Injection molding cost can range anywhere from $100 to $100,000+ depending on the scope and intricacy of the project. A small and simple single-cavity plastic injection mold usually costs between $1,000 and $5,000. Very large or complex molds may cost as much as $80,000 or more. On average, a typical mold that produces a relatively simple part small enough to hold in your hand costs around $12,000.
But at least to some degree, asking what plastic injection molding costs is a lot like asking, “How much is a car?” Will your mold be a Pinto or a Porsche? And don’t forget that the price of a mold is just the beginning. To determine overall plastic injection molding costs for any project, you have to consider raw material, operation, and repair costs later down the road, too.
Is injection molding expensive?
The start-up costs for a large run can be expensive, but the price for the project becomes better and better as you continue to produce. If you’re looking at price per unit, plastic injection molding is one of the cheapest, most cost-efficient forms of manufacturing. With injection molding, the more units you create with your mold, the cheaper the price per unit becomes.
The determining factors in the cost of your mold are a combination of the part size, complexity, material, and anticipated quantities. For instance, if you wanted 1,000 washers per year, we would recommend a single cavity mold, meaning it makes one washer per machine cycle. In that case, the mold would probably be $1,000-2,000.
However, needing 100,000 Xbox controllers every month is a different story. For this requirement, we would recommend building a 12-cavity hardened “family” mold, which would make four Fronts, four Backs, and four Button Trees every cycle. Of course, this type of mold comes with a cost. You’d better have $60-$80,000 or more to invest!
These examples are extreme, but they illustrate the range of costs to anticipate. Your particular part will most likely fall somewhere in between that. At Rex Plastics, our molds average around $12,000.
What factors determine the cost of plastic injection molding?
In order to understand what the injection molding cost of your project may be, you need to understand the process and factors that will affect the price of your project.
Cost of equipment
There is a range of machines used for injection molding. The cheapest option is a small desktop injection molding machine perfect for in-house projects. A small desktop injection molding machine is the most cost-effective choice for producing low volumes of parts.
If your project requires large industrial molding machines that are operated by a service provider and large manufacturers, you’re looking at spending anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000+. Unlike the small desktop injection molding machine, these larger machines require professionals who can operate, maintain, and monitor the machine.
Cost of mold
Material selection is another consideration in determining what plastic injection molds cost. Any plastic product made from fiberglass-filled material, for example, will wear down most common molds. Only a mold made from hardened tool steel can withstand injection molding with fiberglass-filled material.
For most projects, there are three main methods for making molds or tooling.
- Computer numerical control (CNC) machine: At Rex Plastics, we primarily focus on hardened tool steel for our CNC mold-making process, but there are a number of materials suitable for CNC machines. Various metals and plastics, foam, glass, and even wood can be used to create products using different machines. Less common materials often require specialized equipment, such as hot wire or plasma cutters. CNC machines are an ideal solution for many different production jobs. From simple to unique, one-off products that require a high degree of precision and detail, CNC machines are a great fit as the process allows for accuracy down to a fraction of a millimeter.
- Electric discharge machine (EDM): EDM machines are better for very complex mold designs. By using a workpiece and a tool electrode, EDM machines can create highly accurate designs. Separating the workpiece and tool electrode is a dielectric fluid that causes recurring current discharges. These discharges are what shape the workpiece electrode to create the mold.
- 3D printing: 3D printing is the most cost-effective way to produce injection molds quickly. For 3D printed molds, there is much less equipment and professional labor needed. 3D printing can save you a lot of time and money. This method allows for a design to be tested and run a trial on the end-use material before actually investing in tooling for mass production.
Materials used in injection molding are plastics, specifically thermoplastics. There are hundreds of thermoplastics, but the most common thermoplastics used in injection molding are:
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
The cost of the material you use for your project is usually decided by the design, material chosen, and the amount you need to complete the project. Here is a quick chart explaining more about each thermoplastic material, their features, common applications and price per pound.
|Type of Thermoplastic Material
|Price per pound
|electronics, keyboards, phone hardware, LEGO bricks, drainpipe systems, kitchen appliances
|flexible, impact-resistant, leech resistant, moisture resistant, recyclable
|food packaging, milk jugs, toys
|leech resistant, flexible
|Tupperware, kiddie pools, toys, utensils, car batteries
|warp, shrink and impact resistant
|compact disc cases, packaging applications, household appliances
|nylon / (POM)
|high-ware parts, quick-release buckles, gears, hand cranks
|impact resistant, optical clarity, vulnerable to chemicals
|automobile headlights, bulletproof glass, eyeglasses, greenhouses, DVDs, mobile phones
Cost of service
The last thing to consider when pricing out your injection molding cost is the cost of service or professional labor you will need. Professionals can help you set up the necessary equipment to create molds and your products. During the process, they’ll be able to replace defective parts and monitor the progress of the overall process.
Plastic injection molding price guide
As a full-service plastic injection molding company that manufactures molds from conception to completion, pricing for each job we fulfill can vary dramatically.
However, we know injection molding cost estimates are critical to any successful project.
That’s why we’ve compiled the following price guide to help you budget for your mold. The injection molding cost examples are categorized by type (Rapid Prototyping, Insert Tooling, High-Production Tooling), and degree of difficulty (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced).
Planning your next project
If you have a target price established for your parts, tell your mold builder. They can design the mold accordingly and plan for the right number of cavities to achieve that price. The more cavities (or parts made per cycle), the less expensive the parts will be, also allowing for higher output.
While you don’t need to know every detail about the types of molds available, it’s always a good idea to come prepared. Supplying the basics to your mold builder will help them build the best tool for your project. We recommend that you find a mold maker who also has production capabilities. The production company won’t want to build an inadequate mold because they know they must use it.
If you’re thinking of outsourcing your mold-making overseas, consider all of the factors in bringing the mold to optimum production standards outlined in this American Mold Builders Association article. You might be surprised to learn the true cost of off-shoring!
Whatever your project requires, Rex Plastics can help you decide whether you need a Ferrari or a Fiat.
Contact Rex Plastics to discuss your plastic injection mold needs