CASE STUDY


PLASTICS & INJECTION MOLDING

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PLASTIC INJECTION MOLDING
  • THERMOFORMING
  • MOLDED AND MACHINED PRODUCTS
  • OVER $105,000 IN TOTAL ANNUAL
    NET BENEFIT

This plastics company has been an innovator in the use of industrial plastics in new applications with roots in identifying products that could be produced using plastics. The company offers urethane casting, thermoforming, machining and plastic injection molding services. The company constantly evolves to expand its offerings into new industries and applications.

R&D QUALIFICATION

The R&D activity at this company started with a customer request. Meetings were held between the customer and their contact, whether it was the sales department or the owner to identify the design of the product, as well as the specifications, performance, and functionality requirements the product must meet. Often times, for more challenging projects, the heads of the different departments, including CNC, Fabrication, Injection Molding, Casting as well as the design engineers, and operations managers would also get involved to perform more in-depth preliminary engineering calculations.

Even if customers develop and provide a prototype of the product they prefer mass produced, technical sales and engineers to perform a detailed design for manufacturability review and would more often than not have to redesign the customer’s provided design drawings and prototypes to ensure that it is manufacturable on a large scale. This often included the development and fabrication of molds, casts, or other custom tooling needed for production purposes.

A preliminary engineering analysis was performed to determine if the product should be injection molded, fabricated or molded with urethane. This lead to the experimentation with molds and casts to determine, if flow and cure rates were consistent in order to develop a repeatable process. Qualifying activity continued with design engineers creating CAD/CAM design documents that were utilized as the basis to develop the CNC programming. In addition to developing the part and process designs, design engineers were responsible for developing custom tooling and fixtures to support the production process.

Once the part and process designs were complete, the team began producing prototypes for validation. More often than not, molds, casts, and the parts themselves went through a validation process to determine if quality,regulatory, and performance standards are met. This process was highly iterative and required numerous trials to solve all the technical issues that were a ubiquitous part of any development process.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PLASTIC INJECTION MOLDING
  • THERMOFORMING
  • MOLDED AND MACHINED PRODUCTS
  • OVER $105,000 IN TOTAL ANNUAL
    NET BENEFIT

Following the finalization of the process, the company needed to produce first articles and perform validation to determine if both the part and the production process were working properly which was also a qualified activity. The first article sample rarely produced a part that met all of their specifications. The team worked through an iterative process of optimizing the code, performing another trial run, analyzing the samples, and further refining the process multiple times before they were able to create a product that met their customer’s specifications. Once this stage was complete, multiple units were produced and the company continued to scale up production while monitoring the quality of the final product.

RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

With the complexity of their production process, and the significant investment in technology and man hours, this company depends on R&D to remain a leader in the plastic injection molding industry. Qualified research expenditures totaled nearly $900,000 in the initial study performed by Source Advisors in 2012. Through the years, the company’s areas of research and development have expanded to exceed $1.4 million equating to an annual R&D tax credit of over $105,000.