Companies Partner to Combine Additive Manufacturing and Injection Molding Expertise to Address Supply Chain ChallengesJuly 16, 2020 by Ben Stepanian
Rapid Application Group and Gavco injection molding have partnered to accelerate manufacturing processes in a new and innovative way.
In recent years, rapid prototype manufacturing has helped fill in the increasing demand in manufacturing that other methods could not. Gavco plastic, a company with over 165 years of manufacturing experience will now integrate 3D printing technology into their manufacturing processes, with the help of Rapid Application Group.
Injection molding has always been a popular choice for mass production. However, most of the preliminary development time for producing the product comes from creating the tooling.
Stereolithographically produced plastic manifold. Image courtesy of Rapid Application Group (RAG).
With the use of rapid prototyping, iterations of the part being produced can be created in a fraction of the time and cost, to help develop the tooling and to fill in the supply for when the tooling is being created.
COVID-19 Impact on Industry
As the virus continues its spread around the world and affects U.S. industries, new methods are being developed to sustain volume output in an environment that is under sudden restrictions. Limited staffing issues resulted in a shortage of supplies that the injection mold process could not keep up with by itself. Using additive manufacturing reduces the turnaround time and can meet the same standards that injection molding requires.
Last year, Rapid Application Group (RAG) opened a new 15,000 square foot production facility to manufacture prototypes and parts used in the industry. Gavco has utilized additive manufacturing through this partnership that will give the industries they serve the ability to quickly respond to demand and iterations needed in technology. These industries include aerospace, automotive, environmental, food, and medical.
Rapid Application Group facility. Image courtesy of Rapid Application Group (RAG).
Skepticism over the quality of 3D printed parts has existed since the manufacturing process debuted in the 1980s. However, recent advancements in this technology in the last decade have surprised engineers and inspired them to be innovative in the industry.
Rapid Application Group understands where additive manufacturing can be utilized, where an injection molding could not. Complex geometries can be manufactured easily without the need for a multi-step process that molding of the part may require.
Supply Chain Strain
Due to COVID-19, as well as the increasing demand in industry, supply chains are directly affected and suppliers cant put out enough volume.
“This year has shown how fragile supply chains can be and it is time for new innovation in how parts are produced,” said Randall Gavlik, Gavco Plastics. “This partnership with RAG means we can help customers regain balance in their supply chains while maintaining agility and responsiveness to economic conditions.”
As additive manufacturing makes its way to render other processes, it isn’t putting out the volume that injection molding is.
Additive manufacturing is meeting an output demand that injection molding is not able to meet. Processes like SLS and SLA printing are used to keep part supplies stocked while also meeting the requirements for the part to function properly. Another advantage that additive manufacturing does have over injection molding is its variability and speed in producing different parts with only a few clicks on the computer program. This means less downtime for a production process while tooling is being made.
Gavco and RAG
With this partnership, these two companies are on course to making Oklahoma one of the major centers for manufacturing. “Gavco Plastics, like RAG, is part of the Oklahoma State effort to become one of the US’ top 10 states in GDP. This kind of partnership will help make the state one of the most responsive hubs for manufacturing OEMs,” said Terry Hill, CEO, Rapid Application Group.
“The flexibility this brings to our hundreds of customers is important to our customers who need to rethink how parts are produced when they are produced and how to protect their supply chains.”
You can visit Gavco's website to find out more about their parts, services data, capabilities, and more.