Every time the phone rings I get excited. I never know exactly what to expect on the other end of the line. As a project Engineer I receive a lot of calls from prospective customers trying to understand how to get a quote to injection mold plastic parts. Prospective customers come from many different backgrounds. Some are seasoned veterans in the world of injection molding while others are still learning that there is more than one type of plastic.
Regardless of the individuals background the goal is always the same, get them an accurate estimate of the manufacturing cost based on the information they provide as quickly as possible. The key to providing a fast and accurate quote is the "information they provide". Typically we will ask for basic information such as the part files, material type, estimated EAU, physical requirements, and unique specifications for the product. However, a good quote begins with a thorough understanding of the application of the part. How will the part be used? How long do you need the part to last? What environment will the part be exposed to? Will the part be exposed to chemicals that may attack a plastic part. Will the part be used in sunlight with U.V. exposure? What are the mechanical requirements of the part? Does the part need to bear weight, withstand impact or be flexible in its application? How many parts are you going to use in a month, quarter or year? What are the dimensional tolerances for the parts? Expected production quantities and dimensional tolerances will drive number of cavities and specifications on tooling design that significantly impact tool cost, tool life, and unit price. Do you expect the design to change? If so, you may want to plan for this in the tooling to save tooling cost for changes or new tools in the future. Finally, don’t forget packaging. Packaging is important in protecting the parts and can add significant cost to manufacturing. These questions represent some of the initial information necessary to understand the application. A thorough understanding of the part allows the Project Engineer to not only give an accurate quote, but also allows the Project Engineer to apply their design, material, and processing knowledge to contribute valuable experience to the project possibly making the part perform better or reduce cost.
One scenario I often encounter occurs when prospective customer has an invention and would like to find out the cost to have it made. It is not unusual to find that part models or drawings do not exist and the prospect is only willing to give a rough description of the part out of fear that someone will steal their idea. Without drawings or information about the parts use and application we can not provide an accurate tooling quote or even suggest materials. It is important to know that it may take several hours of work to prepare an accurate and well engineered quote for a new part particularly if tooling is involved. An accurate quote for a custom part requires a coordinated effort with many outside vendors and suppliers. This effort takes time and requires resources from all involved. This is a fact that is often not understood or appreciated when a request is made for pricing. Unfortunately we are unable to help these individuals and request they contact us when they feel comfortable disclosing more details about there project.
A second scenario we encounter is when a prospective customer is able to provide us a description of the part and an understanding of the application along with a 2D print. In this scenario we can help suggest materials and discuss tooling options. While discussing the parts use we are often able to recognize requirements the customer may not be aware of. If we have a 2D part print and the general material type we can estimate the part weight and tooling with enough confidence to provide a solid budgetary quote. The final pricing would be dependent on the customer’s final part design and material selection.
In most circumstances prospective customers provide a 3D solid model and the exact grade of material. In this circumstance we can provide a very accurate quote quickly. A 3D solid model allows us to accurately predict the labor in building a tool. By using the mass properties of the part model and the density properties of the material we can calculate the part weight. The only variable we have at this point is the cycle time which can be estimated fairly accurately depending on the part design.
In summary, there are many aspects of requesting pricing on a plastic part that will help the processor provide an accurate and timely tooling and piece part quotation.
• Application - Be prepared to thoroughly describe the part including where and how it is used.
• Design – Having a 3D solid model produced in a software like Solidworks or ProEngineering will help expedite the process and provide more accurate pricing.
• Volume - Be able to provide information regarding the annual volume and the expected number of years parts that will be required.
• Materials – Do your research and come with a specified material or prepared to discuss material requirements.
• Tolerances – Dimensional tolerances can significantly impact unit price
• Packaging – Packaging is often not considered and can impact the unit cost.
The more information provided for a quote allows your processor to provide a more accurate and timely estimate.
For more information on Blackwell Plastics and how we can help you bring your product to life contact us at www.blackwellplastics.com
By Jason Mann