Plastic Prototype Molding Processes at PRG
Plastic prototype molding refers to a spectrum of processes in which a plastic material is inserted into a mold to create a prototype part. The optimal process to produce a given part can vary, but the versatility of plastic prototype molding means that virtually any plastic material can be used, from soft rubbers to rigid plastics.
One of the most common types of molding is known as Insert Molding, and involves injecting molten plastic into a custom-built mold, inside of which is an insert. Insert Molding is routinely utilized to produce products that are simultaneously lightweight and durable, with the insert helping to create stability without adding additional parts.
A variety of other molding processes have been developed over the years. Over Molding involves injection molding one substance over another, and is commonly used to make a product—for example, a handle—easier to grip. Commonly used to create a durable but flexible mold, RTV Molding (a room temperature vulcanization process) entails pouring liquid rubber over a component in order to reproduce complex or finely detailed parts. Moreover, in this process fillers can be used to enhance both the strength and weight of certain parts. Silicone Molding, which is widely used in prototyping and small-scale production, involves pouring liquid silicone over a pattern to create a flexible mold that is likewise capable of producing highly detailed and complex parts.
A final molding process is Simulated Injection Molding, in which a liquid material is injected into a mold cavity. This highly flexible process can be completed using a broad range of materials, and may be used to produce a spectrum of designs, from simple parts such as bottle caps to more complicated mechanical components. Like other molding processes, it is also a viable and cost-effective means of producing multiple-part builds—that is, of creating the different parts that will comprise a single prototype once assembled.
How Does Simulated Injection Molding Work?
Traditional injection molding utilizes a machine that first melts small plastic pellets, and then forces the resulting liquid polymer into a reusable mold. The mold’s durability means that this process can be repeated again and again for higher-volume manufacturing. As part of our prototyping services, PRG performs simulated injection molding, which involves creating a custom handcrafted mold and injecting it with liquid polymer to form a prototype part. After the polymer has hardened, the newly formed part is removed from the mold, and any excess material (commonly referred to as “flash”) is trimmed away to yield the finished prototype part.
Benefits of Prototype Molding
The extreme versatility of prototype molding means that you can transform virtually any idea—however complex and whatever the material—into a prototype that looks and feels exactly like the production part. Moreover, prototyping with silicone molds and urethane plastics facilitates the production of a highly accurate model, allowing you to identify and rectify any design issues before moving on to the later stages of production. Prototype molding also involves substantially lower production times and costs than many other methods of crafting prototypes, which translates to a faster time to market for your product.
A respected firm specializing in product design, development, and prototyping across multiple industries, PRG Prototyping is dedicated to helping our clients move from concept to viable product in a time-efficient, cost-effective manner. If you are interested to learn more about how our prototype molding services can serve you, contact us today or follow the link to request a free quote.