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Why Custom Moulds?

Custom molds are necessary for the person or business that wishes to bring a new and unique article or product to market.

The not inconsiderable cost involved, due to labour costs, can be amortised over a period when used for business or promotional purposes, while the amateur or hobbyist can purchase the materials and be given the knowledge required, to make their own mould masters.

Custom moulds are of two general types:
" Injection molds
" Molds suitable for small production runs.

Injection molds are designed to be run on automatic machines for large production runs and can cost from thousands to hundreds of thousands to produce.

Small production run molds are designed to be used either in the vacuum forming process or in the form of a rubber mold for casting with plaster, concrete or resins etc. The cost for the production of the necessary masters, molds etc usually start at $300.00 upwards depending on size, shape, undercuts etc.

Vacuum forming is usually done using masters made of either metal, cold casting resins, resins or materials such as plasters or gypsum cement.

As you can see there is a big difference between the start up costs for injection and small run production masters. Even so many people have little concept of what is entailed in the production of masters for either process, believing that if they can buy a mold for say a few dollars, then they should be able to have their own mold made for not much more.

While we are constantly working on methods to reduce the cost of custom moulds by offering such services as personalizing a range of standard designs, where much of the production work has been done previously we are faced with the time and design constraints of the process.

How are custom molds made?

" The process starts with either a sketch or design of the finished prototype or a sculptor prepared clay, wax or plaster original.

" (a) The sketch or design is scanned into a computer for converting into a form that can be machined up in a CNC routing machine or downloaded to a 3D printer.(b) The sculpt of the original on the other hand is either laser or probe scanned directly into a computer for production of the necessary computer code that machines understand.

" The files that the computers produce are then fed to small Roland type CNC machines or larger flat bed machines for production of larger originals.

" The originals that are produced are then finished off by hand to the required standard and if to be used in the vacuum forming process they are numbered and mounted on master boards for the production of plastic moulds which of course feature a flat or plaque like back. For all other processes, whether 2D or 3D, master moulds are made of the originals.

" These master moulds are then duplicated for the production of the work moulds for day to day use.

If this sounds a long and demanding process to arrive at the end result a plastic or a rubber work mold, you are correct. You would be foolish to consider having a custom mold made, unless you were contemplating using the molds for a commercial activity to produce a profit or were prepared to pay the not inconsiderable expense involved for some personal reason.

Custom molds, for many an entrepreneur are the start to a highly profitable and successful business, in that for hundreds of dollars, they are able to produce and test market a product that a larger company would need to outlay thousands for the necessary injection molds.

Large companies have to be very careful in what they release for sale in that it always entails large amounts of money which must be justified to the boardroom. The entrepreneur using custom short run rubber molds can produce prototypes and go on to test market for a fraction of the cost of mass production companies. Many have done so and seized money making opportunities.

Stan Alderson © 2012 Aldax Enterprises Pty Ltd C1000a

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