The importance of Prototype Mold

In injection moulding, having Prototype Mold validation could help optimize the final design and shorten tooling manufacture time, ensuring the best outcomes for the molded products before mass production.

What is Prototype Mold? 

Precise-manufactured prototype molds can be tested and improved upon prior to going into full-scale manufacturing. This process was created specifically to generate prototypes, short series, and samples rapidly and affordably. Many methods, such as CNC machining and 3D printing can be used for making prototype molds. Prototype mold should be considered when developing a product in order to expedite the process and lower the possibility of expensive production problems.

Benefits of Prototype Mold 

Prototype molds are crucial to the product development process as they enable faster iterations and more design flexibility in the first phases of the product’s development. This can ultimately lead to more affordable, higher-quality items.

Reduce financial risk

Molds, especially multi-cavity ones, carry one of the major costs in any injection molding project, hence, it is important to ensure the mold concept and design work before the final molds are made. Producing prototype molds will allow molders to test their mould concept before finalising the mold design and manufacture to make over a thousand pieces, making it more cost-effective and reasonable. In addition, molders can also continue using their prototype molds in the future for small production scale if required. 

Supporting proof of concept and Validation 

Generally, the manufacture of prototype molds takes a shorter time than the final molds, depending on the cavity complexity, meaning molders can accelerate their process in checking and producing molded parts. The design, material selection, melt delivery mechanism, surface finishes, plating, venting, and cooling of the pilot mold will all be identical to those of the production mold. Additionally, it will enable the engineering team to build new processes (moldings) and supply reliable data that will serve as a strong basis for decision-making and validation, two essential steps in the development of high-cavitation production molds.

Using prototype molds, molders can create components that can be put through testing to ensure they work as intended and suit a variety of real-world applications. Early detection of design defects and issues through testing can assist make necessary improvements before large-scale manufacturing starts.

Minimising the concept of risk 

Depending on the project, prototype molds could be made out of aluminium or soft metal alloy, meaning there is more flexibility for adjustments and modifications of cavities, the prototype mould is faster and cheaper to be made, and during the prototyping stage, mold manufacturers can significantly benefit from these flexibilities. 

Quickly detecting and resolving any design flaws or possible part problems allows designers and engineers to make modifications to the design prior to mass production. This might lessen the possibility of expensive design errors or flaws that might not be found until the product has started to be produced.

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Limitations of Prototype Mold

Cost and time

Even though prototype molds could help moulders in ensuring their mold design and concept work, it still adds extra cost and time to their injection molding project. The more cavities there are, the more expensive and the longer the time will take to produce the prototype molds. Prototype molds might not be affordable for small projects or projects with limited time and financial budget. 

In addition, prototype molds can only yield a certain number of completed goods before they fully degrade or require replacement. This could be a disadvantage in some circumstances, such when more pieces are needed for testing or assessment.

Limited quality molded parts

Prototype molds might not produce components with the same level of accuracy or quality as production molds. This could be the result of using materials with different specifications or the molds themselves not having been as precisely calibrated as production molds. Prototype molds are more economical to produce smaller quantities of parts than production molds; but, when larger quantities of parts are needed, the cost per component for prototype molds could be higher. This is a result of the need for more manpower and the fact that the prototype mold needs to be fixed or replaced more frequently than a production mold does. 

For prototype mold validation of certain projects, it is more beneficial for the molders to go for more advanced tooling techniques in making prototype mold, as prototype molds produced by quick, lower-cost techniques like 3D printing may not be able to generate products of the highest quality and specification. 

Shorter lifespan 

As they are composed of less robust materials or because their fine tuning is not as exact as that of production molds, prototype molds may have a shorter lifespan than production molds. This could mean that frequent maintenance or replacements are required, which could affect the cost and production schedule. 

micro molding high tech

With more than 20 years of experience in ultra-precision mold design and mould making, Micro Systems has extensive capabilities in designing, manufacturing and validation prototype molds, from single to multi cavities. We have on-site our own testing area, along with full-scale injection molding facilities at Optimold, such that customers can confidently test and validate their prototype molds.

Contact us today to discuss your prototype mold requirements!