The Benefits of Standard Injection Molding Machinery
When choosing an injection molding machine, manufacturers are generally faced with two different options: standard machinery and custom, high-performance machinery. While there are many applications that absolutely require specialized configurations (such as micro-manufacturing), standard machinery can fit the requirements of most manufacturers.
If you can produce your parts on a standard machine, here’s why you should look hard at going in this direction before moving in the direction of either high-performance or specialized equipment:
Standard Machines: More Economical at Time of Purchase - Lower Cost Upfront
Built to custom specifications with intensive R&D and custom manufactured components, specialized, high-performance machinery have significantly longer lead times and heftier price-tags. On the flipside, standard machines that are made in large quantities can be more efficiently produced. Their standard components can be purchased in large volumes at favorable pricing, and their development cost is spread out over many units. Each of these points work in favor of the manufacturer by driving new machinery prices down, and we all know what lower prices mean: faster return on investment, and more financial flexibility for your company.
Standard Machines: Easier Service & Lower Cost in the Long Run
Standard machines are easier to support for many reasons. In short, common parts and repair procedures allow for faster diagnosis and repair. Since standard machines are more common in the industry, service technicians are therefore more familiar and experienced with them, thus making repairs generally quick and simple. In contrast, highly customized machines have unique configurations that require more specialized technicians, which is usually more costly and result in a longer service response time.
A larger installed base of standard machines also means that service experience can be factored back into product development, design, and manufacturing process. This leads to better upgrades and improved products over time. For the manufacturers worried about service, parts and unexpected downtime issues, a standard machine will be the ideal option.
Standard Machines: Retain Value Better for Resale and Production
Alongside Absolute Haitian, we operate Absolute Machinery – one of the largest buyers, brokers, and sellers of used injection molding equipment in North America. Throughout the 20+ years of used machine sales, auctions and appraisals, Absolute Machinery has developed a database of thousands of injection molding machinery values. This paired with the statistical data of new machine sales from the Plastics Industry Association gives us a uniquely accurate view of which types of machines retain their value. Our data shows the year-over-year value of highly custom molding machines drops significantly when compared to a standard machine. This is because custom machines often cannot be applied to a broad range of applications, which means the overall demand for these machines in the used machinery market is generally low.
A common example of this is with multi-component (multi-shot) applications. Many manufacturers order these multi-component machines for a specific mold/process without considering if another application or molder will be able to utilize the machine in the future.
Example: 400 Ton 2-Shot Application, PP and TPE, Mold is Not Built Yet
Option 1: Multi-component machine configuration with integrated Piggie-back injection unit
Option 2: Standard single shot machine with external “L” add-on injection unit with an independent control
Option 2 allows the customer to use or sell the press as a standard single shot machine and an external injection unit that can be sold separately with its own control unit. With Option 1 the customer will have a difficult time reselling, due to a small percentage of molders utilizing that configuration.
Another extreme example of this was a specialized injection molding machine designed to insert long fiber material into the melt. This machine, which was purchased new for nearly $1,000,000 could only be sold for $25,000 on the used market. When specialized molding equipment is purchased to meet a project requirement, the financial risk exposure is high if the project does not evolve as planned and the production volumes remain low.
It can be exciting to have a high performance machine capable of running at a 2.5 second cycle (like owning a Buggati) and sometimes it's necessary to have one. But there are also many benefits to starting from a standard machine platform. Often the costs and financial risks of choosing high performance or specialized machinery are hidden and left undiscussed in the sales process. We want manufacturers to be aware of the risks of over-specifying equipment, and to weigh all options prior to committing to this direction.
If you're weighing machinery options and want to discuss what we've seen work well with our customers, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 508-459-5372.