What are the advantages of working with Protoshop over other prototype mold fabrication and molding services?

Our primary advantages are:

  1. Superior mold quality. Our prototype molds are temperature controlled and we use steel for all stressed portions of the mold in order to more closely replicate production molding quality.
  2. Moldability design review. Let our experts help ensure your project is a success.
  3. No geometry limitations. If you’ve been rejected from other molders or been told that it’s not possible then give us a try. We’re experienced at stretching the limits of molding and we’re not afraid of a challenge.
  4. Rapid mold iterations. Our background is product development so we know the importance of mold iterations. Our molds are intended to be iterated quickly, typically in 1-2 days.

What are Protoshop’s dimensional constraints for molding?

Protoshop can currently mold parts up to 8” x 6” x 6” with a volume up to 6 oz.

How long does it take to receive a quote?

Our goal is to provide a quote within 4 hours.

How long does it typically take for Protoshop to complete prototype molds?

It typically takes 3-5 days for us to design and fabricate a mold. More complex molds will require additional time, of course. It then takes one day for setting the molding process, molding first article parts, and measuring critical dimensions.

Once I have a mold fabricated and place a request for molded parts, how long does it take to mold parts?

Our goal is to mold parts within 24 hours of receiving a molding request.

How many parts can be molded from a single cavity prototype mold per day?

We can typically mold 500-600 ea parts per day or 2,500 – 3,000 ea per week, depending on the cycle time of the mold.

What is the typical tolerance that your prototype molds can hold?

That is a complex question that is depends on the size of the feature being measured and the material used. Assuming using a semi-crystalline material and a molded part less than 6”, our goal is for all features to be within 0.004” (0.1 mm). Larger parts would require a large tolerance. Assuming a semi-crystalline material and a molded part less than 2”, our goal is for all features to be within 0.002” (0.05 mm).

What is the typical repeatability of your prototype molds?

There are several factors that allow us to have very consistent repeatability:

  1. These are single cavity prototype molds, there are no issues of consistency across multiple cavities.
  2. Our molds are temperature controlled like production molds which improves repeatability.
  3. We mold parts in an environmentally controlled room which significantly improves repeatability.
  4. We only use Arburg molding machines which are very high quality machines capable of very consistent molding cycles.

Repeatability is therefore typically within 0.001”. If a certain dimension needs to hold a tolerance of 0.001”, we can modify the mold for any critical feature to nominal and hold a very tight 0.001” tolerance as needed.

When is the best time to use prototype injection molded parts in product development?

We have a background in product development so we know better than most about when prototype molding should be used. Before starting prototype molding rapid prototypes such as SLA should be used due to the quick iteration and low cost. Ideally 80-90% of mechanical function can be demonstrated using rapid prototypes before proceeding with prototype molding. However, there are times when rapid prototypes do not adequately replicate the mechanical performance of molded parts and it is necessary to proceed directly to prototype molds.

What are the benefits of using prototype injection molded parts in product development?

Rapid prototypes and machined parts are an invaluable part of the product development process, but have the drawback that they do not fully replicate the mechanical properties of injection molded parts due to material limitations. By fabricating prototype molds, issues can be identified early in the product development process and resolved well before product release. Often, fabricating a prototype mold can be just as fast with similar cost as rapid prototypes or machined parts but with superior testing capability.

Is an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement required?

It’s not required but recommended if your part is proprietary. We are happy to sign your NDA or we have a NDA template we can offer.

Does Protoshop offer inspection services?

Yes, we always inspect first articles and each molding order per our normal procedure that ensure we only ship quality product but we are happy to increase the number of dimensions inspected or the number of parts to meet your needs.

Can Protoshop help me to create a drawing?

Yes, we’ll schedule a quick phone call where we will ask you to define which features are critical for inspection and the tolerance that should be applied to each one.

What is the maximum and minimum molding order quantity?

There is no minimum order quantity but it generally makes financial sense to mold at least 100 ea parts due to the time it takes to setup the mold.

The maximum quantity is determined by the quantity of parts that can be molded per hour.  Single cavity prototype molds typically yield 30-60 parts per hour depending on part complexity.  Protoshop runs two shifts per day so the maximum part yield would be on the order of 2,400 – 4,800 ea per week.

Do you provide a sample after mold fabrication is completed?

Protoshop’s mold fabrication quote includes a sampling of 25 ea parts. From those parts, 3 ea are selected at random and 3 ea dimensions are inspected to confirm part accuracy. The 3 parts/3 dimension inspection is standard and provided free of charge. Optionally, additional parts and/or dimensions may be requested during quoting.