Are you looking for a proven way to boost and reinforce your business while positioning your trademark in a good-looking resistant way? Probably a plastic product design is what you need. Plastic product design is a multidisciplinary professional task. It blends the understanding of your customers' needs, the enhancement of their experience regarding those needs, and the transformation of that idea into something tangible made of plastic. But what does it make plastic the best option in the market?
Let's see. According to the British Plastic Federation, plastics versatility can meet almost any requirement from designers and customers. Also, their lightweight, durability, and versatility in color, touch, and shape give tremendous marketing advantages. It also worth to mention that plastic is an accessible material to work and mold. It has a low production cost, a low density, is waterproof, an excellent electrical insulator, good thermal insulation, and resistance to corrosion and many chemical factors.
Plastic lightweight, durability, and versatility in color, touch, and shape give tremendous marketing advantages.For this reason, its application in the modern industry is the most used and still active.
If all the above weren't enough, the production of most plastic products is not energy-intensive compared to metals, glass, and paper.
So, if you’re looking for the right supplier or a new one to increase your sales through attractive original plastic designs for houseware, toys, or promotional products to position your brand and impact the market, keep reading. We’re are sure that our team at Martin’s can provide all the guidance you need.
Plastic product design also offers an excellent opportunity to position your product and even become a pop-culture reference.
Plastic product design: First considerations
Now, if this is your first approach to plastic product design, you're probably thinking about what the primary factors are to look for this service resource. To make the most appropriate decision making to your business needs, here are some useful considerations to think about and share with your designer/supplier combo:
- Why is this design necessary?
- Which need are we trying to meet?
- How will its function help our product?
- Are we going to replace other existing products?
- Are there already similar products on the market?
- Are there any patents or protected designs that could conflict with this new design?
- How will its use and usability criteria make our product attractive to the final consumer?
- Who is its potential user?
- Are there any possibilities of misuse of my product that could harm the user?
- Will it be a single-use product? How many uses will it have?
- Is it a seasonal product?
- Is it a promotional product?
- How important is the appearance of the product?
Plastic product design stages
Once you have your own answers to the questions above, the next step is knowing who you can go to to get it done in a professional, safe manner. Getting a supplier with a designer/supplier combo like us at Martin's is crucial to help you with your business goal.
To make an informed decision, first, you want to be aware of the stages involved. This can be a guide to compare the full range of services you'll run into the market and pick your best option.
Plastic design is a combination of geometry and choice of materials. These two factors interrelate with each other, and knowledge of each area is important to achieve a comprehensive design. For plastic design, there are specific rules regarding part geometry, which supports in achieving the intended embodiment.
To manufacture a new plastic product design, your supplier must have knowledge of industrial design, materials, industrialization, and product management, once its life cycle is over. Elements such as walls, ribs and holes require detailed scrutiny, for which general design guidelines and checklists provide basic principles.
Suppliers of raw materials must provide a material data sheet that includes test data on the properties of the materials. This information is focused on the standard values collected in the experiments, which are typically performed under ideal conditions under short term testing.
Datasheets should be used as screening tools and for comparative purposes only, not as a basis for the final selection of materials for part of the engineering application. The following aspects should be included in the specification for plastic materials:
- Required strength
- Specific service temperature range
- Exposure to chemicals and harsh environments
- Appearance requirements
- Dimensional tolerances
- Required agency approvals
- Processing method
- Assembly method
- Recyclability considerations
We can say it is also mandatory to be familiar with possible restrictions in the legislative framework, similar products in the market, and certifications.Also, some issues to be addressed in a part design are assembly and storage.
As for assembly, certain aspects should be considered, such as the components' relative movement to each other, requests for different materials, and the possibility for disassembly in terms of maintenance and recycling or disposal. Also, a lack of storability can cause difficulties and increase the costs of distribution.
Finally, the end of life design decision determines the overall environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. The effect on the environment can be decreased in many ways, such as reducing waste by minimizing the produced reject during manufacturing and the required packaging for the product. The strategy of disposal after the intended lifetime should be discussed with your team.
Study of materials
This stage helps to define the requirements of the final application (resistance to weather, chemical agents, high or low temperatures, mechanical properties, etc.), to look for suitable materials and to study the properties of the previous ones. The aim is for the product to have specific features or to reduce costs. Conventional polymers can be replaced with biopolymers, recycled material. As an innovative and eco-friendly company, Martin's proudly includes poliagave amongst its range of materials.
Analysis of the applicable regulations
For this stage, the product, essential requirements, corresponding legislation, and regulations of the product are studied according to its distribution market. To avoid any violation of federal laws, your team must be familiar with information and updates provided by ANIP (National Association of Plastics Industries). These notifications and standards about new Projects and Mexican Standards of the plastic industry are published at Diario Oficial de la Federación (Federal Official Gazette).
After the 3D product design, the company hired proceeds to the manufacture of prototypes. A dedicated mold is required for each component to be manufactured by injection molding. It is generally called ‘tool’ and is designed by a tool designer and fabricated by an internal or external tooling supplier. The tooling concepts must be addressed at an early stage in the design process, as the tooling costs are highly dependent on the design features and the specifications for appearance. A tool consists of two mold halves, which form a cavity that defines the shape of a final part.
Injection molding is the most common and versatile method of manufacturing all plastic processes. A wide range of formed parts with varying sizes and complex details can be created by injection molding. It is a cyclic process that consists of sequential steps, which are simply stated the following:
- Melting of plastic granules and conveying the melt to the injection unit. A predefined amount of melt is injected into the mold to produce the part.
- Injection of the plastic melt through the gate into the mold under high pressure. Design features such as wall thickness and ribs affect the filling of the mold.
- Cooling and solidifying of the plastic in the mold, while a part is also shrinking. Differential shrinkage creates visual defects.
- Ejection of the molded part by ejector pins or rings. When the part is removed, the mold closes and a new shot is injected.
For a successful result in this process, design is fundamental both aesthetically and functionally.
In this stage, all the decisions are taken from the economic, technical, and work process point of view (final design, expected manufacturing volume, estimated manufacturing cost, and production speed) to obtain the final product. At this point, it must be considered that there are companies that only design, but do not manufacture and vice versa. If you’re interested in both services and even international distribution, please visit our page.
What is the cost of plastic product design?
Now, the cost of manufacturing depends on the customer's business strategy and its economic potential. Still, as usual, the quote for the manufacture of a plastic design is multi-factorial. It depends on the product, the number of pieces to be produced, and the secondary processes (assembly, finishing, and packaging). Also, if necessary, the international distribution must be considered.
What to consider in your budget
It is safe to say that to exercise your right to free choice, it is essential to compare and quote, rewarding with your purchase whoever offers you the best price-quality ratio. The estimate of the price given by your supplier depends on several factors. Here is a list of the most critical aspects to quote your plastic product design:
By identifying the type of product, we can know at which stages of the process savings can be made based on its existence and materials. Bear in mind that with an existent study and analysis of the product, it is easier to start designing. Otherwise, this will have to be carried out to mark the key elements.
The more components needed, the more design work is required to find the best match of materials, colors, and textures.
Designing a functional industrial product is not the same as an item of design furniture where the important thing is the aesthetics and originality.
Contact of industrial suppliers
If the customer already has an industrial contractor to produce his product, only an adaptation of processes is made. On the contrary, the supplier relies on his contacts to find the best offer.
The number of pieces to be manufactured is one of the most essential factors in determining the final price. Injection molds are usually relatively expensive. A mold for a small piece can cost between 10 thousand and 20 thousand dollars, one of a much larger size can cost up to 200 thousand dollars.
The creation of mold from scratch is recommended for projects with at least $100,000 in estimated sales, since the manufacturing of the same mold may not be able to cover the costs of the project.
The manufacturing processes that will be needed to produce the piece. Do your pieces have complex internal features or strict tolerance requirements? Depending on the geometry of the design, the production choices may be minimal or require a significant design for manufacturing optimization to make them economical to manufacture.
Number of prototypes and tests to be performed
The prototyping phase is key before the production phase. Validating all the pieces will reduce future part repetition costs since error margin is more defined and controlled.
Units to be manufactured
The more pieces to be produced, the lower the unit cost per piece Most manufacturing processes have high front costs for tooling and assembly, but they manufacture products that are cost-effective on a per-part basis. In contrast, low-volume manufacturing processes have low start-up costs, but due to slower cycle times, lower automation and manual labor costs per part remain constant or decrease only marginally when volume increases.
Precision and tolerance
When the product requires high precision and very low fault tolerance, the design takes more planning, preparation and time, which translates into more resources invested. In other words, the piece will be more expensive to manufacture.
Assembly and mounting
This stage is so crucial that the manufacturing cost can increase by 40% if the assembly of the product is not considered. That's because it requires an extra expenditure on labor or automation.
It involves the cost of the packaging material plus the operator to perform such an operation. Another expense we often overlook but which can skyrocket our prices.
Value of plastic
The cost of the plastic per kilo varies, depending on its quality and type. For example,
Polypropylene -> 0.89 Euros per kilo
Polyethylene -> 0.80 Euros/kilo
Polyethylene Terephthalate Polyester -> 1.54 Euros per kilo
Polymethyl methacrylate -> 1.15 Euros per kilo
This cost would be added to the price of the mold we have mentioned.
If the project is planned in less than ten weeks, it will not be possible to produce everything from scratch. The most viable thing would be to look for pieces, designs, or molds that are already in circulation in the market, and that can work for the part. If you have more than ten weeks to produce it, you can develop it from scratch.
Time needed to design a product
A custom product needs at least ten weeks to make a simple piece.
If the differentiation of the product comes in the decoration, you can use something pre-existing. Do you want a more accurate quotation and evaluation of your project feasibility? Please, contact us to make conceptualization, design, production, storage, and distribution easier for you. We can guide you at Martin's in answering these questions and thus reduce the production cost of your project. Feel free to contact us for more information.
Manufacturing your new product
The injection molding technique offers a fast and competitive way to produce a wide range of pieces. Injection molding offers many advantages such as the ability to quickly scale up mass production, low labor costs, design flexibility, high-performance production, use of several materials simultaneously, production of tiny pieces, little scrap, possibility to include inserts and proper control of color, consistency, and finish of the product. The price also drops as more pieces are produced.
To complete the process of the previous technique, the material is placed in a heated barrel, mixed and forced into a mold cavity, where it cures and hardens to the configuration of the cavity. The molds are usually made of steel or aluminum and are precision machined to form the characteristics of the piece.
The part may need to be split to eject the finished piece or to locate inserts that are attached to the product.
How to save in the budget
We know that taking the most of the budget for new projects is not always easy. Here are a couple of suggestions for efficient budget management to anticipate events, reduce failures, and control some variations that cause more expenses.
- Eliminate undercuts
Undercuts can be used to carry out complex forms of molding, such as the overmolding process and the insert-molding process. But they complicate, and may even prevent, the ejection of the piece. An alternative could be the modification of the opening line and stripping angles to facilitate the construction of the mold. These solutions reduce the costs of the development of the mold since the use of manual inserts that increase manufacturing costs is avoided.
- Use of ribs
The thickness of the product determines the cycle time and, therefore, the profitability of the injection process. The cooling time increases with the thickness of the injected product; thus, if it is doubled, the thickness is increasing by four times the cooling time. However, a very thick thickness can generate the opposite, as voids can occur during cooling, weakening the product. To guarantee fewer cycle times is recommended to look for alternatives such as reinforcement ribs. These thin structures add support and rigidity to injection molded pieces. By placing ribs, you can retain the support and rigidity you want and eliminate problems caused by thick walls.
Eco-friendly options in plastic product design
At Martin's, we're aware of our customer's concerns about plastics and recycling options. If you're interested in an eco-friendly solution and Responsible Handling of Plastics, do not hesitate to contact us.
Without a doubt, plastic is a material that came to stay. Not only because of its low production costs but also because of its practical characteristics such as low weight, resistance to acids, and flexibility. Plastic is an incredibly versatile material with a wide range of applications because of the many shapes, textures, and strengths it can take.
This great versatility has made it possible for it to be an industry with extraordinary growth. This industry has managed to form part of the value chain of many and various products and to become a final consumer good. Also, it allows its incorporation into any production process or final product. For that reason, it is undeniable that the market for plastic products has a prominent place in the set of the economy.
The world of plastic design can be complex, but it is worth exploring. It’s not a coincidence that some success stories have been a milestone in pop culture. When Mattel’s lead designer Roger Sweet was looking for a good toy idea, he just thought about giving the Marketing department something to sell. But in late 1980, he developed He-Man/Masters of the Universe toyline with such success, it resulted in its own cartoon series. And yes, it all began with good plastic product design. If you have in mind a good toy design, we’ll be happy to help. Who knows? Maybe you’re the next one in launching a milestone plastic product.
 Desarrollo de nuevos productos plásticos (in Spanish).
 Desarrollo y diseño de producto (in Spanish).
 Cuánto cuesta diseñar y fabricar un producto (in Spanish).