How Much Does a Plastic Mold Cost?

How much does a plastic mold cost?

Plastic injection molding is such a dynamic and powerful manufacturing technology that the question isn’t how much does a plastic mold cost—it’s how much does a plastic mold cost that achieves your unique goals?

Your desired production volume, the size of your part, the level of precision you need, and the material you choose will all affect the cost of your mold and the final unit cost of your part. And so, while there’s not one straightforward answer to how much a mold will cost you, we can help you think through some of the questions you’ll have to answer as you design your mold.

How Complex Does Your Design Need to Be?

It goes without saying: the more complex your final part, the more it will cost to manufacture. A simple design may cost no more than $10,000, but intricate molds may cost you hundreds of thousands.

Fortunately, talented DFM engineers can help you optimize your design to achieve all the functionality you require with as simple (and affordable) a mold as possible. To do so, the engineers will primarily optimize your design along these five components.

1. Parting Line Placement

Plastic injection molding involves forcing material into two halves of a mold—the cavity and the core—and so a seam, or “parting line,” is inevitable. Placing these lines on curved or complex surfaces will dramatically increase your costs, so a skilled engineer will help you find the optimal place to put them.

2. Smooth Core Extraction

After your material is injected, the core must be extracted before you can remove each part from its respective cavity. It’s therefore crucial to eliminate undercuts, protrusions, and other complications in your design that can obstruct or even prevent a smooth core removal.

3. Cavity Depth

The deeper your cavities, the larger and more complex your mold will also have to be. Fortunately, the proper orientation and design of each cavity can sometimes yield the parts you need with less depth—and therefore at less total cost.

4. Moving Steel Shut-Offs

With shut-offs in your mold, you can create more complex parts without post-injection machining. These shut-offs increase short-run costs, but, since they also reduce the wear on the mold, may save you money in the long run.

5. Gate Locations

The bigger the gate, the more it can stress and distort your mold. It’s therefore critical to carefully calibrate the gates so that they are as small as possible while still permitting your material to fill the mold before hardening.

What Manufacturing Volume and Timeline Do You Need?

As if all the preceding design elements aren’t enough to consider, you also have to factor in your timeline and your production target when designing your mold.

If speed is important to you, you might want to reduce cycle times with the addition of a complex cooling system. This added cost will make sense if you need to do many runs in a short period of time. A similar calculation must be made about the number of cavities you choose for your mold. The greater the number of cavities, the higher your upfront costs—and the more parts you’ll have in a short period of time.

Your production volume should also influence your decision about how complex—and how costly—a mold you want to design. Heated runners, sprues, and valve gates will all make your mold more expensive—but also reduce the material you waste with each run, savings that will add up in a long production run. An engineer can help you do the cost-benefit analysis of each design component.

What Material Will Achieve Your Goals at the Lowest Cost?

Again, it’s important to remember that there’s not one single material that’s the best for injection molding—there’s only the material that’s best for you. To figure out which material that is, you have to be as clear as possible about your goals, your objectives, and your constraints from the start.

That’s because your choice of material will affect other design decisions you need to make. Certain materials require specific heating or cooling processes to accompany the injection, which can dramatically influence the optimal mold design. So, if you want to make the most of one of these materials, you need to incorporate the material’s constraints into your mold design from step one.

Ready to leverage the full power of plastic injection manufacturing by optimizing your design? Talk to one of SigmaPro’s engineers today! Together, we’ll get you the mold—and, more importantly, the part—you need with no stress and no wasted cost.

All too often, American patients are receiving substandard treatment when they are at their most vulnerable: more than half of IV medication is administered incorrectly, and more than half of those errors result from poor labeling. These errors can be fatal. Compounding the problem, many clinicians have reported that poor labeling has kept them from responding quickly enough to save a patient in crisis. These deaths are not the fault of poorly trained clinicians but inadequate technology. All infusion therapy lines look alike, and no effective IV-line identification system has been established.

That’s why Sāfen Medical developed a new tagging system to solve this problem and bring better care to patients nationwide. To do so, they leveraged the power of medical plastic molding in collaboration with SigmaPro.

Here’s how.


Sāfen designed an IV line communication system that uses shape, color, icon and haptics. The tag shape and color indicates drug category: e.g. the triangles indicate ISMP (Institute for Safe Medical Practice) High Alert Medications. Each tag also has an icon and word on its front to communicate the line’s type of contents (“Opioid”), and room on the back for specifics (“fentanyl”). These features make it easy for a clinician, faced with an emergency, to tell immediately which line is which instead of trying to sort through a tangle of lines.

But in prototyping Sāfen struggled with certain problems. Which material would withstand hospital disinfectants, for example, and which type of printing would be legible but would not fade after regular handling? What design would permit the tag to attach easily to an IV line but would not fall off or occlude the line? How much pressure should be required to close a tag? Answering these questions required the kind of expertise in medical plastic molding only an expert like SigmaPro could provide.

The Collaboration

Solving these problems didn’t just require an experienced FDA-registered medical plastic molding supplier with a proven record of successful manufacturing and excel under strict documentation and process validation conditions. It required a proactive design partner that brought a yes-we-can spirit to every single challenge. When Sāfen showed SigmaPro a prototype that was only partially functional, SigmaPro saw how to make it work—and then proved they could do so through a series of iterative, collaborative designs that optimized for both manufacturability and functionality. SigmaPro’s turnaround time for each model was no more than two weeks.

SigmaPro’s speed and efficiency will ultimately save lives. Other providers of medical plastic molding would have gotten bogged down in the development stage, dragging the client through endless layers of red tape, reviews, and inefficient requirements that do not respect the pressure of the client’s timeline. That process can take months or years and cost the client thousands of dollars—not to mention countless patient lives.

Sāfen found collaborating with SigmaPro to be so smooth and satisfying that Renae Franz, Chief Commercialization Officer at Sāfen with more than three decades of experience in medical device development, said the people at SigmaPro felt like part of her own team.

 “We just had to tell them what we wanted to accomplish and SigmaPro found a way to make it work,” sahe said. “It was so refreshing to work with a supplier who always wanted to say yes.”


The Result

SigmaPro successfully manufactured Sāfen’s new tagging system—and did so far faster than initially anticipated. Ms. Franz estimated that, thanks to SigmaPro, Sāfen was able to bring the product to market six to twelve months sooner than they would have with any other supplier.

The tags SigmaPro is manufacturing are already performing well. In an initial study, clinicians were able to find the correct line twenty seconds faster than they could before—a potentially life-saving difference. In another preliminary study, clinicians were better able to identify and remedy errors in lines labeled with Sāfen tags than with existing tagging systems. Fortunately, SigmaPro has manufacturing capacity to dramatically scale up production at short notice as clinicians continue to recognize the transformative power of Sāfen’s life-saving technology.

To discover more about medical plastic molding and how SigmaPro can help your company save lives, talk to one of our engineers today.