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Plastic Injection Molding or Additive Manufacturing?

by Administrator4. January 2017 15:10

 

As a plastic injection molder, it surprised many when we entered the additive manufacturing industry with the creation of rp+m in 2012.  Why would we entertain the thought of starting a company whose industry was considered a direct threat to plastic injection molding? Simple, we believed that this technology would pair well with injection molding.

While the two technologies may be complimentary, there are still times when one will be a better choice. 

COST:

Plastic injection molding is the most popular method to make plastic parts. One reason is cost. If you need thousands of parts produced annually, plastic injection molding would be the most cost effective, even when factoring in the tooling. While a tool will cost thousands of dollars, the actual piece price for the part may run as low as a few cents (if a very small part made of a common polymer). Even small parts produced via additive manufacturing will cost tens of dollars per part – price for thousands of parts and you will quickly match the cost of plastic injection molding.

If you need a small plastic part made but only need a few of them – additive manufacturing is your better choice. When only a few parts are needed the cost for tooling in plastic injection molding is prohibitive. Additive manufacturing is the better choice for lower part quantities.

DESIGN ITERATIONS:

Sometimes you have a part design that isn’t quite there but you need to know where exactly the issues might be with the part. Additive manufacturing is your best choice. Your CAD design can be uploaded and the part made in hours. You can then have your part in-hand to review and decide what changes need to be made to the design.

TIME:

The time it takes to make your parts truly depends on the size and number of parts you need. If you need just a handful of parts, additive manufacturing is absolutely the most efficient choice to produce the parts. If thousands of parts are needed throughout the year, then plastic injection molding is your best choice when mass-producing.

QUALITY:

While there have been great strides in additive manufacturing to create high quality parts, injection molding can produce a part that typically has a better appearance to it and can be made with various surface finishes (including in-mold labeling and diamond-finishes).

 

                   

Complexity in design with 3D printing  

 

          

 Overmolding and high gloss finish with injection molding                                 

 

 

 

 

 

Even four years later we firmly believe that plastic injection molding and additive manufacturing are complementary technologies that can exist on their own or work together. If you have a part design but want to have the opportunity for design iterations before committing, you could have the part made via 3D printing and oncethe design is confirmed, then move forward to mass-production via injection molding. We are very excited to see what the next stages will be with additive manufacturing and how it will continue to work with plastic injection molding.

10 Interesting Facts about Plastic Injection Molding

by Administrator5. December 2016 13:09

 

We at Thogus find plastic injection molding fascinating and while we recognize that this might not be the case for most, we do think the facts below are pretty interesting. Enjoy! 

  • The first plastic injection molding machine was patented in the United States in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt, with help from his brother.
  • The original purpose for the injection molding machine was to make billiard balls by injection celluloid into a mold. Celluloid went on to replace ivory in billiard ball production. 
  • In 1946 the Injection Molding industry was revolutionized by American James Hendry when he updated Hyatt’s design from a plunger to a screw injection molding. To this day most plastic injection molding machines use this technique
  • In the 1970s James Hendry also designed the first gas-assisted injection molding process, allowing for more complex parts to be made.
  • Injection molding is the most popular method of plastic processing.
  • In 1980 Apple selected the material ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for personal computers.
  • There are over 80,000 different materials available for molding (including 17,000 plastics).
  • Injection molded parts can range in size as large as a car bumper or tractor hood down to a part smaller than the eraser on a pencil.
  • There are over 8,000 plastic injection molders in the United States including captive molders and contract manufacturers. 
  • Since 1949 Lego has injection molded over 400 BILLION Lego elements and currently they produce on average 35,000 Lego elements a minute. 

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Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics

An Insider's View - American Injection Molding Institute (AIM) Certificate Program

by Administrator28. March 2016 14:03

My name is William Allen. I have been around plastics injection molding my entire life. My parents actually met while working in an injection molding facility as young adults and I can remember recognizing the sounds and smells of a plastics plant as early as five years old. When I found myself on the hunt for a job in 2005 I made my way into the plastics world as well. Starting out as an operator I was able to see plastics manufacturing from many angles as I worked my way up through the ranks. My first formal training in the realm of processing came in the form of a two day class and a one month crash course from a newly hired engineer on staff at Nampac (North American Packaging) which, at the time, was located in East Cleveland Ohio. That was in 2007. At the time, I was strictly working with polypropylene making one product – buckets - in several sizes and colors on the 11 presses we had in house. It wasn’t until midway through 2008, when Nampac closed its doors, that I joined the Thogus Products family as a process technician. I immediately started to realize just how many different plastics there were, and how much processing variation could exist in a facility that ran so many custom jobs.

Over the course of the next six years I enrolled in three additional technical training programs and gained a great deal of invaluable experience. My experience expanded across many different machines, several types of robots and automation, and of course multiple types and grades of plastic. Fast forward to March 2015, I was then offered an opportunity to be among the inaugural class of the AIM Institute in Erie Pennsylvania - an opportunity I will be eternally thankful for and know I will benefit from for the balance of my career. 

Upon taking the entrance test for the AIM Institute (strictly for the sake of gauging current level of knowledge) I realized two things. First, this was not going to be a walk in the park. Second, I simply did not know nearly as much as I thought I did in the realm of injection molding. I was a fair mixture of nervous and excited. But, since I only had a week’s notice before the first of the four classes I was not able to do any research on what exactly I had signed up for; and therefore possibly less nervous than I would have been. Previously, I had read many articles both written by and written about John Beaumont, Mike Sepe and John Bozzelli and recognized them as leaders and pioneers in their respective corners of the plastics world. Little did I know that they would be among the instructors that would be teaching the AIM institute classes. I was a bit star-struck to say the least when I first entered the classroom and saw their name tags on the desks. I remember thinking “I might be out of my league here.” Turns out the mix of students in that class ranged from product design, to tooling, to processing and even quality control. The class, thankfully, is designed to work for anyone in the plastics world.

Throughout the next year I learned plastics - starting at the molecular level and working all the way through tool design, processing and even part review and design. The classes, while very challenging (even for the Thogus, degreed plastics engineer who was taking the class as well), were not the usual “take your information and go” type of classes. There was an enormous amount of support not only during the class and on the homework assigned between classes, but on any day of the week at any time. The instructors were just an email away and their responses were always prompt and informative. They want the students to succeed and their passion for the plastics industry was always evident. I admittedly had rough patches in some areas, but I was never completely lost. When I needed help it was always available.

In addition to the support from the instructors at the AIM Institute, the time allotted to me by my workplace to complete the WebEx classes and homework assignments was pivotal in my completion of the certification as well. Without Thogus’ support and encouragement throughout the program I may not have done as well or even have been able to complete and pass the classes. Their investment in me made an enormous difference in my ability to do well and directly impacted how much I was able to digest and retain the information. 

After my grade for the final test came in and I received my certificate in the “Plastics Engineering and Technology” program I had a great sense of pride. I finished the class tied for the top grade, and while the class was not very large, I felt very accomplished. More importantly, I had a measurable increase in confidence. I was able to step up at work and take on a new role with new responsibilities. I bring a new understanding of troubleshooting to every situation and find myself narrowing in on a particular problem so that I can quickly investigate solutions. I am able to look at new designs and recognize potential issues before products are launched, which can make a world of difference once the steel is cut and processing begins. The lessons and education I was afforded by this program have made a world of difference for me in my day-to-day work. Learning real world applications from experts in a professional setting and having the homework and reinforcement between classes made the information stick. It was an experience I will never forget, and the confidence to challenge the industry standards, ask questions and strive to solve problems will be a staple in my career. 

AIM Certificate

 

Why Thogus Supports Manufacturing Day

by Administrator30. October 2015 09:14

Pumpkin Decorating!

 

Families learning about rp+mAmerica is a country of makers. We build. We design. We manufacture. Cleveland is a storied manufacturing city. Our steel helped build this nation. We built cars that transformed our economy. Our port has transported goods across our nation. Thogus is proud to be part of this history and proud to be a manufacturer.  

In recent years it seems that manufacturing has lost its allure as a career-destination. Schools are doing away with shop classes and kids look at factories as dirty and dead-end. At Thogus that is simply not true and on October 2nd we held a Manufacturing Day Family Open House for our Thogus employees and their families to show them what next-generation manufacturing looks like. 
 
Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Who better to show what that looks like than our own employees and their families? With the official Manufacturing Day on Friday October 2nd, we decided to have an event showcasing what we do and why we are a career-destination!
 
The event began at 5:30 pm Friday evening. All employees and their families were invited and we had an awesome turnout of more than 100 people, and out of that we had around 40 kids! To appeal to our younger attendees we had pumpkin painting, Lego building, Play-Doh station, and coloring and crafts. What better way to emphasize manufacturing than to have the wee ones create?
 
For everyone, our inimitable Brad Krupa hosted tours of our facility to provide a first-hand view of what we do. He covered five different stations, rp+m & JALEX, tool room, Energizer, Shurtech. With his gregarious nature and humorous approach, Brad proved to be the perfect tour guide.  It's difficult be bored when he is around! 

Thogus is proud and excited to be part of this event, the Manufacturing Day. We want our future generations to know that manufacturing is an industry that is worth joining and one you can be proud to be part of! 

 

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Manufacturing

The Importance of an Internship

by Dana Foster26. March 2013 08:30

 

An internship is an invaluable experience for any college student. Before receiving that diploma, it is imperative for each student to begin his/her professional career while still in school. This parallel experience exposes students to real-life application of academic theory and teachings, acclimates prospective graduates to various professional cultures, and builds the students personal brand and professional network.

More important than academics is having the knowledge and experience to apply them. Each internship provides a student with real-life problem-solving skills in a professional atmosphere. As a double major at Cleveland State University with two years ago, I chose to participate in multiple internships in parallel with my academic career because school can only teach us so much. College teaches us the theories and fundamentals applied in our industries, but life experiences make those fundamentals a reality with complex problems and evolutionary solutions. Confucius verbalizes this concept best: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

As well as acclimating the student to the professional realm of business, interning is a chance to find one's niche in the grand scheme of one's career. A business is about more than just processes and people. Each company has a culture structured through missions and values, implemented through management, and executed through people. Thogus has a unique, family-like culture and set of processes known as “the Thogus way.” Thogus and its people have created a welcoming, energetic, high-paced environment providing a productive and pleasant work space for all. An internship gives the student a jumpstart on finding where he or she fits as an individual. After all, as human beings, we long to fit in a culture similar to who we are and how we think. The culture is the face of the company.

Lastly, every internship helps a student develop a professional network all her (or his) own. During this fast-paced and communication-driven generation, the importance of networking is at an all-time high. Every student will establish connections all over the city in which she works to build her “personal brand.” Thogus has been an amazing opportunity to learn with this team as they grow and expand and meet some fantastic people to remain in my network of professional people for years to come.

              My internship at Thogus has been an eye-opening experience. I have never worked somewhere so many people were happy with where they work. As a rapidly growing small business, Thogus is commemorated for its game-changing innovation and technology in the manufacturing industry as well as ability to maintain a positive, energetic work atmosphere. “The Thogus Experience” has been memorable for from a perspective of real-life application, great culture, and fantastic additions to my network.


Written By: Kristen DeSantis

 

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