Molded rubber parts are used for a wide range of applications across many different industries.
The design manufacturing process allows customers to specify the exact dimensions and materials that will be used to create their rubber parts. Unique molds are then tooled to facilitate these specifications.
After material selection, tooling needs can determine the total cost of manufacturing rubber components. There are some simple things that you can do to help improve product quality and reduce tooling costs in the future.
1. Identify Acceptable Tolerances
Tolerances come into play during the manufacturing of any rubber component. A tolerance is the amount of variation from the design specifications that is allowable during manufacturing.
Many customers make the mistake of failing to evaluate their acceptable tolerances before investing in the creation of custom rubber molds. A mold that features a high level of precision and tight tolerances will require a lot more tooling than a mold with commercial or basic tolerances.
If you don't need your rubber components to fall within a very limited set of parameters, you can reduce your tooling costs by switching to a mold with more flexible tolerances.
2. Evaluate Part Appearance
The appearance of a rubber component after it comes out of the mold can influence tooling costs. Any rubber part with a superior cosmetic appearance will be more expensive to manufacture. This is due to the fact that additional processes are needed to achieve a certain aesthetic.
If the appearance of your rubber components doesn't factor into the function of each part, consider the elimination of add-on processes like bead blasting, texturing, and mold polishing.
Keeping the appearance of your manufactured rubber components as basic as possible will help you keep your tooling costs as low as possible.
3. Consider the Handling of Flash
Flash, which is defined as excess rubber along the parting line of any mold, is something that must be considered carefully when you are trying to minimize your production costs. Almost all rubber manufacturing processes will result in the production of flash.
The way that you handle this flash can help determine your tooling costs. Instead of utilizing flash-free molds to eliminate excess rubber, consider hand-trimming or cryogenic deflashing instead.
Flash-free molds require a significant amount of tooling and are very expensive to produce. Having someone hand-trim flash from your rubber parts can be more cost-effective over time. Cryogenic deflashing allows for the removal of flash from many rubber components simultaneously.
Work with your manufacturer to determine how the handling of flash is impacting your tooling costs, then make any changes needed to reduce tooling costs by handling flash more efficiently.
4. Think About Using Family Molds
Family molds can be a very effective tool when it comes to reducing manufacturing costs for your rubber components. A family mold is a multi-cavity mold that allows for two or more parts to be molded simultaneously.
Family molds are very useful when you have multiple parts that need to be manufactured using the same elastomer. Instead of using a separate mold for each part, you can use a family mold. Family molds can reduce production time and eliminate the need to have multiple molds tooled by a professional.
As long as the rubber parts you need manufactured are made from the same elastomer material, are similar in size to facilitate proper curing, and feature similar designs, you can use family molds to significantly reduce your tooling costs in the future.
Finding simple ways to reduce tooling costs can help you reduce the overall manufacturing costs associated with the production of custom rubber parts. Talk to a rubber part manufacturing company to learn more about the process.