Novus Applications Improves Injection Molding Process With Rigid 10K Resin
Injection molding is a common and versatile manufacturing process used to produce a high volume of parts. Used in manufacturing processes for home appliances, electronics, automotive, and more, many manufacturers turn to injection molding to achieve precise, repeatable parts. Mold fabrication can be expensive and time consuming—with high upfront equipment costs, machining molds can be cumbersome. However, there are alternatives to machining molds out of metal.
Novus Applications, a product development company focused on consumer goods, takes injection molding to the next level by incorporating 3D printing into the workflow to speed up the process, enabling an agile manufacturing approach. By 3D printing injection molds using Formlabs’ Rigid 10K Resin, Novus was able to achieve their desired outcomes while saving costs and time by a few days.
Novus Sees High Demand for Injection Molding
Novus has a far reach, working with some of the largest brands in the personal care, homecare, and oral care sectors. They complete designs for the manufacturer, conduct moldability studies, prototype and iterate quickly, 3D print parts and components, and produce small scale prototypes so that their customers can test their products. Novus focuses on injection molded plastics and the use of those plastic parts in consumer assemblies.
From medical companies to major brands like Colgate and Liquiglide, injection molded parts are in high demand. Novus honed their craft with years of experience.
“Injection molding is inherently demanding from a precision standpoint and an experience standpoint. So to be a good injection molder, you have to have a lot of experience in it. To walk in and mold well without much experience, there's a lot of trial by error and frustration and a lot of unknowns unless you understand what you're looking at,” said Mark Bartlett, president and founder of Novus.
How to Leverage 3D Printing in the Injection Molding Workflow
By 3D printing, Novus can eschew high-end software, saving time on labor. As a result, the process is more automated. “The production of those parts is in an unattended fashion. I don't need a highly experienced individual, although I do need a person with experience and 3D printing. So the learning curve is faster. The production is far more unattended,” Bartlett said.
Novus produces a lot of caps and closures. The company needed to produce a lot of small series of prototypes, requiring a fast method of production. Bartlett said that rapidly prototyping a cap in a 3D printed mold set helped streamline their workflow.
How Rigid 10K Resin Enabled Novus to Design Faster
There are many ways to elevate 3D printing, and selecting the perfect material is one of them. Rigid 10K’s strength, stiffness, and thermal resistance make it ideal for short-run injection molds. Novus needed to quickly produce a lot of small series of prototypes. The cured resin parts served as an injection molding platform to build simple small scale molds, which over time evolved into increasingly complex parts.
Accuracy is key in injection molding, making part quality critical. Novus selected Rigid 10K Resin because it combines great strength, stiffness, and thermal resistance. They needed a material capable of bearing the high heat and pressure of this process while rendering small features. In particular, the threaded core was a delicate part. Thanks to this set of properties, they were able to inject hundreds of parts of polypropylene and polyethylene with one mold without breakage.
Not only did Rigid 10K Resin exhibit good dimensional stability, but it was also faster and easier to print compared to milling aluminum and steel. “How does it handle the pressures and temperatures in the materials we were running? It performed excellent...it was performing at a level that we hadn't seen historically capable in the traditional [Rigid 4000] material,” Bartlett said.
Novus went though one iteration to reach the final design and was able to save on time. “I can print complex forms accurately, way faster than I'm going to machine them,” he said. Though Bartlett did not anticipate achieving completely perfect parts, Novus didn’t have to adjust molding surfaces, they only groomed the outside of the stacks. “Once we got at the mold, we ran it. And then we inspected the molded plastic parts and we were surprisingly accurate for not having done any iterations. We did one print, one run, and it worked great,” Bartlett said.