Injection molding works by melting beads of colored polystyrene, plastic, or resin, and then injecting the material into a mold. The process is commonly used to manufacture items, including plastic cups and cutlery, outdoor furniture, bottle caps, and automobile parts. There are four main considerations when choosing an injection molding company: quality, reputation, price, and lead time. You may want to consider all four elements together, to ensure that you are choosing the vendor that best meets your needs.
Quality is important because a badly-formed piece can be not only unattractive, but unstable. Weakness in products like automotive parts, furniture, or containers for chemicals increases the risk of injury and liability. An injection molding company should produce pieces that are free from air bubbles and foreign materials. Consider asking for samples of previous projects along with the quotation so that you can compare quality across vendors.
An injection molding company should also have a good reputation with past customers, as well as within the business community. Asking for, and checking, a company's previous client references is a good way to find out if it regularly meets delivery dates, produces quality products, and provides good customer service. You can also ask for a business credit report to determine the company's credit-worthiness. A potential vendor with a habit of not paying suppliers might have deeper financial problems and may not be the right vendor for you.
Realistically, price is always a major concern. A competitive bidding process is the best way to ensure that you are paying a fair amount for your product. To get the most accurate comparison, you will need to provide identical specifications to each vendor. You should also ask who owns the molds. If you own the molds, you can switch manufacturers on your next production run without having to pay for molds again.
A product that arrives too late may not be useful, so lead time can be a critical factor when selecting a vendor. Availability of material, the existing production schedule, and testing of a custom color all contribute to the production timeline. It is best to make sure you have a written timeline that includes due dates for actions you must complete, such as approving samples. You may also want to find out how much of the lead time is comprised of waiting for raw materials, and ask if the potential vendor has a back-up supplier.
Ultimately, you will want to choose an injection molding company that will be a good partner down the line. This means selecting a company that has a great track record of production, produces quality goods, is financially stable, and offers fair pricing and on-time delivery. Spending extra time in the initial vendor selection process will save time and headaches later.