Cutting Costs With Traditional Injection Molding


Plastic injection molding is one of the most widely used manufacturing processes in the world today. Look around you and you’ll probably see dozens of injection molded parts in your wallet, kitchen, car and office. Here is a quick explanation on plastic injection molding process by MATRADE:

Injection molding is a process of injecting molten plastic into the mode made by custom moldmaker or toolmaker to produce the shape in the way it needs to be designed. This process is known as injection molding process or plastic manufacturing process.

The finished products are normally electrical & electronics parts or components, automotive parts, engineering parts and household products.

If you’re a custom moldmaker or toolmaker that owns your own molding machine, you’ll understand how plastic injection molding can be crucial yet deadly to your business.¬†So in this post, we’ll be discussing on the advantages and disadvantages of injection molding, and how can we further mitigate the disadvantages.

Advantages of Injection Molding

With injection molding, moldmakers can typically enjoy:

  • Faster Production
  • Flexibility in Material & Colour
  • Low Labour Cost
  • Design Flexibility
  • Low Waste

Injection molding is capable of producing an incredible amount of parts per hour. Depending on how many impressions (or known as part molds) are in your tool, you can be expecting 15-30 seconds for each cycle time. Once you have your tool made ready, you can simply inject the material and color of the part that you’re producing at ease.

Most importantly, these are self-gating, automated tools that run on it’s own with little to no labour.

Disadvantages of Injection Molding

There are also some huge restrictions on injection molding:

  • High Initial Tooling Cost
  • Part Design Restrictions

Not only you need to own an injecting molding machine, you will need to be equipped with the technical know-how on designing the mold which can be very expensive. You will need to have some capital to start the project and here is why it is a make or break deal: sales must be guaranteed or at least assured before you start this.

It is also crucial to understand that mold tool is made from two halves that need to pull apart, and the injected part needs to be able to be released from the tool. The process of designing plastic injection mold will require a few key elements such as:

  • Good flow design
  • Good in cooling distributions (or conformal cooling application)
  • Good in air venting

You can also view this infographic guide for better understanding.

So How Do We Achieve Cost Savings With Injection Molding?

While there has always been a debate over whether mold design or molding machine is much more important.

Mold Design in Cooling Channel

If you look at it from the perspective of time spent to correct a problem, typically if there is a faulty molding machine you can simply move the plastic mold to a more capable machine or fix it within a day or two.

However, if the problem exists within the tool it may require a significant tool redesign that could take weeks or even months depending on the complexity of the tool. Tool design inclusive to steel type and construction details is critical for getting the mold initially qualified and also vital for long term quality parts coming from the tool.

If you’re a practitioner of lean manufacturing, it is always about getting it done the right way the first time. In this case, if you’ve gotten a good functional mold design at early stage, you’re gaining a significant amount of cost savings already, due to:

  • Manufacturers normally proceed with injection molding as the deal is confirmed. This manufacturing process allows you to reap the most productivity and savings.
  • If you cut down on time spent on design iterations and prototype productions, you’re earning on machine occupancy & productivity. That means more efficient process to get more business in.

Key-takeaway:¬†It is extremely crucial to have a good functional mold designs. Don’t ever compromise on mold design. Period.

So How Do We Validate The Mold Design?

Here is a steps we used to validate mold design which greatly helped our clients:

  • Traditional Injection Molding Process
  • Part Design
  • Tool Design
  • Tool Machining
  • Molding Machine Setup
  • Sample (first article) run
  • 3D Printing & Injection Molding Process
  • Part Design
  • Tool Design
  • 3D Print Tool
  • Molding Machine Setup
  • Sample (first article) run

Yes, we merely swapped the tool making process by 3D printing it for production testing purposes. 3D printing an injection mold is best fit when:

  • Thermoplastics with reasonable molding temperatures (< 300¬†¬įC )
  • Good flowability
  • Candidates such as PE, PP, PS, ABS, TPE, PA, POM, PC-ABS or glass filled resins.

Number of Molded Parts by Resin class

The major savings that you can get from this refined process is:

  • A 50% – 90% on both time and cost savings.
  • The specification of output, spec resins or even production process can be simulated. You can do true functional evaluation.
  • Multiple design iterations won’t hurt your bottomline. You can now detect flaws in part & tool design much more earlier prior commit in mass producing.

Does this mean that I don’t need an aluminium mold anymore?

Injection Molding Sample

Not true. 3D printing injection molds are not meant to replace conventional mass manufacturing process. Alternatively, if you’re looking to do short runs without custom making tool template, 3D printed molds are best fit if:

  • Low quantities (5 – 100)
  • Mid-sized parts (<165cc[10 cu. in.])
    • 5 – 200 ton press.
  • Tolerances>0.1mm(0.004in) *tighter tolerances can be attained depending on post processing.


What we realize is that, if you’re a custom molders, OEMs or even tool and die services shops that requires:

  • Early, rapid product confirmation (design, function, standards (e.g. UL, CE)
  • Early rapid assessment of design for manufacturability.
  • And you’re in the following industries:
    • Consumer Electronics
    • Consumer Products
    • Medical Device

You’ll be able to benefit greatly simply by tweaking this process.¬†Feel free to share with us on your thoughts and how you do cost savings for injection molding.

Can 3D Printers Print Magnifying Lens?

The design of the 3D printed magnifying lens was inspired by a regular magnifying glass available today. This idea is to test out whether VeroClear material is capable of magnifying objects as well as a normal convex lens. The magnifying theory was used during the design of this lens. Once the theory has been set, the sketch was done in SolidWorks to produce a 3D object for further analysis of the theory.


Part Drawing

3D Printed Lens

We also design the second magnifying glass with different dome height (5mm) for testing. At the end the glass with 10mm dome height shown the better result by magnified object.

Based on the technical drawing, the magnifying glass has been design with the same shape with the normal convex lens but with different dimension. Its circle was design with radius 25mm with height 3mm. The dome shape designed with 10mm height at the top of the circle.


Finishing (Sanding)

The finishing process of the lens uses several types of abrasive sandpapers. The first phase of the sanding process uses the type-400 abrasive sandpaper. The purpose of this type of sandpaper is to remove the printing lines present on the surface of the lens which was produced during the printing process. Once the lines have been removed, the type-800 sandpaper is then used for the second phase. The purpose of the type of sandpaper is to straighten the sanding lines from the type-400 sandpaper and produces a smooth surface onto the object. For the final phase of the sanding process, type-1000 and type-1200 are used respectively to give a much smoother surface onto the lens. Type-1500 is optional since type-1200 is sufficient to produce the required smoothness.


Finishing (Polishing)

The final step of producing lens was by polish the part by using cloth or the buffing machine. The main purpose of polish the Veroclear part was to make that part look very transparent and have a smooth surface. After finish sanding the part by using sandpaper, apply the soft99 (polishing liquid solvent) on its surface. Wait until the soft99 dry and start buff the surface either by using clean cloth or buffer machine. Repeat this process 3 times and its produce a transparent magnifying lens.



The results were conclude that the Veroclear material can be polish and produce a transparent glass as normal glass. On these activities also we can conclude that we can produce a 3D printed magnifying lens by using Polyjet technology.

Why Aesthetic Design Is Important For Footwear

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.

Marilyn Monroe is right, but only half right, because this statement applies to all of us. When it comes to footwear, majority of us would be attracted by the¬†aesthetic design first, then followed by trial to check whether we’re feeling comfortable after wearing the shoe.

Some might have different considerations such as brand, trendiness, or even some other factors, but the trigger point to all this is always the shoe design. When was the last time you bought shoes without looking at the design?

With status, identity and images come into place, no one would want to wear something that doesn’t represent themselves. This is a typical consumer purchasing process.


Why Aesthetic Design Is Important?

Imagine this, you’re walking into a footwear retail store with your girlfriend, and she is looking for a pair of sneakers, which she doesn’t have an idea how exactly that look like, yet.

You both walk through dozens of stores, took a break at ChaTime, and continued shopping.

After a whopping 5 hours, you caught a glimpse of shimmering light from her eyes, she said “Hey that sneaker looks good!”

You were happy, grateful and excited, not before long another shocking news hit you – “It doesn’t feel too comfortable. Let’s move, there is nothing more to see here.”

This is my real life experience and I know many of us might face the same scenario. So how does this impact shoemakers?

If the shoe is not designed aesthetically enough, it won’t pique interest of people. What’s more, if it is too aesthetically designed but¬†human ergonomics is ignored, you can’t sell either.¬†


How Nike used 3D Printing To Face This Challenge.


Nike Innovation Director – Shane Kohatsu told Financial Times this:

Within six months we were able to go through 12 rounds of prototype iterations that we fully tested, and ultimately we were able to make super dramatic improvements to our products.

This is how Nike & Adidas uses 3D printing to conduct design experiments, to fully understand how to integrate between design elements, ergonomics and functionality. Take, for example, Nike Vapor Leash Talon was designed¬†to¬†help the nation’s top football athletes maintain their drive stance longer as they train for and compete in the 40-yard dash. Adidas was reported at bringing down the typical prototyping duration from four to six weeks down to two days.

The best thing about 3D printing is it allows you to print and test on demand, this speeds up the traditional design and manufacturing process by leaps and bounds.


Our Own 3D Printed Shoe.

We actually designed and printed a “leather” shoe on our own, it was printed via Polyjet¬†with a combination of rubber and rigid materials to control the shore value (a.k.a rubber hardness).

Look at the fine surface texture. It was printed in a go, no assembly, no gluing.

As of now, we’re not there yet in terms of directly 3D printing the shoe for daily use, yet. But if we’re talking about design iterations and¬†form, fit study, then yes, 3D printing is a very good fit for R&D companies.





3D Printed Optics Inspired by Disney Research


Inspired by Disney‚Äôs Research & Development team for their 3D printed optics, we’ve designed a 3D printed light pipe block to experiment on¬†light travelling across by using VeroClear¬†from Objet500 Connex3. This light pipe block uses the light travelling theory such as the deflection theory, theory of light intensity and the optics theory. Here is what we did:

#1 Developing A Technical Drawing

Upon reviewing the optical test made by Disney’s Research & Development team, we made several adjustments to our design. The block was designed to have an approximation base of 7.4cm, 7.3cm for its width and 1.9cm for its height(actual finish part). This gives us a clearer view of the light intensity and the travelling limits that light can pass thru.

Block Dimension

  • Height : 20mm
  • Base ¬† : 80 mm
  • Width : 80 mm
Ring Dimension

  • Outer ring: 2.5R
  • Inner ring: 2.45R
  • Tolerance: 0.025R

Once the favorable dimensions has been determined, curved tubes were drawn which were designed to embed within the block. We tested 8 curved tubes which were designed from one face and swept to the other rectangular face of the block, leaving a few centimeter gap from the tail of the tube, whilst the head touches the first rectangular face of the block.

3D Printed Light Pipe - Technical Drawing

The trick that allows the light travel through the ring in the block actually is the tolerance between the outer & the inner ring. When this was part printed by the Polyjet technology machine, the tolerance between that two ring will printed with full of support materials that allow light to travel.

#2 Sanding & Polishing Techniques

Upon completion of printing, we used a high speed water jet machine to remove the support material. Once it is cleaned, the block is sanded using several types of abrasive sandpapers. Once the surface of the block has been smoothed, the block is then polished using a polishing liquid. The final product would be a clear block with embedded tubes.

3D Printed Light Pipe Block - Before After

The light effects were tested using laser pointers and built-in torch smartphones. The resulted light effects were visible at the tail of the curved tubes.

3D Printed Light Pipe - Light Illumination

Noticed how the light dots are appearing at the 3rd pipe?

Key Takeaways

Results were not as perfect as what was shown on Disney’s light path block video but from this experiment, we can conclude that the Stratasys Polyjet printers are able to develop a clear object that can match the reflective capabilities of a mirror.

3D Printing Open Day

Hey guys, we’re organizing a 3D Printing Open Day (or Open “Office”) at 14th of March (Saturday) 10am- 12pm.

So what’s so special about this Open Day?

  • RMD houses industrial grade 3D printers.¬†
  • These printers weight a ton (the lightest we have was 90KG), so you don’t get to see this all the time.
  • We will be sharing some technical know-how + advanced 3D printing applications (R&D, Manufacturing line, and many more).
  • Take a look at our awesome printed samples (we promise that it looks really cool)

Spend some time on Saturday morning and join us for an inspiring session. Remember to RSVP on both platforms (Facebook & EventBrite):

RSVP: 3D Printing Open Day

EventBrite: Grab Tickets Here

The New Shape of Manufacturing Conference

Manufacturing industry is always about better efficiency and profitability. In fact, making improvement on this proven success model is tough, however it needs to be done. Instead of purely upgrading machines for better productivity, we would like to introduce you to a Process Optimization.

Jointly organised by IME, Rapid Model & MAWEA, this conference is conducted in tailored sessions for specific audience, more event details below:

C-Level Talk:9:30am – 12:30am (Morning Session)

Date : 31st of March
Venue : Connexion@Bangsar South
Technical Session A – Steel Industry : 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Technical Session B – General Manufacturing : 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Fee : F.O.C. (By Invitation Only)

Sand Casting Workshop – 3D Printing Seminar

In sand casting process, the most common approach is to produce patterns using CNC machining. But problems like incorrect shrink compensation and design flaws can occur; these generally require that the pattern be reworked which adds to the expense and lead time.

Join this workshop to learn how 3D Printing helps you in enjoying:

  • Reducing Production Lead Time by 50%
  • Average 30% – 70% lead time savings
  • Average 60% – 80% of cost savings
  • Automating pattern production
  • Greater design freedom with production flexibility
Date : 15 March 2015 (Sun)
Time : 10.00am ‚Äď 01:00pm
Venue : SFEIA Office
Fee : F.O.C. (By Invitation Only)
3D Printed Impossible Triangle

The Impossible Triangle

I suppose most of us are pretty familiar with this – impossible triangle optical illusion.

Impossible Triangle Sketch

Impossible Triangle Sketch


What about a 3D printed one?

3D Printed Impossible Triangle

3D Printed Impossible Triangle

3D Printed Impossible Triangle - Bottom View

It’s actually curved.

3D Printed Impossible Triangle - Side View

Check out the side view.

Don’t mind the triangle, we were too excited to check out the optical illusion instead of cleaning it properly (it was printed in rubber-like material from Polyjet). Do you have any optical illusion stuff to share with us?