Choosing the right prototyping method can help cut time and costs for your injection molding program. Empire offers several options for prototyping both precision plastic parts and plastic optics, each with its own benefits. Often a combination of these methods is used leading up to full-volume production.
Whether you require small volumes or a quick ramp-up to full production, Empire will work with you to determine the best approach for your project.
Often, following one of the other prototyping methods, prototype tooling involves the same gating, ejection, and cooling procedures as will be applied in full production. Once the final design is established, production intent prototypes are created using rigorous Scientific Molding processes. This type of tooling is necessary for high-volume injection molding programs.
Some customers prefer a rapid tooling option in which they own the tool. Considered a prototype tool, aluminum tooling allows customers to easily move into to full-volume production. Rapid tooling allows for easier design and mold changes, more resin choices, and higher-volume runs. Parts can also be grouped in a family tool for greater cost savings.
Precision machining is a subtractive method of prototyping that uses CNC mills and lathes to shape stock materials. This option is useful for low-volume runs and is typically low cost and high quality.
Rapid prototyping of plastic optics can be achieved using single point diamond turning. A quick, cost-effective option, SPDT allows for plastic optical designs to be created without the added first step of building an expensive injection mold.
Diamond turning is also suited for limited runs of precision plastic optics. These small-volume SPDT runs help our customers meet early demands before moving to full-scale production.
SPDT typically has a 2-4 week turnaround.