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Thread: I want to manufacture a simple plastic product, how to get started

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Sep 2017

    I want to manufacture a simple plastic product, how to get started

    Hi everyone,

    I hope this is the right forum to ask. If not please let me know where is a better place.

    I want to manufacture a new type of nock (the thing that holds arrows onto bow strings). It's basically just a piece of plastic that is inserted into the back of the arrow, with a pincer shape on the back. No moving parts.

    However I'm a software guy by trade, and have no experience with plastic molding etc.

    So I have the following questions, if anyone could be so kind:

    - What is the standard file format that manufacturers receive and use for plastic items?
    - Also what software is used to make that?
    - What are some good starting learning resources on how to design plastic items (model/structure and also material selection)?
    - How would I find someone who would manufacture a prototype for me? I'm thinking just to mass email any local manufacturer listed in google, with a rough picture of what I want for quote purposes, and see who replies back. But I'm worried they'll just ignore me if I don't sound like I know what I'm talking about.


  2. #2
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Sounds like a perfect application for a small desktop 3D printer. I would recommend you invest one and the software required to create designs for it. You will learn A LOT about how these things are done. Plus you would be able to develop and refine the shape of your prototype at very low cost. I know of 3D printer kits you can get for less than $500. One source is Once you've finished massaging and adjusting your design you can approach professionals in the molding industry on how to proceed.

    I will leave it to others on this forum with more experience in the world of injection molded plastics to answer other questions.

  3. #3
    Principle Engineer
    Join Date
    May 2015
    There are several file formats that are transferable across different CAD systems. These include IGES STEP and the AutoCAD formats of DXF and DWG. For 3D printing the .STL file format is customary.

    3D printing is an excellent way to obtain a prototype. You might be able to find a library or local technical college that has one you can use. Use ABS for outdoor applications. Having built a printer from a kit, I would suggest you avoid that process and offer about $5 for a prototype from some 3D printing enthusiast.

    3D printing is not a good production method for a small part. For production you'll want to injection mold the plastic. Your big expense will be tooling. Making the mold in as few pieces saves money.

    So aim for a design that has only two parts. A so called open and shut mold. There is probably a small "Mom and Pop" plastics company near you that can handle the job and get you connected to a tool maker.

  4. #4
    Technical Fellow Kelly_Bramble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Bold Springs, GA
    jboggs and Hudson ....
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

  5. #5
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Thanks all, yes it occurred to me after some searching that a 3D printer would be the easiest way to make a prototype. Actually there are some "3D printing cafes" near me so I can just go there and make some prototypes. Once I've got one I like I'll look into injection molding. Thanks for the advice of using ABS, seems a good enough material for the job.

  6. #6
    Plastic products manufacturing plants can be different as the various types of plastic parts processing. The plastic products are surrounding us, they play a very important role in our daily lives, and most of them are made by the technology of injection moulding. Thus, I make the plastic injection molding plant as an example, to show the profile for steps of setup plastics manufacturing factory, which is from our expert business as well.

    Some Steps for Starting a Plastic Manufacturing Business.

    1. Confirm your Desired Product: There is a great deal of plastic products, and profitable market is the key reason why you will choose one or some of them, so it needs you to do much research to find the best one to as a start. Then if you are new in plastic industry, the quickest way to check the details of your products is making confirmation with all potential suppliers about production specification.

    2. Confirm your Budget: It must be affordable to start your factory by all investment you could get. Your budget will make how your factory would be. Because It will spend much money on all things to setup and run the factory: factory floor, equipment required (plastic injection mould, plastic injection moulding machine and other necessary machinery and tools), labor, the raw plastic required to make the product, marketing…

    3. Confirm the Project Solution: Find the reliable suppliers to get the solution for your product production. This can be time-costing for finding and communication, but the quickest way for learning. During this term, it’s better for telling details and requirement for your product, such as the basic info of product (plastic types, item structure, size, weight…), the requirement (such as the practicability and aesthetics, production capacity…), the budget and the factory situation. Then you could get a better solution that most of the equipment required with the primary cost.

    4. Confirm the Factory Purchasing or Building: Based on the solution you get, you will know well how much factory floor space is needed, so you can check the land or building you have and to start the related work.

    5. Confirm the Plastic Material Supplier: Contact plastic suppliers and choosing the best companies for all sides to cooperate. It is important to ensure the stable suppliers and the safety store. And note that a low bid won't do any good if the supplier could not meet the requirement for the volume or the quality.

    Usually, when it comes to step 4 or 5, the equipment purchasing and being manufactured is ongoing at the same time.

    6. Confirm the Product: It would be smooth if do well in step 1 and 3, because the product must be well recognized in advance, as the saying goes: 5 minutes in front of computer equal 5 weeks in workshop.

    Now regardless of the previous work, at this time, ensure the product is what you want, then you can plan for the factory running and marketing.

    7. Confirm the Factory Running: It is an ending but also a start.

    After all equipment installed well in your factory, make them work well: installment, testing, production, maintenance in daily working. And be ready for any problems would your suppliers, which would require the complete and prompt support from your suppliers.

    I hope this will help you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2021
    instruction sounds interesting. Better to do it on some small manufactures

  8. #8
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Oct 2022
    Before going for manufacturing product have you decided what kind of product do you want to design. If you have decided then the next step is simple because in this way plastics prototype will help you. plastic prototype package is made for anyone that want to hold their design idea in their own hands.

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