Monday, February 09, 2015

The High Cost to Make Cheap Plastic

Courtesy of 123Designs, we have this infographic about the costs of making stuff out of cheap plastics.
Infographic on tooling costs
The idea that the graphic is trying to get across is that making stuff out of cheap plastic ain't cheap but the numbers on the vertical axis (either vertical axis) are way off.

This graphic is only about the tooling cost - it assumes that you already have the necessary process equipment installed and operational. So if you already own the $10,000 3-D printer, you really don't need to spend anything on tooling to print your prototype cell phone cases. But if you already own the $300,000 injection molding machine, you need to buy the mold before you can start cranking out thousands of parts per hour. But molds are going to be way more than $30,000 for steel, (try a factor of at least 3). And that assumes you get the mold designed correctly the first time. You may have to go back and remachine it, taking out a little bit more metal here and there to get the flow to fill the mold properly so that you don't end up with
  • excessive shrinkage
  • excessive warpage
  • sink marks
  • flow lines
or any of a myriad of other problems.

But the graphic does get the big picture across - options exist to make "cheap plastic" products on a variety of scales. But to cheaply make something from cheap plastics requires some deep pockets. As the old joke goes, "How do you make a small fortune in the plastics industry? Start with a large fortune!"

Previous Years

February 9, 2011 - Peanut Butter Rheology

February 9, 2011 - Gluing Feathers on a Bird

February 9, 2010 - I gotta look closer

February 9, 2007 - This is why Chemists fear HF acid

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