Design for Manufacturability – Plastics

Posted July 29th, 2014 by Bailey Jones

There’s a difference between designing for a prototype and designing for high volume manufacturing. Often it will make sense to start out with a simple CAD model to prove out a design idea. This CAD model can then be 3D printed to produce a prototype. It might be a functional prototype (to show it works) or a visual model (to show that it looks right).

It is important to know that a plastic part that can be 3D printed may be very different than a plastic part that can be injection molded. To move past the functional or visual prototype we must design for manufacturability (DFM). For an injection molded part we must consider:

  • nominal wall thickness
  • ribs and rib thickness
  • draft
  • texture
  • undercuts
  • minimum feature size
  • material

A CAD model that accommodates these requirements quickly becomes more complicated than our original CAD exploration. The hard work it takes to create a great CAD model will pay off with cheaper, more beautiful parts and less expensive tooling.

Have a look at this video that shows a functional prototype CAD model, and then the more comprehensively designed CAD model for injection molding.

Design for manufacturability – plastics from Bailey on Vimeo.

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