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Dear Joslyn: Injection Molding vs. Thermoforming

Dear Joslyn:

Plastic Golf Tees

I’m looking for a company to manufacture plastic golf tees – in the millions. After some internet research, it looks like either thermoforming or injection molding could be an option. How do I know which is best? 

– Dr. G. Grant

Dear Dr. G. Grant:

Let’s gather some data and compare these two processes. 

Thermoforming is the process of forming a heated sheet of plastic over a mold. Once this part is removed and cooled, it’s sent on to be trimmed. Thermoforming does not allow a completely solid part to be produced in one processing step. 

Thermoforming can produce large parts, like the roof of a golf cart, and smaller parts, like a cup holder for your ice-cold Arnold Palmer. It’s also cost-efficient for smaller production runs. The tooling for thermoforming is less expensive and can be produced faster than injection molding tools. 

Injection molding is the process of filling a mold cavity and a core with molten plastic. Once it cools, the cavity opens up and the part is removed and complete. 

Injection molding is excellent for producing small, solid parts, like golf tees. It’s also cost-efficient for some large production runs. Tooling for injection molding is more expensive and has a longer lead time when compared to thermoforming.

Based on your needs, we think it’s a foregone conclusion that injection molding is your best bet.

– Joslyn Manufacturing

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