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Not all estimates are created equal.

Rising inflation, global instability, and disruptions in the supply chain make it more important than ever to learn all there is to know about potential partners before committing to work together on a project.

 In plastics, the availability of raw materials can extend lead times. So it becomes critical to collaborate with a partner that understands these supply chain issues and communicates about potential delays. 

Of course, not all injection molding cost estimates capture all the costs of a project. You don’t want to compare “apples to oranges.”

How do you know if the estimate accurately reflects your project requirements?

And what should you look for in an estimate?

Asking the Right Questions

Before getting an estimate from a potential partner, it’s helpful to ask several questions to determine if you want to continue the conversation.  

Let’s say you have several estimates in hand. What should you evaluate?

  • Required Volume

Does the estimate indicate whether or not the potential partner can handle fluctuations in demand starting at the prototype level and scaling up to the maximum production level anticipated?

The tooling should always be designed and optimized for your volume needs to be cost-effective. Typically, injection molds are quoted and fabricated in the standard injection mold classifications: class 101, 102, and 103. Each class varies in its standards on the physical tool construction and life expectancy set by the Plastics Industry Association. A good injection molding partner will guide OEMs through the pros and cons to determine the best tooling solution for your application.

  • Design

A good estimate — and a good partner — will provide tooling design and development services. They will either become your design team or work with your in-house staff to optimize the part design for manufacturing.  

The process matters as well. For example, does the partner indicate whether they will collaborate with you to offer recommendations and insights based on their experience and knowledge?  

An injection molder with Design for Manufacturability means the design and manufacturing teams are integrated. As a result, issues and problems are identified and addressed early in the design process.

  • In-House Tooling

Your estimate should indicate if the partner will offer in-house tooling services. Selecting an injection molding partner with in-house tooling capabilities, including using the latest EDM machine tooling technology, has many benefits offering the precise cuts and skills required to fabricate tooling for sensitive applications required of the medical, pharmaceutical, and military industries.

  • Post-Processing Operations

Estimates will include additional requirements for a project, such as kitting, assembly, packaging, heat staking, or parts decorating, to simplify the supply chain and reduce total manufacturing costs.

These secondary operations offer significant value by streamlining production schedules, improving the consistency and reliability of the final product, and minimizing the number of vendors involved in the manufacturing process.

  • Manufacturing Location

It is important to determine where the tooling will be manufactured, as some companies only broker deals between you and an overseas mold fabricator – and there are significant differences in injection molds created in the US versus overseas.

Are Prices Too Good To Be True?

It’s frustrating when estimates are comparing “apples to oranges.” For example, there is a big difference between an upfront price per part and the cost of supplying parts over the lifetime of a project. Here are a few questions to consider as you narrow down your partner selection: 

  • Does the estimate demonstrate that the partner can produce your product on time and within your budget?
  • Does it contain hidden expenses? Awarding business to the molder with the cheapest tooling and lowest price per part can end up costing more in the long run.
  • Does the estimate designate the time frame for mold design, fabrication, and providing samples for approval?
  • Does the process include the initial concept?
  • Does it include prototypes?
  • Does it include initial production?
  • Does it support high-volume manufacturing?
  • What is the classification of the mold your project requires?

Meeting Your Needs Now and in the Future

With more than 16,000 injection molders in the US alone, choosing the right partner can be challenging.  

But asking the right questions and digging into the details of an estimate will help you move forward confidently. 

A buyer’s guide is a helpful tool that can help you evaluate an estimate. From there, you’ll be able to determine if the partner is going to be able to meet your current and future project needs.

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Topics: cost of injection molding