Great explanation of rapid injection molding vs traditional injection molding, in terms of how it fits into product development, via Protomold:
In the traditional approach to product development, there is a sharp line between development and production. Development begins with a light bulb over someone’s head, proceeds through napkin sketches and CAD models, and ends, ultimately, with prototypes. At one or more points in the development process there may be input from the market, be it someone’s best guesses, one or more focus groups, or actual market tests. And from start to finish there is always pressure to “get on with it,” either because you need to catch up with a market leader or because you are the leader and someone may be catching up with you. But then, when you have reached your goal—a fully developed, marketable product—everything comes to a screeching halt and the drawings and/or models disappear into the “production machine,” from which, weeks or months later, a whole lot of deliverable product appears and the rush begins again as it heads off to market.
In plastic molding, as in most other technologies, some aspects of this transition are unavoidable. Production molds are costly, and they take time to manufacture. It would be risky to begin producing them before the design had been fully proven in development, when even a small change could turn tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of molds into doorstops and boat anchors. Traditionally this has always presented manufacturers with a dilemma. They could keep development and manufacturing sequential and live with the resulting delay. Or they could treat them in parallel, starting on production molds before the end of development, cutting their time to market but running the risk of having to go back and start tool-making over again. It was a painful choice, because today’s competitive global markets reward both speed and low cost. Manufacturers already recognize that rapid injection molding as a prototyping method can reduce both cost and delay in the design of plastic parts. They are now beginning to see that it can also help reduce the post-development delay in bringing a product to market.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has thrilled us at Adafruit with its passion and dedication to making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed that our community integrating electronics projects into 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you take considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless EL Wire and LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you have a cool project you’ve made that joins the traditions of 3D printing and electronics, be sure to send it in to be featured here!