We all know when it comes to wearables and wearable technologies, size matters. So many of today's design challenges are working to fit within an already crowded form factor and is required to be as discreet as possible. How do you go about designing for these types of situations?
The process can be daunting as you begin to push the limits of your contract manufacturers and other suppliers. One of the enabling technologies, micro molding, can be a fantastic avenue as you begin this journey, but you might not have the experience. Here are a few tips to get started and how micro injection molding might be one of the enabling technologies for your next innovation.
First off, it's important to define micro injection molding. Certainly, size is a main factor but so are tolerances and micro features - just because it's small doesn't mean it's true micro molding. Micro molded components often have form factors that can be smaller than a millimeter, have tolerances of a few microns, or slightly larger parts with micro features. The bottom line is true micro molding is about small, complex, tight toleranced, thermoplastic molded components.
These are the molded parts that often help a device come together. Connectors, housings, switches, and micro optics are just a few of the categories where true micro molding has enabled some of the latest technology on the market. Micro molding can help provide a competitive advantage but how does one begin?
The primary advice we give at Accumold is to start with the ideal design. Innovation is about pushing the limits and sometimes those limits can go beyond what a textbook might say about design for injection molding. Start with your ideal design and then talk with your micro molding expert about your goals. You might find out that what you have designed isn't as crazy as you might have thought.
The second challenge is often some of the components you may need to design might go beyond the comfort level of your current manufacturing organization. You might have to navigate with your manufacturing team to help them understand why going outside for a specialized component or process like micro injection molding brings value to the project. You might get some pushback about making the designs easier but if your ultimate goal is to bring something new and innovative to the marketplace "easier" may not get you there.
The third piece of advice when starting any new micro injection molding project is to start the conversation with your molder early. Napkin sketch ideas when pushing the limits are an ideal way to begin the process so that you're able to maximize the design. Your expert micro molder can help you navigate what's possible. Understanding the relationship between material selection and the geometry your after is complex and comes after a lot of experience. Work those early concepts with your micro molder in order to come up with a good, robust design for commercialization.
Micro injection molding can be in fantastic way to bring your new innovations to market. Pushing the limits with micro-plastics can help you maximize your value in the marketplace. Micro molding is a perfect fit for wearable technology industry.
Accumold are a Silver Sponsor of Wearable Europe 2019, part of the IDTechEx Show!, taking place on 10-11 April 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Meet them on Booth I14. Find more information at www.WearableEurope.tech .