There are many things to consider when looking at rotational molders for your plastic product. Greg Stout and his company, Blue Reed, specialize in plastic rotational molding and not only does he specialize in design, but he specializes in engineering as well and has for over 25 years. Here are four things to take into consideration when selecting a rotational molder.
1. Identify rotational molders by the size of their equipment
First thing first, you have to know the size of the mold so the molder will know if his/her molding machines will be big enough to mold your parts individually on an arm or if the mold is small enough that it could be put on a grate mount and run with other non-related molds or if they can’t run the mold at all. This is important to know because if the part is run by itself on one arm, the costing of running the machine’s arm is fully put on that part. If you have a part that has a resin that has a very tight processing window, this will have to be done anyway so the full properties of the resin can be realized and the full attention of the operator is on your mold. If your part isn’t as critical, you can take advantage of the split cost of the machine time among several other molds of having it run on a grate, that way it can save you money in the long run without compromising the quality of your design. Rotation molding can be flexible in these situations and the cost advantages should be taken advantage of if possible. Saving money is a key priority.
2. Geographic location
Geographic location is something that needs to be looked at since generally, rotationally molded parts are large. You want rotational molders near you if you are shipping the parts from your facility. If you can avoid it, you don’t want to have to ship the parts twice, from the manufacturer to you and then from you to the customer. If, however, you are having the molder package the part and they are drop shipping from the rotational molders facility, that issue is no longer the case. You could be located in California, but have a selection of rotational molders in the Midwest make more sense if the majority of your customers are east of the Mississippi, for example. Not all rotational molders offer the same service. Try to find rotational molders that cater to your needs are close to the majority of your client base. You also need to know if your molder will do assembly if your molded part is part of a larger assembly. You could have the manufacturer assemble it right there in their plant that way shipping is not delayed or made more confusing than it has to be.
3. Qualify rotational molders by quality and ability to hold tolerances
The next area to look at is quality. Make sure the company caters to you and your client’s needs. Make sure they held up to your standards and they produce a product that you will be proud to deliver to your customers. Along with quality you may also lump in ability to hold tolerances. Rotational molders should have an inspection department that can okay the shipment of parts. Some of these inspection departments will have Faro arms to inspect the parts to make sure features, overall dimensions and the dimensions specific things like threaded inserts are in the correct location. You will need to know they can match up with whatever they need to match up with. Not all rotational molders are able to generate an inspection report and if that is vital to the part you are having molded, you need to know that up front. It is better to be safe than sorry.
4. Cheapest is not always the best
After you have the answers to many or all of these areas, you have to get quotations and you should probably get more than one quote. Normally, you will find the quotes are in a narrow range of price. If they aren’t, it’s either because someone missed something or someone is just charging too much. Going with the lowest price is often not the way to go. Part quality can vary from rotational molder to rotational molder. Not everyone is held up to the same standards that we like to see at Blue Reed. You have to make sure you are getting everything you need. Quality can vary greatly from molder to molder. You own the mold, so you can take it to where you need to have it run, but you have to do your due diligence.
Take a look at the list of molders that Stout has on his website. Those are molders he has worked with for years and trusts. If you find one that isn’t on the list, call Stout to see if they check out. It doesn’t mean they are bad rotational molders either. It just means he hasn’t worked with them yet. Blue Reed wants you to get the best possible product for your own personal design and style. Don’t settle. It never hurts to do your research.