Injection Molding Guide

Start Injection molding

A step-by-step guide on how to prepare for your first injection molding order.

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Injection Molding Guide

Start Injection molding

Once your design ready and optimized for injection molding, what’s next? In this section we'll take you through the steps needed to start manufacturing with injection molding.

Start Injection molding

Step 1: Start small and prototype fast

Start small & prototype fast
Start small & prototype fast

Before you commit to any expensive injection molding tooling, first create and test a functional prototype of your design.

This step is essential for launching a successful product. This way design errors can be identified early, while the cost of change is still low.

There are 3 solutions for prototyping:

  1. 3D printing (with SLS, SLA or Material Jetting)
  2. CNC machining in plastic
  3. Low-run injection molding with 3D printed molds

These processes can create realistic prototypes for form and function that closely resemble the appearance of the final injection molding product.

Use the information below as a quick comparison guide to decide which solution is best for your application.

3d printing prototyping

Prototyping with 3D printing

Min. quantity: 1 part
Typical cost: $20 - $100 per part
Lead time: 2 - 5 days

  Designs optimized for injection molding can be easily 3D printed
  Not every injection molding material is available for 3D printing
  The prototyping solution with the lowest cost and fastest turnaround
  3D printed parts are 30-50% weaker than injection molded parts
Prototyping with CNC machining

Prototyping with CNC machining

Min. quantity: 1 part
Typical cost: $100 - $500 per part
Lead time: 5 - 10 days

  Material properties identical to the injection molded parts
  Design modifications may be need, as different design restrictions apply
  Excellent accuracy and finishing
  More expensive than 3D printing with longer lead time
Prototyping with Low-run Injection molding

Prototyping with Low-run Injection molding

Min. quantity: 10 - 100 parts
Typical cost: $1000 - $4000 per part
Lead time: 5 - 10 days

  The most realistic prototypes with accurate material properties
  The prototyping solution with the highest cost
  The actual process and mold design is simulated
  Smaller availability than CNC or 3D printing

Step 2 : Make a "pilot run" (500 - 10,000 parts)

Make a pilot run (1000 - 10.000 parts)
Make a pilot run (1000 - 10.000 parts)

With the design finalized, it time to get started with Injection molding with a small pilot run.

The minimum order volume for injection molding is 500 units. For these quantities, the molds are usually CNC machined from aluminum. Aluminum molds are relatively easy to manufacture and low in cost (starting at about $3,000 to $5,000) but can withstand up to 5,000 - 10,000 injection cycles.

At this stage, the typical cost per part varies between $1 and $5, depending on the geometry of your design and the selected material. The typical lead time for such orders is 6-8 weeks.

Don’t get confused by the term “pilot run”. If you only require a few thousand parts, then this would be your final production step.

The parts manufactured with "pilot" aluminum molds have physical properties and accuracy identical to parts manufactured with “full-scale production” tool steel molds.

Step 3 : Scale up production (100,000+ parts)

Scaling up production (100.000+ parts)
Scaling up production (100.000+ parts)

When producing parts massive quantities of identical parts (from 10,000 to 100,000+ units) then special Injection molding tooling is required.

For these volumes, the molds are CNC machined from tool steel and can withstand millions of Injection molding cycles. They are also equipped with advanced features to maximize production speeds, such as hot-tip gates and intricate cooling channels.

The typical unit cost at this stage varies between a few cents to $1 and the typical lead time is 4 to 6 months, due to the complexity of designing and manufacturing the mold.

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Get to get an instant Injection molding quote

With Nuoue, outsourcing your Injection molding production is easy, fast and highly price-competitive.

By combining a network of manufacturing services with our smart sourcing engine, you can instantly access readily available production capacity for the best possible quotes and lead times.

When you upload your designs to Nuoue, our automated Design for Manufacturability analysis tools will detect any potential design issues before production begins and will give you an instant quote, based on our Manufacturing Neural Network powered by AI.

This way you can be sure that you always receive the best price in the market at the fastest turnaround times for your Injection molding parts.