However, if you’re getting new tooling made for a new product, there is a risk of defective parts being made. There are always more risks with anything new in manufacturing.
What can you do, to address this risk?
Improving your control and visibility over the tooling fabrication project and initial production
Trusting in the toolmaker and the molding factory to get everything right, even if they tell you that they’re running short trials and adjusting the tooling as needed to assure that production pieces reach your expectations, is not enough if you cannot tolerate delays or quality issues.
In order to have a good level of visibility over the tooling fabrication and production project, you need to understand the processes and QC measures in place, either by being on the ground in China yourself or sending in an experienced third party to check for you locally.
What needs to be done?
These phases will need your attention:
- Tool build
- Steel parts quality check
- First trial
- First production run
Here are some suggestions of what you need to do during each phase and how, if you’re not able to get to China, we can help in these situations (including costs):
1. Tool build
- Get a DFM review on the parts’ geometry from your tooling designs to reduce risks of quality issues later on.
Sofeast charges 45 USD per hour for this, and we can give you an estimate once we see the drawings.
- Send an engineer on-site to the toolmaker when they are making the mold. They will oversee the toolmaker’s production and help to assure that the tooling is correct before it is used for production.
2 & 3. Steel parts quality check & first trial
- Send someone on-site when the toolmaker does the first trial and check the first parts off the tooling (structure, dimensions, defects… and also any issues with the sliders or other parts of the mold).
Sofeast can send an inspector to perform a first article inspection on the first parts off the tooling in order to assess if the tooling is working as expected (this is 299 USD in major areas of China). The FAI might be better used when molds aren’t too expensive.
- There will be a need to perform further trials on the tooling if severe issues are found.
- If you need to validate that the tooling will allow for production that is on quality and on time, a more in-depth validation process can be enforced.
Sofeast can supervise the toolmaker’s tooling capacity validation process by sending an experienced engineer there to oversee it where they will check the mold based on our standard checklist, record the setup parameters (time, pressure, temperature…) and how many shots are necessary before the parts off the mold are good, effective cycle time, and more (this is 400 USD per man-day and provides the most assurance that you will receive excellent tooling).
This is a better option for particularly expensive molds, or when issues during injection molding would be very expensive.
4. First production run
- Depending on the risks you perceive, it can make sense to perform product inspections at different times during production by your supplier once they have tooling installed.
If the risk is relatively low, Sofeast could go to their factory and inspect parts when about 10% of the quantity is completed. If the risk is higher, we could go even earlier at the very start of production and perform a first article inspection. 1 day of work is 299 USD.
- If there is a risk the factory might set the wrong parameters, our engineer can go in and do a process management audit to assess their product and process control plans on the shop floor. This will ensure that they have the ability to set the correct parameters and get the best results from the tooling, thereby maximizing your injection-molded parts’ quality. If the supplier is experienced and trusted, you may choose to skip this.
The main risks when managing tooling for plastic injection molded parts
We prepared a large table that shows the main risks and what we can do to reduce those risks in this blog post: Tooling Management for Plastic Injection Molds in China, in case you are wondering what the major risks are.
Explore how to manage the whole process of fabricating and using new tooling
Typically, the tooling (mold) needs to be designed, fabricated, tested, and moved and stored correctly. But how do you manage all of these efficiently and reduce the risks of things going wrong?
Start by listening to our podcast episode on the topic! 😉 👇