The internet has greatly sped up the pace of business, and the plastic injection molding industry is no exception. For example, it wasn’t that long ago when it took designers weeks or even months to obtain a quote for a custom plastic injection molding job. These days, the quotation processing time has been reduced to just a matter of hours, thanks to the internet and some extremely sophisticated online quotation tools. The result? A vastly faster, and more nimble, plastic injection molding industry.
Plastics, at the Speed of the Internet
You probably already know that plastic parts are used in every industry, from housing to housewares. The reduction of the manufacturing time window has particularly affected the plastics industry. Due to the sky-rocketing demand for high-spec products with teeny turnaround times, the need for prototype and rapid production plastic parts is greater than ever.
The darling of production methods in plastics these days is Additive Manufacturing (AM), better known as 3D Printing. Although not actually new, it seems to be all over the media, both online and off. While the method does have great advantages for certain projects, it will never usurp traditional plastic injection molding, at least not in its present state of development.
Why? Plastic injection molding is still one of the most basic, reliable methods for manufacturing plastic parts.
The Online Engineer
Today’s best engineers are online, and they are using a variety of digital resources to perform nearly all their tasks, including sourcing products, equipment, services and suppliers. Perhaps most tellingly, they are using the internet to request quotes from suppliers. In fact, it’s been estimated that 75% of technical professionals use supplier websites for information, and 62% use the Internet to ask for a quote.
Just a few years ago, the quotation process involved multiple steps, several different people, and many days. An engineer would fire off an email to the supplier with an attached CAD drawing and the specifications for the part needed. There might be some additional emails or phone calls to clarify the specifications, and then the request might get forwarded to another person who actually worked up the quote. The quote might come back in the form of a spreadsheet, which then had to be converted to a quote form and finally delivered to the customer.
Today, however, with the introduction of sophisticated online quotation systems, the quote processing time has been compressed from days to minutes. What’s more quotation systems also sometimes act as project management software. For example, the customer can track his project’s status through the system, and communicate with the sales engineers and project managers on a discussion board. This “one-stop online shop” eliminates communication delays that can happen with multiple emails and phone calls. It also allows users to upload important files and documents, keeping all the project information in one place that’s easily accessible by all parties.
To sum up, online quotation systems have revolutionized the process for getting a quote for custom plastic injection molding projects. What’s more, the plastic parts themselves are getting produced faster and faster — but that’s a subject for a future blog post.
Perhaps one day we will simply dream up a plastic part and it will suddenly materialize, right in front of our very eyes!