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The Complete Guide to Creating Your First Custom Plastic Part

Bill Hall | September 27, 2017

All you need is an idea. From there, you can change the world.

This much is true for the biggest trendsetters and game changers in any industry. Now, a lot of you probably have brilliant ideas. Some of them may have fleetingly entered your mind, but were forgotten moments later. For others, they keep a clear list of every idea they have had – but that’s basically what it is up to now – a list. Some also come up with ideas and actually thrive on the thought of turning these ideas into reality.

If the latter is you, then all you need at the moment is a clear path on how you can switch from idea-making to execution.

What is your idea all about?

Creating a product that uses custom plastic parts is less complicated than you think. Plastic injection molding is now more accessible to every idea-maker there is. All you need is a clear plan of action, and before long, you’ll have an actual physical product you can start to market.

(Click here to find out why custom plastic parts are great for your new product idea.)

The Process of Turning an Idea into an Actual Product

The product you will soon be making is right there in your head. All you need to do is take these steps in making sure it turns out just the way you want it.

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You already have a vivid image of the product you want to create. Now, turn that into something that others can also see. Make a sketch, making sure that all the important parts are detailed. If you’re not exactly the artistic type, you can have someone else draw it for you. Remember that the clearer the drawing is, the better. You can even point out the different parts that you feel are crucial to the functionality of the product.

From here, you can have an engineer create a 3D model of each part. It is at this point that you’ll be doing a lot of trial and error. You’ll have to be open to suggestions and be flexible enough to make changes anytime a part doesn’t work out.

(Click here to find out more about product designs that can wow your market!) 

Take note that it is also important here that you work with the right kind of team.

  1. You need someone well-versed in engineering. This is to make sure you have the kind of functionality you need with the type of design you want.
  2. You may want to ask someone who is knowledgeable in sales and marketing as well. They would be the ones who know what’s appealing to your specific audience. They would also be able to jumpstart the marketing process and get a feel of how receptive the market is even while the idea is being built. This allows you to improve the product further depending on the feedback.
  3. A manufacturing specialist will be the perfect cherry on top to this group. This allows you to see if the parts you need can actually be made, and how complicated the process will be.

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Plastic injection molding is the preferred method in creating custom plastic parts. It balances costs and functionality well. This leaves you with enough flexibility to give you the kind of products you imagine.

Plastic injection molding lets you use a simple open and close mold function. Injection molding is also more consistent in close tolerances and wall thickness. It fares better than another popular choice, blow molding.

(Click here to get a clearer look on how plastic injection molding works.)

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You now have an idea what kind of custom plastic parts you need. You also know how you can make them. Now, it’s time to create plastic prototypes that will show you what kind of adjustments need to be made. It is at this point that tooling comes into play.

At this point, the design team must already have an idea on what kind of materials you would need. This applies not only for your custom plastic parts, but for your mold as well. A number of tooling approaches may be applied here. Some options are soft tooling or single cavity pull-ahead tooling.

It is also here that your budget will start to play an even more crucial role. Different materials will have different costs as well. Make sure you discuss this thoroughly with your entire team. Some materials may be cheaper than the others. However, they may not be suitable for your design. You would also have to think about durability as well. Some parts may need to be softer, while some should be harder. A different kind of material will be required in each case.

The prototyping alone could take some time. This is why you have to make sure that you’re flexible enough. The moment an issue arises, take action right away. This is the best way to speed things up despite design flaws.

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You’re finalized the design. You’ve chosen the right process. You’ve agreed on the materials needed. Now, it’s time to turn that idea into an actual product.

The plastic injection molding service will now start the manufacturing process. The process is usually fast enough, but that would depend on your provider. This should actually be part of the process of choosing the right service. Do they have enough machines to accommodate your requests?

Think about how many custom plastic parts you need. Think about your timelines as well. This information will help your plastic injection molding service see if they can deliver or not.

This process also involves two important parts:

  • Building the mold
  • Running the parts through the mold

The first part is easy. Once the mold is perfected, it will be reused every time the need for parts arise.

(Click here to get more in-depth look on how parts are manufactured.)

 Remember that quality control also plays a critical role here. Just because the entire order is done doesn’t mean the deal is finished. Make sure all parts ordered were made according to the specs you provided.

You now have the product that was once a mere idea. Knowing that you’ve gone all the way to this point is a big deal. Remember that not everyone has the ability to actually execute their plans.

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The entire process may be tedious. Problems will arise as you travel from point A to B. But it’s all about the way the execution is done that lessens the hassle. Here are a few additional tips that can help you make the process more efficient:

1) Choose the right people

Have the right people in your team will make all the difference. It may be your idea. But other people may show you loopholes you may not have thought of. Usually, we become obsessed with how perfect our ideas are. This makes us miss even the smallest problems in the details. That’s what the other brains in your team is for.

Your team will also help you lessen the load. You can’t juggle it all. There’s a chance that you’re not that familiar with some of the tasks involved. With real experts in your team, the chances of failure are lessened.

(Click here to learn the hidden skill that all great teams have.)

2) Take risks

What makes your idea great is the fact that it is yours. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Remember that no one else has the kind of mind you have. This is your dream, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Some of the things you‘re thinking about may not have been done before. But don’t let this stop you.

3) Be realistic

Though you’re open to take risks, don’t overdo it. Accept it when something just isn’t possible. Your team will tell you whether anything is amiss. Trust your gut, but trust your team as well.

4) Be flexible

The more flexible you are, the faster this will be. This is why the moment you hit a wall, be ready to change anything. Don’t be stubborn. If you’ve tried everything and it still doesn’t work, be ready for adjustments right away.

Finally, plan your next steps.

Don’t be too stuck on the creation of the product that you forget what happens after. As early as now, create strategies in terms of sales and marketing. In fact, even before you begin production, you should have a few ideas in place. If it’s a new product no one has ever seen, you can create hype in the market early. Once you release the product, the welcome will be amazing!

Now, all that’s left for you to do is to get started. Good luck, and hope to see your product out on the shelves soon.

To help put this process into action, we developed this handy graphic. Click here to download the full-sized PDF.

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Topics: Getting Started

Bill Hall
Bill Hall on September 27, 2017

Bill is the Founder and President of Murray Plastics, Inc.