The lead time is one of the 3 questions most frequently asked by customers to KLONA project managers. The article we tell how long production takes of a plastic product using the method of 3D printing, silicone molding and injection molding, as exemplified by the experience of our studio.
3D modeling to order: process features
The first stage of any production is 3D modeling. An industrial designer creates a 3D solid model (CAD model) in SolidWorks software. Then, with its help, we will make a prototype of the product, which will help to create a casting mold (silicone or steel).
The timing of 3D modeling depends on 2 factors:
- product complexity (modeling the facade of a building will take a couple of months, a cubic handle holder can be modeled in a few days);
- initial data (drawing, photograph, original object).
For example, if you need model a simple electronics housing based on a finished drawing, it will take 3 to 5 days. Modeling a similar body from a photo will take a little longer (1.5-2 weeks).
You can also create a 3D model of the product method 3D scanning … The scanner allows you to get a point cloud – a set of vertices in a three-dimensional coordinate system. The scanning process itself takes about a week, the time depends on the size of the scanned object. Then a 3D modeller works with this cloud, converting it into a CAD model. The transformation process is called surface reconstruction. It takes another 7 business days.
If you need industrial product design , then the terms of the project – 21 working days (about one and a half months). However, each case is individual, so we give example from our experience.
One of the recent requests to the KLONA 3D modeling studio – industrial city bus design … The task of the project is to simulate the exterior and interior vehicle. Essentially it is 2 projects in one so the timing is doubled: 21 working days on each of the types works … At the exit, we present to the customer 3 different concepts for the appearance of the interior and the facade. It is worth saying that initially we come up with more of them, and 3 is the minimum that we present to the customer, the best options.
When, if the construction products simple , we we present more options … For example, when the CLONE team was making a cubic wall enclosure for signaling, 26 concepts were included in the presentation. More about what does the 3D modeling service consist of in KLONA you can read here …
After the model is finished and approved with the customer, we move on to the next stage – production. Depending on how many finished products the customer requires, what quality products he plans to receive at the exit and how much time he has, it can be chosen one of 3 methods :
- 3D printing (piece production, from 1 to 5 items);
- silicone casting (small-scale production – from 6 to 500 items);
- injection molding (design and manufacture of molds, the ability to get from 500 pieces and more).
Next, we will describe in detail each of the methods, and the time it takes to manufacture the required number of parts.
3D printing to order: features of the method
If needed quickly make a prototype , the best thing 3D printing will do … Also, this method is chosen if the product is required in one copy. For example, a customer wants to print a souvenir figurine or a mock-up presentation. 3D printing is the fastest method as it does not require any preparatory work. It is enough to have an STL file with a product model, and you can start the 3D printing process.
3D printing speed depends on such factors :
- the size and complexity of the design;
- print quality;
- volume of material.
For example, shooting ring from a gun can be printed in a few hours … In the same time architectural layout or a mock-up of a vehicle, which consists of hundreds of small parts, will take much longer to print ( from 3 to 5 working days ).
The quality of a 3D printed product is the lowest among the 3 methods above.
The price of 3D printing in KLONA is 6 UAH. for 1 gram of PLA 3D printing.
You can order 3D printing at the KLONA studio. One of our completed projects is manufacturing PPG sensor prototype using 3D printing (Kiev) and its small-scale production. If you want to make a prototype of a product, contact the KLONA studio. We bring projects to life!
Molding of plastics into silicone molds: features and timing
Injection of plastic into silicone – a small batch production method that is suitable for small batches of products. It consists of two stages:
- production and preparation of the form;
To prepare the mold, you need a prototype of the product. If the customer does not have a finished one, we model and print it. Then we refine it, turning it into a master model (grinding, applying shagreen, etc.). Then, using the master model, we make a silicone mold. You can learn more about the mold making process read here …
Factors that affect the production time of products by molding in silicone:
- product volume ;
- circulation ;
- material from which the casting will be made;
- speed of decision making on the part of the customer (affects the speed of production of the form).
Now let’s talk about each factor in more detail.
WITH product volume everything is simple – the larger the product, the longer it takes to polymerize. A similar situation and with circulation , the larger it is, the longer the casting of the batch will take.
Selected material can slow down the casting process, since each of them has its own solidification rate. The cure rate of some polyurethanes allows casting 5-6 products per day … However, there are materials that freeze slowly … Therefore, only 1 item can be made per day.
However, the most time-consuming process – coordination of stages with the customer.
The silicone mold goes through 3 stages of approval:
- 3D prototyping;
- making a master model;
- production of a silicone mold according to the master model.
In a perfect world, we show prototype / master model / silicone mold, and customer approves everything the first time. However, sometimes it happens that after the demo you need to make edits. It also happens that the matching chain consists of many links.
For example, KLONA faced projects where the client was the general contractor … It was necessary to coordinate the stages not only with her, but also with contractor enterprises, which were part of a large project. At each of the three approval stages, the client sent approval requests down the chain. This slowed down the progress of work.
After the mold is ready, we make a test casting and demonstrate the result to the customer.
Silicone mold is a small batch production method. She wears out and the quality of the product deteriorates slightly with every new casting. Therefore, we make the first casting in one mold in order to determine its resource. So it becomes clear how many forms will be required to make the required edition of products. For example, we cast 21 items, and we see that the quality of the first 20 is satisfactory, but 21 are not. This means that the resource of the mold is 20 items. Provided that a batch of 250 pieces needs to be cast, we understand that a total of 13 molds will be required.
Silicone casting – small batch method products, which is suitable if:
- no time for long-term preparatory work ;
- not required get the product high precision ;
- required circulation does not exceed marks in 500 products.
It will take 4-6 weeks to make a plastic housing for electronics by molding in silicone (the whole process: from modeling to casting the entire run).
You can order plastic casings from KLONA. You can learn more about the projects of the industrial design studio from our portfolio …
Production of plastic products by molding in silicone
Injection molding of plastics: timing
If the customer needs large batch of products (501 and more) high precision, and it has time for additional work (design and manufacture of the mold), we recommend choosing plastic injection molding method … It makes it possible to produce the highest quality products at the fastest possible speed … Molds are single, double,. A single mold allows to produce 1 product per minute, a double mold – 2, a ten mold – 10.
The main plus of the mold is if a new batch of products will be needed , it can be quickly produced using a form. If you use the silicone molding method, you will need to re-mold the mold, spending time and money on this.
The quality of products that are poured into molds is higher than the quality of products printed on a 3D printer or molded in silicone.
The plastic injection molding method includes 2 stages:
- production of tooling;
The most time-consuming process is the design and manufacture of a mold (tooling). The following factors affect the speed:
- the complexity of the product (bottlenecks);
- workload of production.
Manufacturing is the most unpredictable factor. For example, itself shape after casting you need temper … There are a limited number of suitable tempering furnaces. The waiting time for access to the furnace for form hardening is one of the stages that cannot be influenced by the customer or the studio.
Plastic injection mold
There are also processes that are not carried out in production. To make the product molded, had a matte surface , necessary apply shagreen on the inner surface of the mold. This cannot be done in production. Therefore, you will have to transport the form to where you need to apply the coating.
Average mold design and manufacturing process and the production of a series of products takes 3 months. This is the average period for products with simple geometry (electronics cases, boxes with even corners, etc.). Making a mold for a product with an unusual geometry is more difficult. For example, the design and manufacture of the snorkeling mask mold will take longer.
If you need to make a product from plastic, and you want choose the optimal solution for production, contact KLONA. We will select a method that fits the time frame and does not affect the quality of the finished products.
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