Urethane Casting Makes Sense for Production
The urethane casting process has been used for rapid prototyping for many years to produce high quality parts cost-effectively. TTH often uses urethane casting to create prototypes of parts that will eventually be injection-molded. Many urethane casting customers do not realize that the process also offers a great way to make production parts. For example, one TTH customer, for whom we make a front housing for a robotic hospital cart, orders a small quantity of molded parts each month.
This customer has some good reasons for choosing cast urethane for these production parts:
- Lower Upfront Investment on Tooling: The cost of tooling for making cast urethane parts is much less expensive than the tooling for an injection-molded part. An injection mold for this customer’s part would cost $80,000 or more; the tooling to cast this part from urethane is just $1,500. (Another option customers can take advantage of is amortizing tooling costs over the piece price.)
- Ease of Making Changes: The urethane casting process and the relatively inexpensive tooling involved makes it easy and economical to make most necessary changes.
- Faster Turnaround: Cast urethane parts can be produced quickly, so TTH can typically deliver in one to two weeks. In contrast, injection-molded parts typically involve an eight-to-ten week turnaround time.
- Good Looks that Last: Just like in injection molding, cast urethane parts can be custom colored, textured, and/or painted. That means cast urethane parts will continue looking nice, even if they become scratched or otherwise damaged.
It’s important to understand that a cast urethane mold has a much shorter life expectancy than an injection mold. Whereas an injection mold can produce hundreds of thousands of parts, a cast urethane mold can produce a limited number of parts based on material and design of the part. However, for building products that only require a handful of parts each month, it would take a long time to realize the return on investment of switching to injection molding.
Cast urethane parts cost more per piece than injection-molded parts, partly because urethane casting is a more labor-intensive process. Despite the higher piece price, this customer has saved money overall by avoiding the higher upfront tooling costs associated with injection molding. As a result, they have been able to put the capital they saved to better use elsewhere.
If you need production parts manufactured, consider the advantages cast urethanes offer. Call TTH to explore whether or not a cast urethane alternative makes sense for your project.