Material Manufacturing and Expertise at PDS

Productive Design Services has provided guidance on projects for multiple iterations of material selection and design for manufacturing expertise. 

Selecting the right plastic material for manufacturing is a crucial step in the product development process. The choice of material impacts not only the product’s performance but also factors such as cost, durability, and environmental impact. Here are guidelines to help you make an informed decision when selecting a plastic material for manufacturing:

Define Your Requirements:

  • Clearly define the specific requirements for your application, such as mechanical strength, temperature resistance, UV stability, and chemical resistance.

Consider Functional Properties:

  • Evaluate the intended function of the part, including load-bearing capacity, flexibility, and electrical conductivity, to determine the required material properties.

Review Environmental Conditions:

  • Understand the operating environment, including temperature extremes, exposure to chemicals, moisture, and UV radiation, as these factors can affect material selection.

Assess Regulatory Compliance:

  • Ensure that the chosen material complies with industry-specific standards and regulations, such as FDA approval for food-contact applications.

Cost Analysis:

  • Evaluate the overall cost of the material, which includes raw material cost, processing costs, and potential tooling expenses. Consider factors like recycling and waste disposal.

Material Availability:

  • Ensure that the selected material is readily available in the quantities and forms required for your manufacturing process.

Material Compatibility:

  • Verify that the material is compatible with the manufacturing process you plan to use (e.g., injection molding, extrusion) and that it can be processed without complications.

Recyclability and Sustainability:

  • Assess whether the material aligns with your sustainability goals and is recyclable or can be sourced from renewable resources.

Material Testing:

  • Conduct material testing, such as tensile strength, impact resistance, and fatigue testing, to ensure it meets the required performance standards.

Consider Long-Term Durability:

  • Factor in the expected lifespan of the product and whether the chosen material can withstand wear and tear over time.

Supplier Reliability:

  • Work with reputable suppliers who can provide consistent material quality and technical support.

Sample and Prototype Testing:

  • Create prototypes and test samples to verify that the selected material behaves as expected in real-world conditions.

Material Documentation:

  • Ensure you have access to comprehensive material data sheets and technical information from the supplier.

Backup Materials:

  • Consider having alternative material options in case your primary choice faces availability issues or unexpected price fluctuations.

Environmental Impact:

  • Assess the environmental impact of the material, including its carbon footprint and ease of recycling or disposal.

By following these guidelines and consulting with material experts, you can make an informed choice when selecting a plastic material for manufacturing, ultimately leading to a successful and cost-effective production process while meeting your product’s performance requirements.

PDS has additional capabilities to simulate multiple material options with FEA software. This provides:

  1. Performance Prediction: These tools enable engineers to simulate how different materials will perform in specific applications, allowing for the prediction of factors like strength, durability, thermal conductivity, and electrical properties.
  2. Cost Reduction: By virtually testing materials through simulations, the need for expensive physical prototypes is reduced, leading to cost savings in the design and testing phases.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Simulations can help identify potential material weaknesses or failure points, allowing engineers to select materials that minimize risk in real-world applications.
  4. Optimization: Engineers can use simulations to fine-tune material selection by assessing how variations in material properties impact overall product performance.
  5. Environmental Impact Assessment: Simulation tools can evaluate the environmental impact of material choices, such as assessing carbon footprints and recyclability, aiding in sustainable material selection.
  6. Accelerated Design Process: By quickly evaluating a wide range of material options, simulation tools expedite the design process, enabling faster product development and time-to-market.
  7. Iterative Design: Engineers can easily iterate on material selection, making adjustments based on simulation results, leading to more informed decisions.
  8. Resource Efficiency: Simulation tools help in selecting materials that minimize resource use and waste, aligning with sustainability and resource efficiency goals.
  9. Cross-Functional Collaboration: These tools facilitate collaboration between different teams (e.g., materials scientists, design engineers, and manufacturers) by providing a common platform for material assessment.
  10. Data-Driven Decisions: Simulation results provide data-driven insights into material properties, helping engineers make informed choices that meet project requirements.

Simulation tools play a pivotal role in material selection by providing a comprehensive understanding of how different materials will perform in specific applications. This results in more cost-effective, efficient, and optimized material choices, ultimately contributing to the success of product development.