The simple answer is that plastic injection molds range in price from $100 for a 3D printed injection mold to $100,000 plus for a sophisticated multi-cavity steel mold for greater manufacturing loads, which is typically the most important fixed start-up cost in injection molding. However, because these expenses are spread across hundreds or thousands of components, injection molding is a suitable method for mass-producing plastic parts at a low cost.
This article provides a detailed analysis of the many elements that contribute to the final injection molding cost.
Factors Related to Injection Mold Cost
Typically, the cost of the mold, also referred to as the tooling cost, is the major cost driver in injection molding. Let’s take a look at some of the elements that influence the price of an injection mold.
- Your part’s complexity: Keep in mind that building an injection mold is a process in and of itself. The more complicated your part, the longer it will take to produce the mold. Greater accuracy is necessary to maintain the mold’s and the part’s quality, and a reputable mold maker will collaborate with you to manage flow rate, cooling time, and other critical components of the molding process.
- Size of your part: Larger components necessitate larger molds, which necessitate more material and time in production. Costs are connected with the production of a bigger mold, especially if the mold is manufactured anywhere other than the facility that will be producing your components.
- Your mold material will be: Tool steel is often regarded as the benchmark in injection mold material: It is high-quality, robust, and generally long-lasting, and it may be used with a wide variety of plastic injection molding materials. It is also one of the most expensive mold materials available.
- Best practices for component and mold design are as follows: If it concerns manufacturability, one product or mold might be created in 100 different ways. There may not be a “best” method, however, there are easier methods than others, here’s where guiding principles for both products and mold design — as well as their impacts on mold and production costs — come into play.
- Mold efficiency: In a word, this involves planning ahead of time and making the most of your mold. Assume your product is a basic, egg-shaped plastic component with a 50,000-part first production run. Can you imagine how long it would take to make those pieces one at a time? You may develop a mold that can manufacture multiple (or more) parts in a single machine cycle by working with an expert and efficient mold designer.
Mold manufacturer location: This was also mentioned while researching how mold size may affect your total injection molding expenses. To have your mold wherever it needs to go, an off-site plastic injection mold maker will charge you extra for shipping and handling.
Injection Mold Materials Cost
Depending on the needs of the finished products, a broad range of polymers can be utilized for injection molding. The cost involved when you buy plastic injection mold materials varies depending on the material selected. Thermoplastic pellets range in price from $1 to $5 per kilogram.
Material cost is determined by the design of a product, the material utilized, and the quantity of material needed to complete the injection molding process.
Injection Mold Machine Cost
For injection molding, special-purpose equipment ranging from tiny personal molding machines that enterprises may use in-house to big industrial injection molding equipment primarily handled by providers, contractors, and major manufacturers is utilized.
With small desktop injection molding equipment and 3D printed molds, creating modest volumes of components with injection molding is the most cost-effective. Small-scale automated injection molding machines are viable options for medium-series manufacturing of small components.
Large industrial injection molding machines can range in price from $50,000 to more than $200,000. These machines also have more strict facility requirements and the need for specialized staff for operations, upkeep, and monitoring. As a result, although injection molding is a core competency, most businesses outsource mass manufacturing to service providers and contract manufacturers, with equipment expenses included in the service prices.
Injection Mold Tooling Cost
Injection molding, the major cost driver is generally mold or tooling expenses. Molds for injection molding are typically created in one of three ways:
- CNC machining; CNC machines are the most widely utilized equipment for producing high-precision aluminum and stainless steel molds. CNC machining involves the removal of material using a rotating tool and a fixed component. Machining can create molds with very complicated cavity designs, but they may need many tool changes, which can hinder the process and raise costs in line with complexity.
- EDM(Electrical Discharge Machining); EDM is commonly used to make very intricate mold patterns that are difficult to replicate using normal machining processes. To create the desired mold shape, EDM employs a workpiece and a tool electrode. A dielectric fluid separates the tool electrode and the workpiece electrode, which are then exposed to voltages that induce repeated current discharges. The discharges are in charge of forming the substrate electrode into the finished mold. EDM is extremely precise and usually does not require any extra post-processing.
- 3D printing; 3D printing is a great tool for quickly and affordably producing injection molds. It needs relatively little equipment, freeing up CNC time and trained operators for all other high-value activities in the meanwhile. Manufacturers may employ in-house 3d printers to build molds that can be used on either desktop or industrial molding equipment. Moreover, the opportunity to improve on the design and verify the end-use component before engaging in hard tooling for mass manufacturing improves product development.
Creating more sophisticated molds necessitates technical knowledge. As a result, companies typically outsource specific aspects of injection molding, for instance, mold design and production.
If a plastic injection mold factory has the tools and materials, creating molds in-house may be the most cost-effective option if the technical expertise is also accessible. If the tools required for injection molding are not easily accessible, outsourcing lowers the cost of developing a mold.
3D printers can manufacture basic low volume 3D printed molds for as cheap as $100. A metal mold for a mid-volume service life of 1,000-5,000 units costs between $2,000 and $5,000. Mold costs can range from $5,000 to $100,000 for molds with more complicated shapes and prepared for higher production runs of 10,000+ pieces.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to injection molding prices, basic plastic injection molds might range from $3,000 to $6,000. A big, more sophisticated high-production, cross-cavity mold can cost between $25,000 and $50,000 or more. Although it may seem obvious, several factors contribute to the cost of injection molding.
To a certain degree, asking for the costs of plastic injection molds cost is similar to questioning how much a car costs. Is your mold going to be a Pinto or a Porsche? Also, keep in mind that the cost of a mold is only the beginning. To calculate complete plastic injection molding costs for any projects, you must also include raw material, operating, and maintenance expenses in the future. These costs are a result of the aforementioned contributing factors.