Plastic prototype and production parts. What are the options?

Plastic Parts

Plastic Parts

With Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) there is considerable choice when prototyping custom plastic parts. However, with all the hype around 3D Printing techniques it is easy to overlook the more established option of CNC Machining. This remains a very cost effective solution, especially for larger parts and functional materials.

Let's look at the options.Vacuum cast plastic cosmetic part

Rapid Prototyping (RP) is ideally suited to handling high component complexity. It provides a fast and economic means of validating such designs before tooling release. 

Despite the growth of RP, CNC machining still plays a significant part in plastic custom prototyping and low volume production and should not be overlooked as a viable option. Material choices are wider and when combined with our global sourcing, which includes the Far East, the results we can give you are often extremely economically attractive.

Vacuum casting is the first step into tooling; we can offer through this process good detail combined with a range of polyurethanes designed to emulate the mainstream production of plastic parts. Depending on part and materials chased, tool life is typically 15 - 25 off.

Injection moulded plastic partsBridge tooling is an extremely viable option when you need to produce plastic parts from production intent material whilst avoiding investment in expensive production tooling. Part quantities can range from low 10's to 1000's off, and can use loose inserts to avoid automation.

Injection moulding still dominates the production of the majority of plastic parts, and whether combined with bridge tooling or full production tooling, offers a consistent high quality source of parts. Usually considered to involve long lead times and high costs, this is not always the case and is really a case of matching the requirements to the type of tooling produced. - this is something we can help you with.

Injection moulding for low volume plastic partDepending upon the combination of processes and material selected, varying levels of evaluation from basic visuals through form and fit, to full functional verification can be performed.

Find out more about process options for plastic prototype and production parts on our processes page, or visit our FAQs for more information on options for custom plastic parts.

Alternatively, give us a call. As an ISO 9001:2015 Quality System certified supplier, we can supply the perfect solution for your part.

Plastic Parts Processes

CNC Machining

The benefits of CNC parts include substantial flexibility in material choice, high accuracy and repeatability.

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Injection Moulding

Produces production intent material properties. Injection Moulding is used for development as well as production parts.

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Vacuum Casting

Ideal for producing small quantities of plastic and flexible rubber parts, especially if aesthetics are important.

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Stereolithography (SLA)

Produces accurate 3D models with a range of material choices. High Res SLA and Micro SLA for smaller parts.

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Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is the second most commonly used process after Stereolithography (SLA). SLS parts can be produced with high functionality in very short lead times.

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3D Printing

Offering one of the largest ranges of materials, Polyjet can produce hard, flexible and multi material parts.

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Extrusion is a manufacturing method where long lengths of the same cross section can be produced quickly and repeatedly.

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Metal Plating

Metal Plating offers some exciting possibilities both in Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Manufacturing arenas.

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