Plastic injection molding is used in many different applications within the medical industry. Examples include enclosures for medical equipment, the overmolding of surgical tools, and spinal implants. Designers have a choice of materials, but the selected plastic must meet the application’s requirements. For example, plastics that will be sterilized with steam need to resist high […]

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Product Study: Reducing Injection Molding Flash Through Better Part Design

The Challenge: Stopping Flash Before It Starts Flash is excess plastic that forms on the surface of injection molded parts. Some amount of flashing is expected during plastic injection molding, but an excessive amount of flash can detract from a part’s surface finish and interfere with product assembly. The causes of flash are numerous and […]

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Conformal Cooling:  The Ins and Outs of Advanced Cooling

In plastic injection molding, the cooling of the mold is critical to the quality of the part. That’s because mold cooling affects the part cooling that occurs after molten thermoplastic is injected into the tool. Traditionally, cooling is achieved with cooling lines that are cut or drilled into the mold inserts to allow water or […]

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Common Injection Molded Parts for the Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries

Injection molding is used to produce medical devices and pharmaceutical products for an increasing number of therapeutic, diagnostic, surgical, laboratory, and orthopedic applications. In part, that’s because injection molding uses plastics with excellent material properties and can produce high volumes of tight-tolerance parts in a repeatable and cost-efficient way. Yet, medical injection molding also supports […]

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Polystyrene Injection Molding

Polystyrene (PS) is a commodity thermoplastic with an amorphous structure. It has excellent resistance to gamma rays and, therefore, supports sterilization by radiation. Polystyrene plastics can be either transparent or opaque, and unmodified polystyrene is clear, rigid, brittle and moderately strong. Also, polystyrene is cost-effective and supports injection molding. Grades of polystyrene include GPPS and […]

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Injection Molding Used in Medical Devices

Injection molding for medical devices can use plastics, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), silicones, metals, or composite materials. There are many types of injection moldable plastics, but medical device designers often choose polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, or polyetheretherketone (PEEK), depending on the application. Silicone elastomers also offer a choice of materials and combine chemical stability with support for […]

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Polypropylene Injection Molding

Polypropylene is a commodity thermoplastic with a semi-crystalline structure, excellent resistance to moisture and also resists bases and some acids. In addition, polypropylene has good fatigue strength, a low coefficient of friction, and is recyclable. Polypropylene is one of the most cost-effective thermoplastics available and readily supports CNC machining and injection molding.  There are two […]

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TPR vs. TPE: Similarities and Differences

Thermoplastic rubbers (TPR) and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are copolymers, or blends of polymers, that have the properties of both thermoplastic and elastomeric materials.  Thermoplastic rubber and thermoplastic elastomer are sometimes used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand that TPEs and TPRs are not one and the same. This article discusses the similarities and differences between […]

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Polycarbonate Injection Molding

Polycarbonate injection molding is used to produce parts from polycarbonate (PC) plastic, a tough, transparent, and heat-resistant polymer with applications ranging from automotive parts and electronic components to consumer products and medical equipment. Polycarbonate is a commonly used thermoplastic that combines high durability and impact resistance with excellent mechanical properties such as high strength, stiffness, […]

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Nylon Injection Molding

Nylon is an engineering thermoplastic and commonly used injection molding material that is a polyamide (PA). It exhibits high crystallinity, an important attribute that improves a plastic’s mechanical strength and thermal performance. Nylon’s material properties support its use as a replacement for metal and make it a good choice for pump parts, fan blades, cable […]

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Polyethylene Injection Molding

Polyethylene injection molding produces parts from polyethylene (PE), the world’s most commonly used plastic material. This thermoplastic polymer has a variable crystalline structure that, in part, determines its material properties. With plastics, the degree of crystallinity has a significant effect on hardness and density. In turn, this affects attributes such as stiffness and flexibility. Applications […]

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POM Injection Molding

POM injection molding produces parts made of polyoxymethylene (POM), an engineering thermoplastic that includes both homopolymer and copolymer versions of acetal. Homopolymer acetal has a highly ordered crystalline structure for increased strength, but can be difficult to process because of its precise melt temperature. Copolymer acetal has a wider range of processing temperatures, but is […]

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TPE Injection Molding

Injection molding with thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) is a manufacturing process where TPE material is melted and injected into a mold cavity to form a specific shape. TPEs are a type of polymer that has both plastic and rubber-like properties, making them suitable for applications that require both flexibility and strength. The resulting molded part can […]

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TPU Injection Molding

TPU injection molding is used to produce parts made from thermoplastic urethane (TPU), a type of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). There are six major types of TPEs, a group of materials that combine the properties of plastic and rubber. TPUs can be based on either polyester or polyether urethane. They’re recyclable and provide excellent tear strength, […]

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ABS Injection Molding

ABS is a commonly used injection molding material with three main ingredients: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. Each of these monomers imparts specific properties and provides ABS plastic with a robust combination of features.  ABS is relatively inexpensive and supports color matching. It’s often used in consumer goods and electronic components, but isn’t the best choice […]

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The Ten Most Common Injection Molding Defects

Injection molding defects can reduce the cosmetic appeal and structural integrity of injection molded parts. The causes of these imperfections range from issues with tooling or materials to problems with processing or part design. The solution to a specific defect may require corrective action by the injection molder, the mold maker, or the part designer. […]

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Troubleshooting Injection Molding Flash

Injection molding flash, or flashing, is excess plastic that forms on the surface of injection molded parts. Although some amount of flash is considered to be a normal part of the plastic injection molding process, excessive flash can mar the surface finish of parts or interfere with part seating, mating, or assembly.  In this article, […]

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Steel vs. Aluminum for Injection Molds

Most injection molds are made of steel or aluminum. Conventional wisdom holds that steel molds are more expensive, and that aluminum is more cost-effective for lower part volumes. However, that’s not always true – at least if you choose Fictiv for your next injection molding project. There are important differences between different types of steel […]

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Low-Volume Injection Molding Use Cases

Low-volume injection molding lets you leverage the benefits of plastic injection molding without incurring the costs associated with producing high volumes of parts. This article explains what low-volume injection molding is and considers its advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also learn about the relationship between part design and low-volume plastic parts production, and examine alternatives such […]

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Wall Thickness Recommendations for Injection Molding

Injection-molded parts can be complex to manufacture. For best results, designers must understand the molding process, design for manufacturing (DFM) best practices, and the importance of material selection. One of the key factors to consider is the part’s wall thickness.  There is no single, universal minimum wall thickness and maximum wall thickness for injection molding. […]

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Color Matching for Injection Molding

Color matching for injection molding makes it possible to get plastic parts in a specific color or combination of colors. That’s important if you’re designing parts that need to look a certain way, whether it’s for aesthetic appeal, safety reasons, or to match a larger assembly. Perceptions of color are subjective, however, and the way […]

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Overmolding Part Design

Overmolding is a manufacturing process that molds a polymer over a substrate. It eliminates the need for parts assembly after molding, and allows designers to leverage the individual properties of multiple materials. Plastic overmolding is used to produce the handles on metal-bladed screwdrivers, but can also be used in products that don’t contain any metal […]

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The Ultimate Guide to Injection Molding Tolerances

Injection molding tolerances are acceptable variations in size for part features and overall dimensions. They are expressed as plus or minus (±) values in millimeters or inches and vary by the type of material that’s used and the overall size of the part.  Part designers add tolerances to CAD files to tell an injection molder […]

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Product Study: Injection Molding Sliders, Lifters, and Handloads for Undercuts

The Challenge: Undercuts and Lower Volumes Undercuts are recesses or projections on the surface of an injection molded part that prevent the part’s direct removal from the mold cavity. If the undercut is external, then a device called a slider can be used. If the undercut is internal, then a device called a lifter can […]

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Injection Molding Undercuts

Injection molding undercuts are part features that can complicate or prevent the release of injection molded parts. Examples include indentations such as side holes, vents, or slots, and protrusions such as screw threads, snaps, or latches. Often, part features like these are found in consumer electronics, automotive, and medical products. Undercuts support design complexity, but […]

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Injection Molding Sliders and Lifters vs. Handloads

Injection molding sliders and lifters are mechanisms that release a molded plastic part when an injection mold opens. Slides, or sliders, release external undercuts, recesses or projections on a part’s outer surface that prevent the part’s direct removal from the mold cavity. Lifters, on the other hand release internal undercuts, recesses or projections on the […]

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Tips to Reduce Injection Molding Costs

What’s the best way for designers to reduce injection molding costs? The first step is to identify and understand the sources of your expenses. Next, it’s critical to make cost-saving decisions as early as possible in the design process or risk getting locked into a course of action that’s difficult and expensive to change later […]

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The Importance of Cooling Lines in Injection Molding

Cooling lines, or cooling channels, support the uniform cooling of injection molds and the production of plastic parts that are free from sink marks and warping. During the injection molding process, a plastic resin is heated and then injected into a mold cavity. The plastic fills the cavity, conforms to its shape, and is cooled. […]

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SPI Guidelines for Injection Mold Surface Finish

SPI guidelines provide injection molders and product designers with a standard way to describe the surface finish of molded plastic parts. These guidelines were defined by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), a U.S.-based trade association that’s now known as the Plastics Industry Association (PIA, or PLASTICS). By providing a “common language” for surface […]

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Thermoplastics vs. Thermoset Plastics: Material Properties Overview

Thermoplastics and thermoset plastics are classes of polymers used in injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing, and urethane casting. Like elastomers, another class of polymer, thermoplastics and thermosets both consist of long, repeating chains of molecules. Under a microscope, the structure of a thermoplastic resembles a railroad track while a thermoset material looks like a […]

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Specialty Plastics and Polymer Blends for Injection Molding

Specialty plastics for injection molding have material and performance properties that meet the requirements of more demanding applications. These include engineering plastics and resins for medical, automotive, aerospace, electronics, and other applications. Polymer blends — mixtures of two or more polymers that form new materials with different properties — are also used to meet tougher […]

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Product Study: Gate Sizes and Placement in Injection Molding

The Challenge: Avoid Gate-Related Part Defects Injection molding gates are larger or smaller in order to support the direction and volume of flow into the mold cavity. If a gate is too large, molten plastic may fill the cavity unevenly and cause part defects such as weld lines and shrinkage. If a gate is too […]

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Top Five Guidelines for Selecting a Plastic Injection Molding Manufacturer

What’s the best way to choose a plastic injection molding manufacturer? What criteria do you need to consider, and how can you tell if a molder is the right partner for you? According to Plastics News, there are nearly 600 injection molders in North America alone. Researching all of them would be incredibly time-consuming, but […]

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Enclosure Design 101 for Injection Molding and 3D Printing

The power of an electronic or mechanical product usually comes from its internal components, but those products are recognizable because of their plastic enclosures. Those outer shells protect the components inside and make the entire system appealing and user-friendly. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of designing a prototype plastic enclosure for […]

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Injection Molding Gates: Pros and Cons

Injection molding gates are openings in molds that allow molten plastic to enter the cavity while controlling the direction and volume of flow. This molten plastic fills the cavity and then cools and hardens into a molded part. Gating can be large or small, but it’s usually tapered down to the orifice to avoid flow […]

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Enclosure Design for Injection Molding

As one of the fastest and most precise manufacturing methods, it’s no wonder why injection molding is often chosen for mass producing plastic enclosures. Design for injection molding is therefore an important part of the enclosure design process, and following design for manufacturing (DFM) principles is a critical element of producing a successful product. Today, […]

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How to Create the Perfect Plastic Prototype

Are you ready to create the perfect plastic prototype? You’ll probably need more than one type of prototype during the design process, which means choosing between various plastic prototyping methods and materials. Some techniques don’t support certain plastics, however, and they each offer different prototyping speeds, part tolerances, resolution, and cost. So, where do you […]

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Soft Tooling and Hard Tooling for Injection Molding

Both soft and hard tooling are used in plastic injection molding, and soft tooling is also used in urethane casting, a separate manufacturing process. For product designers, these different uses of the term “soft tooling” can be confusing. Terms like “hard” and “soft” are relative, of course, as the metal tooling used in injection molding […]

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Product Study: Part Tolerances in Injection Molding

The Challenge: Avoid Incorrect or Incomplete Tolerances Designers can specify less expensive commercial tolerances or more expensive precision tolerances on part drawings. There isn’t just one type of injection molding tolerance, however, and using the wrong tolerances can result in parts that don’t fit together correctly or that cost too much to produce. For injection […]

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Injection Molding Tolerances: 7 Questions for Designers

Injection molding tolerances are acceptable variations in size for part features and overall dimensions. They are expressed as plus or minus (±) values in millimeters or inches and vary by the type of material that’s used and the overall size of the part. Designers add tolerances to CAD files to tell an injection molder the […]

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Product Study: Undercuts in Injection Molding

The Challenge: Avoid Unnecessary Costs and Complexity Injected molded parts that have recessed features called undercuts are more difficult to eject during manufacturing. This adds costs and complexity to tooling, and undercuts that are too deep may be especially hard to remove. Yet, some product designs use undercuts for a fastening point or locating edge. […]

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Common Mistakes in Injection Molding Design

Injection molding design mistakes can cost you time and money. If there’s a problem with the design of your injection mold, you may need to modify or discard your tooling. And that means paying for and waiting for a replacement tool – which will delay the start of production accordingly. Plus, if there’s a problem […]

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Product Study: Cost-Effective Medical Injection Molds for Lower Volumes

The Challenge: Manufacturing Process Tradeoffs for Medical Product Development Plastic injection molding (IM) is ideal for high-volume manufacturing, but not all medical injection molders can provide tooling that is cost-effective for functional prototypes and low-volume production (LVP.) As a result, medical product designers may be forced to use another process during these stages of the […]

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Prototyping and Low-Volume Production for Medical Devices & Applications

Prototyping for medical devices and applications produces functional samples for testing and evaluation. These samples can be used to advance a product through regulatory gates, or approval stages, but that’s not the only reason why medical prototyping is necessary. Designers can apply what they learn and make changes, including improvements for manufacturability. When prototyping is […]

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Product Study: How Medical Companies Can Leverage Fictiv’s Broad Access to Medical Plastics

The Challenge: Materials That Meet Multiple Requirements Medical product designers need materials with more than just the right properties and price points. They may also need to consider approvals from regulatory agencies and meet traceability requirements. Although metals, ceramics, and composites are used in some medical applications, plastic injection molding provides designers with a broad […]

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Product Study: How Medical Companies Can Leverage Fictiv’s Precision Injection Molding Expertise

The Challenge: Tight-Tolerance Parts That Check All the Boxes In the medical industry, a few millimeters or microns can make the difference between an injection molded part that’s functional and a quality assurance failure. Precision injection molding can produce the tight-tolerance parts that the medical industry requires, but the tools can cost more and take […]

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Pros & Cons of Plastic Injection Molding for Medical Products

Why is plastic injection molding used to produce many medical products? It’s a proven manufacturing process that supports high-volume production with low per-part costs. Injection molding also supports design and manufacturing complexity with part-to-part integrity. Yet not all medical devices and equipment are injection molded. In fact, there are some medical products that don’t contain […]

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Injection Molding for the Medical Industry

Is it time to inject more accuracy, versatility, quality, and cost-efficiency into your medical manufacturing project? Then injection molding might be just what the doctor ordered. This proven production method can create high volumes of tight-tolerance parts from a wide variety of polymers, including medical-grade plastics that meet tough regulatory requirements and testing standards. Whether […]

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Draft and Texture in Plastic Injection Molded Parts

It’s always a good idea to go through several drafts of any design before finalizing a part. Prototyping can help you get the right design, but you’ll need a different type of draft for a successful injection molded plastics project. In injection molding, draft is the angle that you apply to the vertical walls of […]

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What You Need to Know About Injection Molding Gates

Is your injection molding project ready for success? Sure, you’ve thought about most of the injection molding manufacturing process. You’ve designed your mold with care, researched and selected the right material, and finished your CAD file or part drawing. But have you considered the type of injection molding gate to use? A gate might seem […]

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A Beginner’s Guide to Post-Processing for Plastic Injection Molding

Post-processing improves the properties of plastic injection molded parts so that they are ready for end-use. It includes corrective actions that remove surface defects and secondary processes for decorative or functional purposes. For example, post molding operations can remove excess material (known as flash) or apply part numbers. As its name suggests, post-processing always occurs […]

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Checklist: Know When You’re Ready to Go from 3D Printing to Injection Molding

It’s not always easy, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Moving from 3D printing to injection molding isn’t as simple as just using your computer-aided design (CAD) file with a different piece of equipment. Because 3D printing offers greater design freedom than injection molding, you may need to modify your CAD […]