In the early 2000s, automotive manufacturers unveiled the first plastic structural components for cars, which had the advantage of being more lightweight than their metal counterparts, unlocking improved fuel efficiency and cheaper production. Today, injection molding is now a dominant production method for manufacturing plastic car parts in the automotive industry.
Injection molding is an established production process in which automotive mould manufacturers inject molten plastic materials into a mold cavity. The melted plastic then cools and hardens, and the manufacturers extract the finished part. Though the mold design process is critical and challenging (a poorly designed mold can result in defects), injection molding itself is a reliable method for producing solid plastic parts with a high-quality finish.
Injection molding is ideal for producing plastic parts with relatively simple geometries and results in high surface finish quality. Manufacturers have many finish options when producing parts, including various surface textures—such as glossy, rough, or matte—which they apply directly to the automotive exterior mould rather than the molded part. However, different plastic materials also influence the final surface finish.
5. Color OptionsAt this point of the process, we’ve released our designs to our vendor and molds build has started. The time we have now could vary from 3–4 weeks to 20 weeks or more, depending on the household mould and part. During this time, there are two things we should do:
Time control. It is quite common that the container mould maker will send a bi-weekly report with detailed progress regarding the mold manufacturing. You may want to look only that the first trial, T1, is as promised, but you may also want to monitor the progress to predict delays. For that, you may need a professional who has a deep understanding of the steps of mold manufacturing.
Regroup and start preparing for T1. We have the time to look back into our plans and check if we covered all bases, if we defined all we wanted to, and if we covered operation issues such as raw materials for the testing, as well as double checking that the mold maker has the latest part drawings, etc.
I’ll explain how I see the difference between T0 and T1.
To clarify, this stage is not a chair mould process validation (installation qualification, operational qualification, performance qualification). This is the stage in which we aim to achieve a verified, stable part that will qualify our definitions. Once we get that, we may initiate mold performance validation.