If you are beginning a new collaboration with a manufacturer (in our case with an injection moulding company) you probably intend building a long-term mutually beneficial business relationship with them. For that collaboration to work you have to approach the relationship right from the start.
Researching injection moulding companies online never tells you what you need to know. You are left guessing about the cost of production, and the delivery schedule. Your first real contact with a company will probably be in response to your RFQ. If you want to start the collaboration on a solid footing, it is vital that you provide all the essential details in that initial RFQ. The more professional you make your initial request, the more accurate and trustworthy the quotation you receive back from the company should prove to be. It is in everyone’s interest that your job goes smoothly, and that you are satisfied by the final product, and that this is the first of many successful orders you place with the company. For that to happen it is vital that there is clear communication on both sides.
What you must provide
Ensure you include all the necessary details that aren’t stored on your technical drawings with the RFQ you send. Information such as, material you want to be used, batch sizes, the desired colour of product, tolerances, finishings, quantity required, and your desired delivery date, all needs to be clearly communicated. This information should be enough to help most companies decide whether or not they would be a good fit for your project, and whether they would like to respond to the RFQ. They will be considering whether they have the right equipment for the job and whether they have sufficient factory time available to complete the job alongside existing client orders. If information in the RFQ needs to be changed later, this could lead the manufacturer into problems with either you or other customers, getting it right now is easier for everyone. It is a good idea to introduce your injection moulding company to your design department, senior engineer, or whoever will be responsible for technical changes so that they will be able to respond swiftly to any concerns they raise.
Questions to ask your injection moulding company
It is important to know your injection moulding company is in sync with your basic requirements before production and not to leave it to chance. Ask for references from previous customers, ask for prices for samples, discuss lead times for your order. You may also want to find out how long it will be before you receive the first batch, and how long future orders will take to process. It would also be valuable to know the extent of their experience is in your particular sector. Find out whether the company is ISO 9001 certified, whether they can cope with a large production run, and what their quality verification system is. What procedures do they have to catch short shots, and flash marks, for example?
Once you have the answers to these questions then you should be confident that you have found a company you can trust with your project. Talk openly with your injection moulding company about engineering issues, they are the experts in this technology and will be able to explain what can, or cannot be done. They fully understand the capabilities of their machinery and should be keen to answer your questions.
What you can expect from your injection moulder
As the buyer of custom made injection moulded parts you are guaranteed to get exactly what you ordered based on your technical files. This is exactly what injection moulding stands for, high precision plastic parts that can be manufactured in low to incredibly large volumes. Difficulties can often arise when the information you provide is either incomplete or changes during the order process. Different materials vary in their response to the injection moulding process and the mould must be built to reflect this. Do ask early and often about changes which could impact production. Not every company works in exactly the same way, so something which may appear obvious to you may not be so clear to a different organisation. Injection moulding companies in the UK are generally small and medium sized manufacturers. They are made of small teams with less structure than many bigger organisations. This can make them cheaper, and often more efficient, but communication can sometimes be less smooth. Communication is mostly via email and telephone. It is in the interests of everyone that any concerns are addressed before production begins.
Don’t rely on the company to raise concerns with you. They may believe that they understand what you want, when they are actually thinking differently on some aspect of the project. Asking the right questions now should ensure that you are not badly surprised by the product you get back from the injection moulding company at the end of the process.