13 Aug Can Use of Sequential Injection Molding Reduce Production Costs on Your Project?
Tooling design can be critical to achieving commercialization goals. Tool design has a direct impact on product cosmetics, cost and scalability. Sequential injection molding offers both cosmetic and throughput benefits, but in its traditional form has required a bulky mold and use of larger tonnage machines to accommodate the external hydraulic support system. Forefront Medical Technology, a specialty contract manufacturer with a focus in disposable diagnostic, drug delivery systems and medical device systems, has patented a streamlined sequential tooling design which utilizes a mechanical function inside the tool to eliminate the need for an external hydraulic system. The end result is a tool that easily fits in standard machines of the same tonnage as conventional injection molding tool, but is 50 percent faster than a conventional tool.
Sequential molding is similar to stack molding, in that it utilizes a tool with two plates. Each face can have multiple cavities. The first side is injected with resin and produces a part that cools while the second side produces a part. The end result is substantial elimination of cooling time which reduces cycle time about 50 percent.
The challenge with sequential molding is that typically the synchronized injection process is achieved via the use of an externally-mounted hydraulic system. This increases tool size and weight, often making it suitable only for larger presses.
Forefront Medical Technology has patented a Self-Sufficient Sequential Locking Device for Injection Molding Tool. This device utilizes an internal mechanical design to provide natural segregation of the left and right parts, plus molding process synchronization without the need of external hardware. It is also designed for easy removal from the tool. The compact design ensures it will fit standard machines and the dual-face design doubles the number of cavities per machine.
The Benefit of Working with Forefront’s Engineering Team
As this example shows, the team at Forefront Medical Technology is focused not only on manufacturing quality products; they also seek to improve overall production technology and processes. The advantages are twofold. First, ability to dramatically increase throughput through technology improvements provides a competitive edge in term s of cost and scalability for new products. Second, the team’s focus on continuous improvement helps ensure continued focus on reducing cost later in the product life cycle, helping add life to a product facing a more competitive market.
Our Product Development Model
Forefront Medical utilizes a vertically integrated business model, which includes tooling design and fabrication, in addition to product design. Forefront’s engineering team uses a standardized process in which customer requirements are assessed and a Design Development Plan (DDP) is created. A customer specification is then developed and market inputs are collected. Once the customer specification is approved, 3D CAD models are developed and analyzed. Design reviews which include functional analysis and risk evaluation are completed. After a customer’s team approves the design, prototyping and verification begins.
When tooling design and fabrication are integrated into the product development process, tooling options, costs and constraints can be evaluated concurrently with product design decisions. Communication is streamlined. which minimizes time and cost. Forefront Medical enhances this by having standardized software tools in its US Technical Center, Singapore Design Center and China full-scale commercial tool room. Cimatron or NX-Siemens software is used for tool, hot runner and cooling system designs. Mold-flow software is used for mold-flow analysis and to support Design of Experiments (DoEs) to optimize the design and molding parameters when those parameters are not resident in their existing library. Moldex3D software is utilized for molding process simulations to test assumptions prior to tool fabrication. This standardized approach enables tool designers to easily demonstrate the likely performance of the tool under review to the customer’s team during the product development process.
A Strong Focus on Manufacturability
In single-use medical device manufacturing, the quality of the tooling design and fabrication process dictates the amount of secondary processing options needed for the product, the contractor’s ability to control key parameters in the process likely to affect product quality, production throughput and the life of the tool. The earlier manufacturability issues are analyzed in tooling development, the less expensive the tooling design modifications will be. Working with a design team that is analyzing design for manufacturability early in the product development process eliminates added design spins, enhances quality, and optimizes cycle time while producing higher yields, which reduces cost.
Forefront uses a gated design process that enables tooling development to begin as early in the design process as possible. The Company has taken a vertically integrated approach to tooling fabrication and use of its in-house resources often cuts another 2-3 months off of product development time. The tooling design process includes a design for manufacturability (DFM) phase, followed by development of the mold specification. As mentioned earlier, mold-flow analysis tools are used to ensure efficient molding with minimal scrap and minimization of secondary finishing processes. This computer analysis minimizes design iterations on tooling.
Our Experience Reduces Time and Cost
Typically, medical device manufacturers have defined cost targets for their products. In single use medical devices, these unit price cost targets have little margin for deviation. Consequently, both the product development and tooling design strategy must align within these cost constraints. Additionally, tooling cost can be a significant factor when a company is introducing a new product that is expected to take months or a year to increase to high volume. Having a contract manufacturer able to understand these constraints and recommend tooling strategies that address them can be critical.
Forefront Medical maintains a detailed library of injection parameters related to the best mix of injection pressure, speed and other variables based on materials used. With standard molds and resins, developing optimal injection parameters utilizing this library typically takes two hours. This knowledge base also makes it easier to validate assumptions on most efficient tool designs relative to product cost targets. The team also looks at tradeoffs between mold complexity and preferred machine size.
Forefront Medical’s expertise in both tooling design and manufacturing provides its customers with innovative, cost saving solutions that provide a competitive edge during product commercialization.
About Forefront Medical Technology
Forefront Medical Technology is a global medical device contract manufacturer with five locations. Singapore is Forefront’s headquarters, as well as home to our Design Engineering Center and specialty manufacturing. JiangSu and Xiamen, China, are additional manufacturing locations and are also China FDA Registered. Shanghai, China, Farmington, CT USA are regional Business Development offices which assure our technical sales teams are close to our customers for local, responsive assistance.
We have developed extensive capabilities with laryngeal mask airways, diagnostic devices, drug delivery systems, enteral feeding catheters, infusion sets, wire reinforced tubes, optically clear components, patient monitoring devices and other specialty products. Each of our locations has state of the art manufacturing capabilities that include class 100K clean rooms for extrusion and injection molding, complimented by class 10K clean rooms for assembly and packaging. Forefront Medical’s integrated technical approach provides customers the total manufacturing solution and global supply chain. Our facilities are TUV ISO 13485:2016, ISO 9001 and FDA Registered. Forefront is a wholly owned subsidiary of VicPlas International Ltd, who is listed on the SGX Main Board, Singapore stock exchange.