Over the past 30 years, I’ve only met a handful of people outside the manufacturing community who know anything about plastic injection molding. I’m still disappointed; why should something so indispensable to a modern lifestyle be so unknown?

Some of the comments I heard when I told people I was an injection molding company are downright comical. Usually, the funniest people are graduates; I think they have been to school for so long that they have never had time for practical things! Since I live in a university town and have many children, I have had a lot of interaction with doctors and professors. I don’t usually try to explain it, I just tell them something about engineering and industry and they nod.

Here are 10 things most people just don’t know about this interesting and essential trade.

  1. It can take well over 1000 hours to produce a typical injection mold. It always frustrates you, how could it last so long? Many jobs run well over 2000 hours. All this with a cell phone or medical device that we take for granted!
  2. Mold can cost anywhere from $ 20,000 to $ 500.00! It’s a wonder that things don’t cost more than they do! This also explains why wages do not really reflect the level of education of the employee
  3. The individual components of the form fit very closely together: generally, all pieces are within a tolerance of 0.0002 in /.005 mm. It doesn’t make much sense until you get perspective. Imagine buying a cigarette paper and dividing it in thickness. Now share it again and its thickness is 0.0002 in. It’s small!
  4. The mold maker must have a very broad knowledge and experience. Trigonometry, geometry, metallurgy, computer skills, hydraulics, electronics, needlework skills and an almost infinite amount of machining skills. It literally takes years to become familiar with many aspects of injection molding.
  5. Many mold makers graduated from a two-year technical school after high school. This is only to get them employed as trainees. The normal practical training shall last at least 3 years in the mold company. It is a rather intense learning period, after which it becomes a journey. This means you are supposed to know everything best, but really enough to get into a lot of trouble! A lot of concentrated effort is needed to truly acquire the skills required.
  6. The smartest person you’ll ever meet is working as a mold maker. Some of these guys are doing things like building airplanes in their spare time. The nature of commerce is inventive, so if you have some free time, you can be sure that most guys will be busy making solar or river powered generators, racing car engines or building wood-frame house by hand.
  7. The typical mold maker does 10 hours a day, usually 5 hours on Saturdays. Despite the fact that a Chinese trader will do about the same for about $ 2 an hour, there is still tremendous work going on in some markets, such as the medical market.
  8. Injection molding is incredibly global. It is normal to use tools and parts from the US, Europe, and Japan. It is very remarkable that you can use a machine made in Switzerland, a tool made in Sweden, a machine made in Japan or Korea, steel made in the United States, and it all works very well.
  9. Mold making has never been a successful union. This is unlikely in the future. Most mold manufacturers are extremely independent and not least interested in the Union. This is a good thing for the consumer, otherwise, plastic items would be much more expensive! I once worked for a trade union, but that was only in his name; primarily to get a job from an aircraft manufacturer.
  10. Mold makers are the people who stop helping if there is a flat tire on the highway. Not only that, if there was no jack, they would be given theirs! Next time I make something from plastic, thank you for the injection molding machine!