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Alternative ways to make small plastic parts

So you need a custom plastic part, but you don’t know how to get it made or how to make it yourself.
Is it large or small? Should it be flexible or stiff? Is it round, square, or some other uncommon shape?

This guide will explain the different kinds of production processes available today to help you discover the ideal process for your product.

*Disclaimer: Even though APSX exclusively offers injection molding machines, our intention is this guide honestly helps you choose the best form of production for your product. Sometimes, the best choice is injection molding… other times, it’s another method. Our goal with this guide is to be as objective as possible while pointing you in the best direction to get your part or product made using the ideal method.

It is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Molten plastic is injected at high pressure into a mold, which is the inverse of the desired shape. The mold is held closed under high pressure and cooled so that the molded product solidifies. Once the plastic has cooled, the mold is opened, usually automatically, and the finished product is removed or automatically ejected. The mold is made from metal, usually either steel or aluminum, and precision-machined to form the features of the desired part. Injection molding is used to create many things such as wire spools, bottle caps, automotive dashboards and most other plastic products available today. Injection molding is the most common method of part manufacturing.

For Parts: Bumpers, switches, medical devices, bottle caps and much more

Hollow plastic items are the best for this method. The process heats finely ground plastic resin in molds that are spun on two axes while being baked in large ovens. Centrifugal force pushes the molten plastic against the walls of the mold. In order to maintain even thickness throughout the part, the mold continues to rotate at all times during the heating phase and to avoid sagging or deformation also during the cooling phase. Diverse products like kayaks, fuel tanks and children’s play balls are created

For Parts: Utility carts, storage bins, road cones, car parts, kayaks etc.


A manufacturing process by which hollow plastic parts are formed. In general, there are three main types of blow molding: extrusion blow molding, injection blow molding, and stretch blow molding. The blow molding process is a well-developed molding technique, used mainly with products that have a uniform wall thickness and where the shape will be important. First, plastic granules are fed into a hopper and then heated to form a molten plastic. The material is blown to the shape of the mold. Once the plastic has cooled and hardened the mold opens up and the part is ejected. Blow molding processes generate, in most cases, bottles, plastic drums, and fuel tanks. There are many types of materials to choose from and the tooling is less expensive than injection molding, but higher than rotational molding. Although blow molding has been automated and can produce mass quantities of products, the process is largely limited to hollow forms. These forms are delicate and contain various thicknesses which must be precise, which often results in wasted material in the process of arriving at containers with proper dimensions and specifications.

For Parts: Bottles, fuel tanks, traffic cones

A manufacturing process by extruding melted plastic through a die that provides the correct profile shape. Manufacturing companies employ extrusion molding to make products with a consistent cross-section. Common items found in a home made by this process include PVC pipe, rain gutters and even straws. Extrusion molding has a low cost relative to other molding processes. The nature of the extrusion molding process places limits on the kinds of products it can manufacture. For example, plastic soda bottles narrow at one end to accommodate a cap, which normal extrusion molding cannot achieve.

For Parts: Hoses, straws, PVC pipe, gutters

A manufacturing process of heating and molding temperature-sensitive material. It uses sheets of a polymer called thermoplastic, which is extruded in varying levels of thickness, depending on its intended purpose. Thermoforming uses several different types of molds and processes in order to achieve the final product. Thin-gauge thermoforming is primarily the manufacture of disposable cups, containers, lids, trays, blisters, clamshells, and other products for the food and general retail industries. Thick-gauge thermoforming includes parts as diverse as vehicle door and dash panels, refrigerator liners, utility vehicle beds, and plastic pallets.

For Parts: Cups, lids, clamshells

Flexible CNC machining and turning centers, coupled with a diverse offering of both metal and plastic materials are possible to be machined. Common materials include: ABS, Nylon, PEEK, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polyethylene and polyurethane resins.

SLA Prototypes are typically used for design verification. A diverse range of polymers are available, including ABS like and polypropylene like materials as well as traditional "water clear" resin blends.
SLS Prototypes are tough, durable resins suitable for functional testing needs. Commonly used for prototyping of nylon parts.
FDM Prototypes are advanced, tough engineering materials intended for real life design validation.

Desktop injection molding machine
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desktop injection molding machine
Injection molding machines, also known as presses, consist of a material hopper, an injection ram or screw-type plunger, and a heating unit. The molds are clamped to the platen of the molding machine, where plastic is injected through the sprue orifice to create injection molds.
Today, electric presses are taking over the typical hydraulic injection molding machines. Companies who produce injection molds prefer them as they offer 80% less energy consumption and nearly 100% repeatability, by utilizing electric servo motors. While the cost of an electric molding machine is typically 30% higher than a hydraulic press, higher demand for injection molds is closing the gap on cost.

Among the list below, you will find that APSX-PIM reduces your injection molding costs no matter what.

Low Volume Manufacturing
low volume manufacturing
If the part will not be consumed more than 200K pieces a year, the APSX-PIM is a perfect manufacturing machine for the part. In fact, manufacturers will sometimes dedicate an APSX-PIM to each part. Low initial investment cost and fully automated production settings for many types of plastics make it perfect solution for many low volume manufacturers such as medical device makers, aerospace and also custom plastic part manufacturers.

Engineering Prototype, Research and Development
research and development
R&D part requests suddenly can ruin a well-run daily production schedule. APSX-PIM offers an alternative. Its low cost makes it perfectly suited to one-off designs. APSX-PIM allows product development departments to keep a machine "at the ready", dedicated solely to R&D work. There are many benefits to this approach. The prototype turn-around time is quicker, the product designers gain a clearer understanding of the manufacturing process, and consequently the final design is easier to manufacture when the production model shows up in the job queue of the injection machine shop. Development with the use of a APSX-PIM is more efficient and eliminates the huge expense of typical conventional manufacturing processes, the expense all the way from an "idea" to production. It also allows a clear separation of the cost accounting of the daily conventional manufacturing processes from the costs of product development.

Bootstrap Entrepreneur
startup entrepreneur drawing
Establishing a new business is always a high-risk task. The high capital cost of mold design and injection molding is difficult to justify and often impossible to use finance without a proven business plan. APSX-PIM can get you started at very low cost. By using a APSX-PIM instead of a high volume and large size injection machine, your business would have significantly lower capitalization costs.

This is a typical bootstrap technique: it gets you up and running and proves the plan. Once the business is established and the sales are demonstrated, it becomes much easier to justify an investment in equipment for larger volume.

Hobbyist / Engineer Alone
hobbyist in a garage
You may start a new business while keeping your day job. One of the problems of this is the difficulty in establishing relationships with local businesses when you have limited working hours. Your contractors will be unwilling to meet you on your time; they may not consider you to be an important customer. You may have trouble getting what you need when you need it. But if you can make your own prototypes, you will reduce your frustration and the time between your initial idea and final product. If you are just a general hobbyist, you’ll be more than pleased with the precision, repeatability and ease of use our machine provides for how little you’ve spent. There is nothing else on the market that comes close to APSX-PIM for the price!

technical schools
Before APSX-PIM, injection molding machinery for education was limited for students. Most machines on the market are too expensive and have difficult learning curves. Our machines demonstrate the theory and practice of real world production makes the best educational tool. That requires a machine capable of performing real industrial processes. With its precision and real world capability, APSX-PIM can offer your students a much greater understanding of the way things work using our easy-to-learn touch screen tablet PC and software. Typically trade and engineering schools will use our machine to teach students how to go from an “idea” to a 3D design with (Fusion 360), to a CNC mold with (APSX-CNC), to a real tangible part for production with (APSX-PIM) in just one day…amazing! This process is easily accomplishable in minimal time and only gets better the more you practice! In fact, here at APSX we design and put into production new parts for our products regularly using this same exact one day “idea” to “finished product” process!

Five tips for rapid prototyping and plastic design

1. Observe and understand real-world application.
Getting engineers into the field can help clarify what the customer wants and what the real-world application of the part will be in the field. For example, seeing first-hand the harsh clamping process that injection machine is exposed to enables the design engineer to give more consideration to the device’s components, such as sealants, materials, buttons, etc. It also helps engineers create more rigorous test protocols so the device’s safety and reliability can be accurately verified and validated. Without this knowledge, it’s likely that many important parameters related to the device’s operation and handling will be overlooked in the testing process.

2. Design for Manufacturing/Design for Assembly.
DFM/DFA helps finalize all the features that add cost associated with manufacturing time and material. The goal is to ensure a smooth transition from design to full-scale production and prevent potential manufacturing issues as early as possible. Without careful consideration of the assembly process during the prototyping stage, it’s likely that manufacturing will be more difficult, timely, and expensive than planned. For example, thorough examination of a prototype may reveal that more clamping points need to be added to the design to accommodate a torque requirement during assembly.

3. Collaborate with machinists.
A designer’s best ally is coordinating with a prototype machinist early in the design phase—even before a prototype is made—this helps alleviate issues that may hold up production. Because the machinists have extensive knowledge of the machines on the manufacturing floor and what the machines’ capabilities are, they can offer invaluable feedback about the manufacturability of the design. In addition, the machinist’s familiarity with tooling, production machines, and assembly makes them an essential resource for suggestions on how to modify the design to accommodate manufacturing capabilities while still meeting the customer’s requirements.

4. Use prototyping technology productively.
Prototype machines like 3-D printers and direct metal laser sintering machines reduce time and cost because parts can be made and tested quicker. However, the creation of the prototype isn’t as valuable without feedback from machinists and producing a new prototype after each design change for the customer to review.
The ability to prototype in-house makes it faster, easier, and less costly for part designers and engineers to communicate their design intent to the customer. By being able to see what the design specifications produced and feel the device in their hands, both the customer and designer can more accurately evaluate whether or not the design is on track. And if changes need to be made, modifications can be incorporated and tested for fit, form, and function in hours instead of weeks.

5. Run pre-production.
Preproduction bridges the gap between prototyping and manufacturing, strengthens communication and collaboration between manufacturing and engineering, and accelerates the production process. For example, if there’s a feature that requires a unique drill size to create a distinct hole in the device, a preproduction run might reveal that a slight update to the design will allow a standard drill to be used instead a custom tool or fixture.

Important things to consider for product development and custom plastic molding
- Plan for more resources
The tasks are mostly new and trial and error environment exist. The resource buffer should meet that demand. APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC machines can give the early feedback about the design by tangible prototypes in one day and can reduce unforeseen expenses and time

- Reduce error where there is a time delay bottleneck – mold making etc
The time it takes to receive a mold just to initial test the product is typically long. It can create frustration if the trials go wrong several times. APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC allow you to test in-house in small scale before you commit money and time for a large scale injection molding. Remember the hint. Eliminate the wait times and fine-tune faster..

- Set up project boards to see tangible progress and have short stand-up meetings
Categorize the work-in-progress stages to visually see where you stand for all work in process (WIP) parts. Categories like “Ready”, “Modify”, “Ready to test”, “Testing” can be helpful.

- Reduce the product test batch size to shorten the feedback delays
Allow in advance time to go back to drawing board and make the necessary modifications before it gets too deep in the project timeline. APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC machines allow you to test part materials on smaller scales before proceeding to large scale production.

- Due to fluid nature of development work, plans have to be flexible and changing accordingly
It is always ok to revise a master plan if things change during the project path. Remember that pushing the initial plan just to save time in the short term does not make any project more successful and can result in delayed consequences. APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC give you the flexibility to go back and make necessary changes quickly so you don’t restrict the long term development of your project.

- Less features can be more – just provide what customer needs with simple design
Large mold manufacturers tend to make extra details on the parts; however it reduces the flexibility as a manufacturer to change the injection mold provider or design due to unnecessary features on the part. APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC were created with the intention to naturally direct the builder towards a simple design that can be modified with ease.

- Let the team learn from the mistakes during the project by allowing them test in house
It can be very costly when something goes wrong with an expensive injection mold. Chances to learn from the mistakes can reduce this cost significantly. However APSX-PIM and APSX-CNC have initial and operational cost so low that you can perform trial and error approach while learning faster, better and with less cost.

Injection molding cost

*sample for a 15gr part with a single cavity mold

Plastic materials and suggested wall thicknesses and mold type need to be used

Listed from easier to hardest to work with for injection molding

Material Thickness (in) Mold Type
PE 0.030-0.200 Standard
PP 0.025-0.150
TPE 0.020-0.250 Standard
PS 0.035-0.150 Standard
Acetal 0.030-0.120 High Temp
ABS 0.045-0.140 High Temp
PC 0.04-0.150 High Temp
Readiness check list for plastic parts prototype to production

There are unforeseen production costs that may reduce the profitability outcomes because whatever can go wrong will go wrong, take longer and cost more.

1 – Prepare BOM (Bill of Material)
How many parts are there? From shelf or custom made? What are the ballpark costs for each item?
2 – MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)
What are the MOQs for each item? At what quantity can you start negotiating?
3 – PO (Purchase Order)
Upfront development costs are paid before the sales come.
4 – Tooling
Which tools do you need to make production? Custom or standard tools?
5 – Quality
Understand the steps required to translate low volume production into large quantities. Each step should be described in detail to secure a quality outcome.
6 – Packaging
Consider it as a marketing and also transportation safety item to protect your products during shipping.
7 – Shipping
When the volume is enough, sign a discounted rate contract with shippers to save some money.
8 – Storage
Organize your storage based on your operational flow so that things would stay in control when the volume gets high.
9 – Others
Website development, money transaction account, accounting, space, trade shows…

Science of mold making

*There is not a "single" mold that can be used for injecting molding for "all" plastic materials. Because each plastic has its own chemical, mechanical and thermal characteristics. Therefore, each mold is unique for the material intended to be used. The gate, runner and draft angle may differ from material to material.

We work with the following companies on mold making for the APX-PIM Injection Machine.
Polyject - Brian Thibeault - 603-882-6570 -
Liberty Die Cast Molds - Ken Nicol - 740-666-7492 -
Glaze Tool - Junior Hammond - 260-466-4557 -

Please ask for a quote from Protomold, ICOmold or XcentricMold for finished plastic parts for your own design and get their feedback for your design to see if it even can be molded at all or not. Then please get back to us with your specific mold related questions so that we can reply to your questions intelligently.

Traditionally injection molds have been expensive to manufacture. Molds are typically constructed from hardened steel, pre-hardened steel, aluminum, and/or beryllium-copper alloy. Today, aluminum molds cost substantially less than steel injection molded parts. When higher grade aluminum such as QC-7 and QC-10 aircraft aluminum is used and machined with modern computerized equipment, they can be economical for molding hundreds of thousands of parts. Aluminum molds also offer quick turnaround and faster cycles because of better heat dissipation. It can also be coated for wear resistance to fiberglass reinforced materials. Today's Mold companies use CNC machining and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) in the mold manufacturing processes.

cnc machining mold

Molds consist of two primary halves, injection molds (A plate) and ejector molds (B plate). First, plastic resin enters the mold through a sprue in the injection mold. The sprue bushing is to seal tightly against the nozzle of the injection barrel of the molding machine in order to allow molten plastic to flow from the barrel into the mold, also known as cavity. The sprue bushing directs the molten plastic to the cavity images through channels that are machined into the faces of the A and B plates. These channels allow plastic to run along them, so they are referred to as runners. The amount of resin required to fill the sprue, runner and cavities of a mold is called a shot.
injection mold drawing
To properly release the part when the mold opens, the side walls of the mold are tapered in the direction that the mold opens. This tapering is referred to as "draft in the line of draw". The draft required for mold release is primarily dependent on the depth of the cavity. Injection molds are usually designed so that the molded part remains securely on the ejector side of the mold when it opens, and draws the runner and the sprue out of the other side along with the parts. The part then falls freely when ejected from the ejector side. 2-3 degrees draft is required for mold-ability of the parts. The angle should be large enough to allow to eject the part out of the mold. The corners should NOT be too sharp. Otherwise sink marks may occur.
draft angle explained for injection molding

More complex plastic parts are formed using more complex injection molds. These may have sections called slides, that move into a cavity perpendicular to the draw direction, to form overhanging or undercut part features. Some injection molds allow previously injection molded parts to be re-inserted to allow a new plastic layer to form around the first part. This is often referred to as overmolding.
plastic parts made by overmolding

Injection molds can produce several copies of the same parts in a single "shot". The number of "impressions" in the mold of that part is often incorrectly referred to as cavitation. A tool with one impression will often be called a single cavity mold. A custom mold with 2 or more cavities of the same parts will likely be referred to as multiple cavity (family) molds. When you design a mold for more than one parts (multi-cavity), the part distribution should be so balanced that each part is placed at equal distance to the sprue. That allows the mold flow smooth and consistent.
multi cavity mold
Injection molding can create injection molded parts with complex geometry that many other processes cannot. There are a few precautions when designing something that will be made using this process to reduce the risk of weak spots. First, streamline your product or keep the thickness relatively uniform. Second, try not cramming too many details into one part may cause visual defects in show surfaces or the inability to fill some of the details without sacrificing others.

Molding trial
When filling new or unfamiliar injection molds for the first time, where shot size for that mold is unknown, an injection molding company technician/tool setter usually starts with a small shot weight and fills gradually until the mold is 95 to 99% full. Once this is achieved a small amount of holding pressure will be applied and holding time increased until gate freeze off (solidification time) has occurred on the injection molded part. Gate solidification time is an important as it determines cycle time, which itself is an important issue in the economics of the production process. Holding pressure is increased until the parts are free of sinks and part weight has been achieved. Once the parts are good enough and have passed any specific criteria, a setting sheet is produced for people to follow in the future.

Runner and Gate Design
mold runner and gate design
The runner should be thick enough to carry high amount of plastics without early premature cool down. The gate should be thin enough to have a smooth plastic flow into the cavity.

Wall Thickness
importance of wall thickness in injection molding

Wall thickness and design determine if a part would have a sink or wrap after the injection molding or not. Uneven mold wall thickness is always a problem. Certain materials should also have a minimum thickness for a perfect mold-ability.

Here is the video series for Mold Making on Fusion 360:
Video 1 – How to Create a Mold
Video 3— Create Mold Base
Things go into budget for product development process

Development Costs
- Technical drawings
- Test material sourcing
- Label design tests
- Logo design tests
- Sample sourcing
- Meeting times
- Shipping

Pre-Production Costs
- Materials
- Part manufacturing
- Labels
- Logo
- Assembly
- Packaging
- Packing
- Shipping

Other Costs
- Testing
- Quality control
- Inventory
- Facilities
- Tools

Three advantages of injection molding

1 - Low scrap rates
Relative to traditional manufacturing processes like CNC machining which cut away substantial percentages of an original plastic block or sheet, scrap rates are so low. Note: waste plastic from injection molding manufacturing typically comes consistently from four areas: the sprue, the runners, the gate locations, and any overflow material called “flashing”.

2 – Repeat-ability and Accuracy
The second part you produce is going to be practically identical to the first one. This is a wonderful characteristic when trying to produce brand consistency and part reliability in production. Plastic injection molding is such a precise method that the finished product to be very precise. In fact, accuracy is typically within 0.005 inches.

3 – Wide range of material selection
Most polymers may be used for injection molding, including all thermoplastics, some thermosets, and some elastomers. One cool benefit of plastic injection molding is that fillers can be added to components during processing, reducing the density of the liquid plastic while adding enhanced strength to the finished part. Plastic injection molding is an ideal process for industries or products where parts need to be strong. This allows product designers to choose from a vast selection of materials so they can choose exactly the right properties for the injection molded parts they need.

Three cautions for injection molding

Upfront costs tend to be very high due to design, testing, and tooling requirements. If you are going to produce parts in high volumes you want to make sure you get the design right the first time. That is more complicated than you might think. Getting the design right includes:
- Initial prototype development is typically completed on a 3D printer and often in a different material (such as ABS plastic) than the final part will be constructed in
- Designing an injection mold tool for an initial production round
- Refining any and all details in the injection mold tool prior to mass-production in an injection mold manufacturing plant.

However, APSX-PIM offers the flexibility and opportunity to perform a test quickly and very close to actual production setting.
That may include using the actual material and mold design during the initial tests. Plus for low volume production industries such as medical devices, aerospace and jevelry, the APSX-PIM itself an ultimate solution and a solid replacement of conventional injection molding approach.

1 - High tooling costs and long lead times
Tooling is a huge project and only one phase of the entire injection molding process. Before you can produce an injection molded part you first have to design and prototype a part (probably via CNC or 3D printing), then you have to design and prototype a mold tool that can produce replicas of the part in volume. As you can imagine, all of the iteration required to get the tool correct prior to mass production requires both time and money.

2 - Difficult to make changes on tool
If you want to add plastic to the part you can always make the tool cavity larger by cutting away steel or aluminum. But if you are trying to take away plastic you need to decrease the size of the tool cavity by adding aluminum or metal to it.

3 - Uniform wall thickness requirement
While there are no wall thickness restrictions, the goal is usually to choose the thinnest wall possible. Thinner walls use less material which reduces cost and take less time to cool, reducing cycle time. Keeping walls from being too thick is important to prevent inconsistencies in the cooling process resulting in defects like sink marks. A good rule of thumb is to keep walls less than or equal to 4mm thick. The thicker the walls the more material you will use, the longer the cycle time will be and the higher the cost per part will be. Conversely, if wall thickness is any thinner than 1mm or so you might experience trouble filling the mold tool. Designers can compensate for this potentiality by using a material with a higher melt flow index like Nylon which is often suitable for walls as thin as 0.5mm.

4 - Financial Considerations
Entry Cost: Preparing a product for injection molded manufacturing requires a large initial investment.
Production Quantity: Determine the number of parts produced at which injection molding becomes the most cost effective and the number of parts produced at which break even on investment

5 - Design Considerations
Part Design: You want to design the part from day one with injection molding in mind. Simplifying geometry and minimizing the number of parts early on will pay dividends down the road.
Tool Design: Make sure to design the mold tool to prevent defects during production.
The main enemy of any injection molded plastic part is stress. When a plastic resin is melted in preparation for molding, the molecular bonds are temporarily broken due to the heat and force. As the molecules are pushed through each feature, they are forced to bend, turn and distort to form the shape of the part. As the material cools and the molecular bonds re-link the resin into its rigid form, these stresses are in effect locked into the part. Part stresses can cause warpage, sink marks, cracking, premature failure and other problems. You should design your parts with as much consideration for stress reduction as possible. Some ways to do this are by adding smooth transitions between features and using rounds and fillets in possible high stress areas.
The gate type and location selection are also an important factor for proper mold design. Place gates at the heaviest cross section to allow for part packing and minimize voids & sink. Be sure that stress from the gate is in an area that will not affect part function or aesthetics. Gates vary in size and shape depending upon the type of plastic being molded and the size of the part. Large parts will require larger gates to provide a bigger flow of resin to shorten the mold time. Small gates have a better appearance but take longer time to mold or may need to have higher pressure to fill correctly.

6 - Production Considerations
Cycle Time: Small changes can make a big difference and cutting a few seconds from your cycle
Assembly: Design your part to minimize assembly.

What is injection molding

Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing plastic injection molds from plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel and forced into a mold cavity, where the injection molded part cools and hardens to the configuration of the mold cavity.

Plastic injection molding is the preferred process for manufacturing plastic parts. It is most typically used in production processes where the same part is being created hundreds or thousands of times in succession. Because the full size injection molding machines and their full size molds are extremely expensive and takes long time to amortize. Injection molds are used to create many things such as electronic housings, containers, bottle caps, automotive interiors, pocket combs, and most other plastic products available today.

Why Use Injection Molding:

The principal advantage of injection molding is the ability to scale production. Once the initial costs have been paid the price per unit during injection molded manufacturing is extremely low. The price also tends to drop drastically as more parts are produced.

*Note: With a machine like APSX-PIM, the initial investment cost is so low that there is no need for high volume production to justify the initial investment.
What is metal injection molding (MIM)?

Metal injection molding (MIM) combines two well known technologies, plastic injection molding and powdered metallurgy. MIM provides perfect design flexibility than many other production processes by allowing designers to eliminate traditional constraints associated with trying to shape stainless steel, nickel iron, copper, titanium and other metals. APSX-PIM offers "injection molding" step to create the "green part". The rest of the MIM process is performed by using special equipment such as furnaces and chemical solvents.

1 - Feedstock

APSX suggests to obtain pre-packed feedstock rather than try to make it in-house since it requires extensive chemistry and metallurgy knowledge. Additionally the particle sizes are very fine about less than 15 microns to be mixed proportionally based on a special recipe. The "binder" can also contain multiple different material such as thermoplastic polymers and primary paraffin that help to achieve tight part tolerances on very small parts. Each fine metal powder particle is covered with a binder particle uniformly in a hot state to create a mixture so the feedstock pellets can be made through extrusion than granulation processes.

2 - Injection Molding - APSX-PIM

APSX-PIM can make the first stage "green part" through its standard injection molding process. However the key is the capability of custom settings that allows the user to perform this step properly. Custom settings involve injection pressure, holding pressure, holding time and fill rate to make a perfect green part. A standard-traditional large size injection molding machine may require extensive setting procedure or a small manual press can not offer the repeatibility and accuracy that APSX-PIM has. In that stage the part size is about 20% larger than the desired final part size due to shrinkage allowance. A secondary operation or a simple machining can be performed at this stage.

3 - Debinding

In this step the goal is to remove the most of the binder material out of the green part. It is a controlled step that may be a combination of chemical solvent bath and/or thermal burner process. The part is called "brown part" at the end of this step and has very little binder left in it so it very brittle.

4 - Sintering

This step completely eliminates the final binder material and gives the part its final geometry. The part gets exposed to heat in a furnace at temperatures close to its melting point. The temperature is precisely monitored based on the suggested temperature profile required. This final step is a long step that sometimes it takes 20 hours to complete. The part shrinks to its design dimensions. Final product properties are similar to those of one machined from bar stock. If necessary, post-sintering operations such as machining, heat treating, coating, and others, may be performed on the part to achieve tighter tolerances or enhanced properties.
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