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How to Choose a Tool and Mold Shop

Starting a plastic-based business and not sure where to start? We can help you! The first step is finding a plastic injection mold shop, or tool and mold shop, that can create the mold you'll need to produce your plastic products. The plastic business can be a pricey one to get into and that's why it's so important to pick a reputable shop who can consistently produce high quality plastic injection molds. But how do you sift through the chaff and find a company that will meet your needs? We've created a quick checklist of 10 questions you can ask when evaluating tool & mold shops.

Step one: Can you create my product?

First, you want to ensure that the company you are looking at can build the molds you need to produce your product.

Some tool & mold shops specialize in very large molds that can create parts for the aviation or green energy sectors, some will specialize in medium size molds for automotive or aquatic industries, some will specialize in small molds for toys or home goods, and some will feature a combination of the three. A quick way to establish the size of molds a company can produce is simply to ask!

1. What industries do you work with?

2. What machinery do you have available to build molds?

3. What is the maximum and minimum mold size you can create?

Another factor to consider is your own timeline and expectations for your product. For example, some companies book several months into the future while some book only weeks into the future. Some companies produce molds only out of steel and others will incorporate specialty metals.

4. How quickly can you turn out a mold?

5. What materials can you make molds out of?

The last question you should ask to narrow down your search is probably the most straight forward, but one people often forget to ask!

6. Can you create a mold for my product?

A company will go over all details of the proposed project with you to determine if they have the capacity, machinery and time to complete your product. Sometimes there can be issues with your part design. In that case, the shop may ask you to make concessions so that your part can be molded. However, if the part that needs to be changed is a critical area and unable to be changed, other methods of manufacturing may be suggested.

A company that can answer these preliminary questions satisfactorily can move onto your short list. The next set of questions will establish the quality of the plastic injection mold they intend to create.

Step 2: What can I expect in terms of quality?

Once you've established that the company you're talking to is able to create a mold out of materials that will suit your product, budget and match your expected timeline, you'll want to evaluate their methods and quality of work.

A good place to start is by asking about their certifications and work methods.

7. Are you ISO 9001:2015 certified?

8. Are your products made in-house or are they outsourced?

To be ISO certified means that a company has been audited by a third party and found to operate in compliance with ISO standards. This helps to ensure quality and safety in products and services in international trade. Knowing whether a company is producing work in house or outsourcing can also be an important factor because maintaining quality is often easiest if the same individuals are overseeing the production. Some companies do prefer to outsource to reduce overall project cost, and it is a valid method of production that is common to see. Though, you may want to know which companies they outsource to so you can check their reviews and procedures.

An easy way to check for quality however is with a prototype! This is a semi-functional version of the mold. The prototype allows a company to test the mold to see if changes need to be made prior to creating the real heavy-duty production version. Ideally, you'd want to go with a company that can provide this.

Now that you've established the quality of the molds a company can produce, you can ask the dreaded question... what if something goes wrong?

Step 3: What if things go wrong?

It's important to discuss this upfront rather than make assumption so that you are not left with a mold that doesn't work as intended or breaks down much faster than expected.

9. Do you provide preventative or routine maintenance?

10.Do you offer a warranty or guarantee for your molds?

Plastic injection molds are like cars, if you care for them and do regular maintenance they'll last a long time! Some companies offer inhouse preventative and routine maintenance, while others do not. Regardless, a mold should be brought in for maintenance at least once a year. But if a mold is being used often to produce a high volume of product, monthly maintenance may be advised!

A warranty or guarantee would ensure that if a mold breaks down faster than expected or stops functioning correctly in a short amount of time, it will be fixed free of charge. Warranties or guarantees vary from shop to shop but you'll want to go with a company that offers some sort of warranty.

Once you've gone through these 10 questions you should have a better idea of which company suits your needs best!

When it comes to plastic injection mold creation, maintenance and repair, DC Automotive Tooling Inc. is a one stop shop. We pride ourselves on being upfront and honest with our clients by explicitly stating what we can and cannot do and providing fair prices. All of our plastic injection molds are made in-house and we guarantee our products with a 1 year warranty. Be sure to consider us for any small to midsize, North American quality plastic injection molds!


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