Anyone with experience with short-run plastic fabrication?
January 23, 2004 7:30 AM   Subscribe

The future is Plastics! Anyone with experience with short-run plastic fabrication? [more inside]

Ok, here is the deal. I want to make a specialty product out of plastic. I would design it in the computer, and then transmit the digital model to the plastic fabricator for production. I am thinking runs of 5000 units or less. The product would be less than 5"x5"x2" and would have only a few moving parts - but all in all pretty simple - think plastic box with a matte finish. I know Praystation had something made for his Hard Drive on a CD - but he is hard to contact. So does anyone have experience with plastics? I’ve googled, and have some rudimentary ideas, but the collective hive mind’s help would be appreciated.
posted by plemeljr to Technology (5 answers total)
 
From the sounds of what you need to make, you are looking at an injection molding process, which really isn't synonymous with short runs. Injection molding has large upfront costs for building the metal forms, so you must recoup those costs over longer production runs.
posted by machaus at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2004


If I were doing something like this, I'd actually check the local yellow pages. Find a couple of likely companies, call them, and explain what you'd like to do. Most companies will cheerfully steer you in the right direction if they're not set up to handle the work you want.

(My company does small run corrugated packaging. When somebody calls with an idea, we say "great, we can do that" or we send the person to another company that might be better able to help.)

Sometimes the old ways are best. :)
posted by jdroth at 9:22 AM on January 23, 2004


On-demand plastic fabricators are very much an emerging technology, but despite predictions, aren't quite here yet. "Personal fabricators" were featured in a 1999 USPS ad, and is rapidly approaching proof-of-concept graduate study stage, and there are stereolithography and 3-D printer products that are pegged for rapid prototyping, but holy grails such as a rumored $1000 3-D printer from HP seem little more than hype at the moment.
posted by dhartung at 10:55 PM on January 23, 2004


http://www.quickparts.com/
http://www.stratasys.com
http://www.cc.utah.edu/~asn8200/rapid.html
and, if you'd rather use metal:
http://www.prometal-rt.com

These are from my own bookmarks and haven't been checked in awhile, additionally I nevered used the services linked, only researched them for a now defunct project.
posted by Grod at 4:45 PM on January 24, 2004


Try Ironwood Plastics. They are in the middle of nowhere and likely have lower labor costs (cost of living is CHEAP there!). I know they do this sort of thing.
posted by Goofyy at 1:53 AM on January 25, 2004


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