Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch 01452 386608
Tools & Moulds
What are the benefits to my production programme by moulding in the UK?
In the past the Far East was utilised as a production solution, almost without question and was a recognised source of a ‘cheap’ manufacturing for many businesses.
In recent years, the fluctuating economy and uncertainties associated pre and post-Brexit marked the start of a change in attitude towards overseas manufacturing as bit by bit it no longer seems such a financial slam dunk to have production carried out in the Far East.
I want to bring production back to the UK so should I re-shore or re-tool?
Many companies have had to reconsider manufacturing options this last year as a result of global supply chains breaking down due to the pandemic.
Need T1 Samples in 15 days?
When evaluating new designs there are some instances when the production intent material is a ‘must have’. Injection moulding is a potential solution if we tailor the type of tooling to the application.
What Tooling options are there?
Long gone are the days when the only tooling option was to use steel! These days, a wide variety of materials are used, from SLA resins such as Perform, to silicone, epoxies, aluminium and steel.
My prototype must be in the production intent material (ABS, PC, PA, PP etc). What are my options?
The short answer is you have to make a mould tool. However this needs qualifying, as today processes such as SLS use nylon (PA) as their standard material. FDM works with ABS, ABS/PC, PC, Ultem and PPS. These techniques, whilst getting much closer to the production material, do not allow for a particular grade to be chosen and are still subject to some optimisation for the process.
Development, Prototype and Bridge Tooling - which do I need to get moulded parts fast?
This type of tooling will usually have lead-times that vary from a few days to 3 - 4 weeks depending on complexity, size and sophistication.
What if Vacuum Casting was called 3D Printing?
In all the publicity associated with 3D printing, we hear so little about vacuum casting.
Is this because it’s not as ‘sexy’, or perhaps its because you can’t do it sat in front of a computer, or maybe its just been there for so many decades that no one is interested?
How can Moldflow analysis help your Product Development?
Moldflow software allows the flow of plastic inside a mould tool during the injection moulding process to be analysed. The 3D CAD data generated during the design process can be used directly to determine the manufacturability of the part.
How is Low Volume Production (LVP) tooling different from development or production tooling?
Mould tool options which give flexibility for time versus cost......
Bridge Tooling – what is it and when should I use it?
Bridge Tooling can also be known as development tooling or rapid tooling, and defines a stage in development where there is a need for moulded parts but production tooling is unavailable. Its name coming from the fact that it forms a bridge between prototyping and production.
Is Aluminium Tooling a friend or a foe?
There are many applications that require production material parts, early in the development cycle. This could be for mechanical properties, chemical resistance, temperature capability to name but a few.
The issue then becomes one of how to ‘control’ the lead time associated with the mould tooling and try to short cut both the time and cost associated with conventional production tooling.
At Plunkett Associates we try to understand exactly what the driver behind the requirement is, so that we can tailor the solution rather than apply a one size fits all strategy.
Aluminium can offer significant advantages in this environment when specified correctly but is far from a panacea and recognising its drawbacks is very important.
How many parts can I expect from an aluminium tool?
The two big factors here are the grade of aluminium used for the tooling and the material being moulded.
Should Aluminium be considered as a tooling material?
We believe aluminium tooling offers significant benefits in the right applications:
- Being a softer metal, it is faster to machine. This can have price benefits and result in faster delivery times.
- Aluminium has a better thermal conductivity than steel, with the potential therefore to offer reduced cycle times.
- For high gloss finishes, it can be polished about 30% faster.
Custom enclosures - what can you offer?
It’s often a race against time to get enclosures for new products designed and manufactured. Waiting until electronics and internal workings are finalised can leave you very short on time, but the good news is, there are lots of options and Plunkett Associates is here to help.
What are my options for low volume batch production runs?
Whilst many companies view low quantities as a nuisance, they represent our staple diet!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of injection moulding?
Injection moulding is one of the most commonly used methods of producing identical plastic products in high volumes.
How important is the relationship between your moulder and toolmaker?
It was Steve Jobs who said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Is Short Run Injection Moulding Expensive?
We are surrounded by injection moulded parts in every facet of our lives, from light switches to the electric kettles we use to the keys on our keyboards. The one thing all these items have in common is that they are produced in high numbers, frequently hundreds of thousands upwards.
How do I design plastic parts for injection moulding?
Part Design is the key to success and our top tip is “KEEP IT SIMPLE”.
What methods can I use to produce plastic prototype and production parts?
From 3D Printing to CNC Machining, Vacuum Casting to Injection Moulding, the process options for plastic parts are limitless. Transitioning from prototyping to production can be a challenge, and it may be worth considering the long term requirements (if you know them) first.
Injection Moulding or Vacuum Casting. Which one should I use?
Injection moulding is often dismissed as being too expensive, requiring long lead times and being inflexible, but that's not always the case. We take a look at some of the advantages the technology offers with a real case that proves that is not always the case.
What are the smallest sized parts I can have by injection moulding?
The newest addition to our moulding family is a Baby! Our Babyplast is perfect for micro injection moulding.
“Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
“I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
"Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
“We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
“Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
“We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
“We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
“Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
“Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
“Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
Simon Ryder, Artist
To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
"With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount.
Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate.
The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
“Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
“Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
“ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
“Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive.
Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
Jet Cooper, Sculptor