Have you ever had an action figure missing a plastic piece or a toy soldier missing a gun? Have you ever looked at a box full of toy soldiers and wondered how they got all the soldiers to have the same guns, pockets, and hats? If you’ve wondered about these questions you are probably wondering how you could do it yourself—here are two ways you can have some fun with plastic.
DIY Injection Molding
If you are trying to create your own bouncy ball or tape dispenser, do it yourself injection molding is probably for you. Injection molding is a type of molding you can perform at home with the correct tools. Injection molding is “injecting molten plastic material at a high pressure into a metal mold.” In other words, Injection molding is heating up plastic quickly, putting it in a mold while it’s melted, and allowing it to cool in the shape of the mold. To perform this kind of molding you will need to make a metal mold in the shape of whatever you want to create. Many people create their own mold and heat the plastic up and place it in the mold. This type of molding is great, but it requires a little bit of time and patience to get done right. Injection molding is perfect for large manufacturing jobs where the pieces are always going to be the same and there needs to be a larger quantity of pieces.
The 3D printer is a little more flexible. 3D printers use a 3D drawing of an image and turn it into two-dimensional layers stacked on top of each other. Over time the layers are added and come together to be a physical representation of the original image the creator selected. One of the obvious benefits to 3D printing is you do not have to create the mold like in injection molding. 3D printing is perfect for hobbyists because whenever you want a new plastic toy, you can simply draw the image and have the printer do all the hard labor. These days, 3D printers are available for sale for under $400 and can be bought on amazon or other places online. I would recommend them unless you are looking for a more hands-on experience.
DIY injection molding is cheap and you end up learning a lot more about plastic manufacturing. If you want to get a hands-on learning experience for a cheaper price, try out the DIY injection molding.
The 3D printer is a little more expensive, but you don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty in plastic and creating custom molds. If you want to have a lot of little plastic pieces that you can make on command in all different shapes and sizes, and you are willing to spend around $400, then you should purchase a 3D printer.
Hopefully, you learned a little more about 3D printing and injection molding and figured out which method works better for you. If you are looking for a manufacturer to complete some injection molding for you or your company, dwinc.org has an injection molding service and can mold parts that are up to 32 ounces.