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RESEARCH PAPERS

Low Volume Plastics Manufacturing Strategies

[+] Author and Article Information
Ruchi Karania

Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854

David Kazmer

Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854daviḏkazmer@uml.edu

J. Mech. Des 129(12), 1225-1233 (Jan 31, 2007) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2790978 History: Received May 27, 2005; Revised January 31, 2007

Plastic components are vital components of many engineered products, frequently representing 20–40% of the product value. While injection molding is the most common process for economically producing complex designs in large quantities, a large initial monetary investment and extended development time are required to develop appropriate tooling. For applications with lower or unknown production quantities, designers may prefer another process that has a lower development cost and lead time albeit with higher marginal costs and production times. A methodology is presented that assists the designer to select the most appropriate manufacturing process that trades off the total production costs with production lead times. The approach is to develop aggregate component cost and lead-time models as a function of production quantity from extensive industry data for an electrical enclosure consisting of two components. Binding quotes were secured from multiple suppliers for a variety of manufacturing processes including computer numerical control machining, fused deposition modeling, selective laser sintering, vacuum casting, direct fabrication, and injection molding with soft prototype and production tooling. The methodology yields a Pareto optimal set that compares the production costs and lead times as a function of the production quantity. The results indicate that the average cost per enclosure assembly is highly sensitive to the production quantity, with average costs varying by more than a factor of 100 for production quantities varying between 100 and 10,000 assemblies. Each of the processes is competitive with respect to total production cost and total production lead time under differing conditions; a flow chart is provided as an example of a decision support tool that can be provided to assist process selection during the product development process and thereby reduce the product development time and cost.

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Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 10

Total production lead time as a function of production quantity for alternative processes

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Figure 11

Total production cost as a function of lead time for various processes and production quantities

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Figure 2

Plastics manufacturing processes’ initial and marginal costs

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Figure 3

Plastics manufacturing processes’ initial and marginal production times

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Figure 4

Electrical enclosure

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Figure 5

Electrical enclosure design

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Figure 6

Electrical enclosure lay flat for fabrication

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Figure 7

Trade-offs between initial and marginal costs

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Figure 8

Trade-offs between initial and marginal production times

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Figure 9

Total production cost as a function of production quantity for alternative processes

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Figure 12

Total production cost as a function of lead time for various processes and production quantities

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Figure 13

Flow chart for process selection

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Figure 1

Plastics manufacturing processes’ production quantities and part complexities

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