Over the last couple of weeks I have been toying around with the Form 1+ and my manual injection molding machine (IASCO 66M). This is because from the very beginning of my project/blog I wanted to find out if with my limited manufacturing knowledge and my shoe string budget I would ever be able to bring injection molded weapons for Playmobil figures to life.
On my journey I have
– visited local injection molders (their offer was 15.000 Euro for a 6 cavity mold)
– had talks with specialized companies at Euromold (they first pushed back on my request due to the nature of weapon production and finally their 4 cavity mold offer was around 7.500 Euro)
– requested quotes from Protomold (their quote for the 2 cavity mold was 3.700 Euro)
All of this was unsatisfactory because the initial payments that needed to be made were a lot bigger than my tiny budget and the costs per unit only came down to 1 Euro per part if I ordered 1.000 units in one production run. Not quite what I had dreamed of.
But my experiments with a couple of 3D printers over time brought me closer to the final goal of having injection molded products in my hands (and time was on my side as well as time drove down the costs of prosumer printers heavily). When Stratasys showed their first Digital ABS which was able to produce plastic spoons in a professional injection molding machine I knew my time would come.
With all the knowledge gathered and all frustrations I have had during my project today I can announce that I have accomplished the first major milestone in my project.
I have managed to INJECTION MOLD a Playmobil-sized sword with a simple 3D printed mold from my Form 1+!!
Potentially the worlds first sword/product of its kind 🙂
The credit for the sword belongs to the people behind Modibot by the way. I only scaled it down for my purposes.
With this I have proven that anyone with time, willingness and some frustration intake can go from the idea to an semi-professional product without the involvement of exorbitantly high costs. From my point of view manufacturing of a product can now be similar to CTP (computer-to-plate) magazine publishing.
To understand and manage the injection process it took me 4 tries – each one producing better results
Only the injected material Polypropylen is not sturdy enough and a lot more flexible than ABS. But on the other hand PP is easy to inject at temperatures of around 550 degrees Fahrenheit (290 Celsius).
Now I need to find a way to get ABS pellets and how to increase the heat in my injection machine. As I said the first major milestone is reached!!! My journey continues (and I have some surprises for new weapons for you… 🙂 )