Frequently Asked Questions



How much does an injection mold cost?

Complexity of the mold, including part design, size, and number of cavities and materials used all have major impacts on the overall cost of the mold. Mold costs can range from a few thousand dollars for a simple design to tens of thousands of dollars for a complex, multi-cavity mold.

How long does it take to build a mold?

Lead times for mold design and fabrication depend on complexity of the part and availability and requirements of materials. Simple molds can be completed in a few weeks. We build our molds to last in a high production manufacturing environment and do our best to work within our customers time and budget constraints.

How long does it take to design a plastic part?

The part design timeline is dependent upon complexity of the project. A simple part can be designed in a matter of hours, while a complex part can take several weeks. The amount of in person meetings and timelines are project specific.

How much does it cost to produce a plastic part?

Part weight, size, geometry, material, volume and cavitation in the mold all have major impacts on part cost.

Are there any part size limitations?

The maximum size does depend on the mold frame and style. However, an estimate of maximum size would be 38.33” x 38.33”

Does Blackbourn have a minimum run size?

There isn’t a minimum run size. However, the lower the quantity the higher the price

What are your standard lead times?

There are many factors that impact part lead times including material availability, part volume, press availability, and packaging requirements. Typical lead time for part re-order is about 3-5 weeks. Lead time for a new tooling project is dependent upon complexity of the part and mold design.

What is the process for designing a new plastic product?

Blackbourn engineers and designers work closely with our customers to design to a part for manufacturability and often make recommendations to improve the part or the manufacturing process for existing parts. Once final part design is approved, Blackbourn builds the mold for manufacturing.

Can you produce parts in different colors?

Yes. Blackbourn can work with resin suppliers to pre color compounds or can use liquid or powder colorant for that perfect color match. Coloring processes usually project specific.

What size part runs make sense for injection molding?

Injection molding is a great process to make many plastic parts with consistency and at a low cost per part, however initial expenses (cost of the mold, setup, material costs) tend to be a significant investment. While there is no true minimum run size for a plastic part, a small run size causes the costs of setup and waste to have a much larger impact when divided amongst a smaller sampling.

What material should I use for my product?

Material selection is specific to the application of the plastic part. Blackbourn partners with multiple resin suppliers to provide guidance in selecting a material suitable for your needs. We work very closely with our customers to select resins, but ultimately our customers have final approval before proceeding.

Where do we make the plastic injection molds and plastic parts?

Right here in the USA in Edgerton, Minnesota

Does Blackbourn use biodegradable plastics?

Not at this time. Our Research and Development team is working on driving this to our product line and to market.

Does Blackbourn use recycled plastics?

Yes where it is warranted. There are certain high stress situations where recylcled plastics are not strong enough.

Can Blackbourn run an existing tool?

Yes. There may be modifications needed to allow the tool to fitt our machines. This will be made known once the tool is received and testing is done. We have successfully transferred existing tools for customers over the years.

What is Thermoforming?

Thermoforming is a generic term for the process of producing plastic parts from a flat sheet of plastic under temperature and pressure. In the highest expression of the technology, thermoforming offers close tolerances, tight specifications, and sharp detail.

How does Thermoforming work?

  • Heat a sheet of thermoplastic material
  • Once heated, place the heated sheet on a mold
  • Vacuum will either pull the heated sheet against the mold, pressurized air or a plug assist will press the sheet into the mold, or all three will be used. When the mold is removed, it will create a 3D object.
  • Once the heated, formed plastic cools and hardens, it is then removed from the mold and trimmed
  • Finished products can be painted, hot stamped, labeled, placement of an insert card, die cut, or enhanced in other ways if coloring and details were not achieved during the forming process

What are the benefits of thermoforming?

Thermoforming is efficient and very cost-effective for the production of many plastic parts depending on their size, shape, and quantity. Initial project costs are usually much lower, and lead times to tooling and production are generally much shorter than other processes. Modifications to design often times may be achieved. Temporary tooling offers an inexpensive short-term test for design issues and product market acceptance.

When and where does thermoforming fit?

Almost everything is well-suited to the thermoforming process. Tooling costs are considerably less than injection molding, which may have cost-prohibitive tooling costs. Parts with features mostly confined to one side of the part are best suited to thermoforming, but features on the uncontrolled side of the part may be addressed by trimming or fabrication and assembly.

What are average lead times when thermoforming?

Our sales and engineering team will work closely with you to understand your time constraints and do everything possible to meet your expectations.

Are there minimum quantities when it comes to thermoforming?

We don’t have a set minimum. It really depends upon the requirements of the packaging design and materials used. However, keep in mind that the larger the order, the more we can save you in per-part costs.

Do you ship thermoformed products worldwide?

Yes, we have the capability to ship worldwide. However; some countries have some packaging materials restrictions so it’s best to send us your specific shipping question(s) and packaging needs and we will get back to you with the specifics you need.

In thermoforming, I understand you can only control one side of the part during the plastic forming process. Why is this?

The side of the plastic formed against the mold can be controlled with close tolerances. The side away from the mold cannot be controlled although it can be predicted what will occur on the uncontrolled side. Tolerance requirements on the uncontrolled side are addressed by trimming or fabrication and assembly.

How thick of materials do we work with when thermoforming?

We typically deal with materials ranging in thickness from ???

What type of plastics can you thermoform?

Plastics that lend themselves best to thermoforming are: high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), high density polyethylene (HDPE), high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate modified with CHDM (PETG), and recycled polyethylene terephthalate modified with CHDM (RPETG).

How do I know which plastic material is best for my application?

Different plastic materials have different physical characteristics that make the material suitable for different applications. If you are unsure what material will work best for your particular application, we will help determine that. We have years of experience and can help you determine the best material to meet your needs. We consider the thickness of the material, finish, durability, and rigidity of the material in determining the best material to use.

What kind of cosmetic features can be achieved with thermoforming?

Sharp, crisp detail with close tolerances can be achieved. Undercuts, formed-in texture, formed-in logos, and custom colors are just a few of the many features that can be accomplished with thermoforming.

What other tooling is required in the thermoforming process?

A vacuum fixture is required when a part must be CNC trimmed. Vacuum fixtures are constructed by taking a reverse impression of the part and mounting this impression into a vacuum box. The trim fixture then holds, under vacuum pressure, each part being CNC trimmed to ensure consistent results. Other tooling specifically required in the forming, trimming, fabrication, and assembly of each part is designed by engineers and constructed by the tooling department.

What kinds of thermoforming molds does Blackbourn use?

Machined Molds - Machined molds are typically created for shallow parts with small draw ratios. We use aluminum, brass, and steel for the construction of molds, which can be held to very close tolerances. These molds are mounted on a temperature control base to control the mold temperature during the forming process. Female or male molds whether vacuum formed or pressure formed thermoformed molds can be machined aluminum molds.

Composite Molds - For prototyping and short production runs, cost-efficient composite materials are used for mold construction. These molds produce parts that are to be evaluated for fit, form, and function and may be modified to evaluate possible design changes. These molds are for vacuum-forming only and are not temperature controlled. These molds have a limited life.

How much does a thermoforming mold cost?

Complexity of the mold, including part design, size, and number of cavities and materials used all have major impacts on the overall cost of the mold. Mold costs can range from a few hundred dollars for a simple design to thousands of dollars for a complex, multi-cavity mold.

Who owns the mold after it is built

Blackbourn as we shoulder the majority of the cost associated with the design and construction of the mold as well as the continuing maintenance required.

What are your standard lead times?

For a reorder allow 3-4 weeks for in stock material. Lead time for a new tooling project is dependent upon complexity of the part, mold design, and material required.

Can you produce in different colors?

Yes.

What material should I use for my product?

Material selection is specific to the application of the plastic part. Blackbourn partners with multiple suppliers to provide guidance in selecting a material suitable for your needs. We work very closely with our customers to select materials, but ultimately our customers have final approval before proceeding.

Where are the thermoform molds and plastic parts made?

Edgerton, MN

Does Blackbourn use recyclable plastics?

Yes

Can Blackbourn run an existing tool?

Yes. Modifications may be needed to accommodate the differences in machine technology between vendors.