When it comes to defining micromolding, size is not everything, but it is a good place to start. It starts with a part that has features you cannot see with the naked eye. You need a microscope to see the feature(s) and the fine detail.
A precise mold is the first building block to any successful micromolding project. The smaller parts get, the more difficult this becomes – there’s less error that can be tolerated in a mold.
“The 1-Inch Rule”
The high majority of micromolding applies to parts that fit into the 1” footprint, where a small percentage are parts that have a need for precision but may fall outside of that 1” box.
- Does your design have wall stocks in the range of .002″ to .004″?
- Does it have aspect ratios in the range of 250:1?
- Is your part weight so low that you can make 520 parts from a single pellet of plastic?
All of these features can be accomplished with micromolding and are generally recognized by the industry as being micro and requiring specialized tools.
Something to remember is that a part does not need to be microscopic to be considered a micro part. This has been proven to be one of the greatest myths of the micromolding industry.
In many instances, micro features on a part you can see with the naked eye require more specialized tools and techniques than what’s required to create a microscopic part with simple geometry. Some of the most difficult parts to manufacture are larger parts with micro features.
6 Sciences of Micromolding
- Micro Materials – Thorough knowledge of the material, whether it be Polypropylene, PEEK or a Resorbable material, is absolutely essential to success.
- Micro Design – Understanding and knowing what can be tooled up vs. what can be manufactured in production volume is the key to being successful. In a simple word: “reproducibility”.
- Micro Tooling – In-house micro tooling helps clients who are seeking high resolution features as devices and components are miniaturized. The mold is definitely the enabler to produce highly unique and precise components.
- Micro Molding – Micromolding is not molding small parts with macro-molding techniques and tools.
- Micro Metrology – Microsized parts do not lend themselves to “touching”, whether by a probe or by hand, so all measurements must be made by highly sensitive optical systems.
- Micro Packaging – Similar to metrology, handling and assembling or packaging micro-sized parts is far more challenging, and the solutions are definitely different than those employed in making macro-sized parts.