When it's time to purchase prototype tooling for injection molded parts, comparing quotes is a tedious part of the process. There are a variety of factors that can determine the cost of a prototyping project so it's wise to consider why one company's price is higher than another's. Without the proper knowledge, you could be comparing apples to oranges. Whether you're in the purchasing department or an engineer, here are a few things to look at when comparing quotes so that you get the best parts for your money.
What type of tooling do you need?
When choosing an injection molder, find out what type of metal is being used to construct the mold. The core metal will determine the lifespan of the mold. If your mold isn't built to withstand your part's requirements or volumes, you may be hit with unexpected expenses later to replace it.
Injection molds are typically made out of aluminum or different qualities of steel. Aluminum is cheaper than steel because it is lighter, softer, and can be machined more rapidly. But it does have its limitations. If all you need are small quantities of a quick, simple part, an aluminum mold may suffice. However, if your part is more complex, uses abrasive material or needs to mimic a production part for testing purposes, a steel mold will last longer - saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. At the ERC, another benefit is the ability to use your prototype tool for low volume production.
When reviewing quotes from injection molders, it's important to make sure they're quoting the exact material you asked for. To cut costs, some companies may use a like material when an exact material is intended to be used in the field. When a prototype is developed with a like-material, the outcome is a like-part. The part may warp differently, flex differently, snap differently and so on. This is an especially critical factor when testing the function of an assembly. In the testing process, correct material selection is just as important as hitting your critical dimensions.
At the ERC, we have great relationships with material suppliers, allowing us to offer your exact material choice. Our engineers sample highly engineered materials in a quick and ecomonic fashion in order to recommend multiple materials that best fit your part requirements and budget.
How complex is your part?
A complex part will cost more to manufacture than a simple part. While it may be tempting to go with the cheapest option, consider choosing a company with knowledgeable engineers rather than basing your decision solely on price. Cutting corners on a complex prototype will leave you susceptible to risks such as warped parts, incorrect material selection, size variations, and cracking. Any of these faults can make it impossible to test your part correctly, requiring you to spend more time and money on a second or third prototype. Save yourself the time, money and stress by choosing a prototype provider that gets it right the first time.
How much engineering support do you require?
Your prototype design partner should look at your prototype part from a robust tooling perspective and work with you to make your part a tooling-friendly design. Developing a relationship with a prototyping company will equate to better engineering support during the build process and in "emergency" situations, such as when a part fails and you need a solution fast. When you prototype with the ERC, our engineers will spend time helping you come up with an effective solution for your part design.
How important is peace of mind?
In some cases, quality plastic prototypes may have a greater upfront cost, but will level out in the long run when quality, functionality and the absence of compromises is taken into consideration. Even with a slightly greater time and financial commitment up front, critical design efficiencies will allow for a quicker time to market. Plus, when you purchase a steel prototype mold crafted by highly skilled toolmakers and expert engineers, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you'll receive your exact design, on time and within budget.
We know we're not always the lowest quote, but we take pride in being the highest quality. We've been able to help out many customers who went with a cheap prototyping service the first time. So next time you need a plastic prototype, use our Rapid Quote form and keep these considerations in mind!