This technical information has been contributed by
PTI Engineered Plastics, Inc.

Production-ready Prototypes Speed Market Entry for Injection Molded Products

Plastic Protoypes

Proprietary Process Handles Complex Shapes without Compromising Part Design

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich.--A proprietary tooling and manufacturing process launched by PTI Engineered Plastics is said to "leapfrog" conventional approaches to product development for customers requiring fast market entry. Already used successfully for a number of automotive and medical applications, the P3TM process enables the company to create ready-for-production prototypes with tooling durable enough to mold and support substantial production quantities. As a result, the company says, it can help customers stretch program budgets further and reduce the number of manufacturing processes required to economically bring a product to market.

"When you buy a traditional prototype, you are only getting a prototype, and there are still several steps to complete before you can go into production," said Mark Rathbone, CEO of PTI Engineered Plastics, in a statement. "With P3, the same tool that provides the prototype for testing and validation can be used for production. In some low-volume scenarios, the one tool is used for the entire production run."

Because the same tool that's used for prototyping can also be used for production, the prototype parts are identical to the production parts. Besides accelerating a product's entry into the marketplace, the P3 (PTI Production Prototype) process is reported to reduce overall development costs and create saleable, injection-molded products without compromise to the product design or material of choice. Primary benefits of P3 include speed and time compression; the flexibility to accommodate engineering changes quickly and accurately; and the ability to handle complex shapes and tolerances without change or compromise to the part design.

"In its prototype or launch state, we want to help the customer design a part that is manufacturable," says John Budreau, director of new business development for PTI Engineered Plastics. "We can make tooling based on how complex the geometry and tolerances of the part are, so we won't have to compromise part design. We're not going to simplify their design so we can build tooling that is easy to build. We're also not going to steer a customer down the wrong road if they want something like an eight-cavity part. We will take what they give us and make it manufacturable. Even our aluminum tooling can hold complex shapes and tolerances. Or, it could be a hybrid tool, if that's necessary. We may need to use a steel insert in the mold. We'll do whatever it takes to make their custom parts."

Described by PTI as a valuable alternative to rapid injection molding and rapid prototyping, the P3 process is suitable for highly detailed, high-tolerance molded products and assemblies. The company has employed the process to prototype and manufacture automotive components that include a 56-way electrical connector, electrical component shrouds and wiring channels, and parts for alternative fuel systems. It has also used the P3 process to help medical device manufacturers bring products, such as a patient monitoring system, to market in as little as six weeks.

Injection molded parts for the electrical component shrouds and wiring channels--a 20-part assembly--were required to be delivered to a Tier One auto supplier within seven weeks. PTI used the P3 process to provide the customer with a prototype from the same tool, made of P3 steel and aluminum, used for production. By building one mold for prototyping, debugging, validation, PPAP, and manufacturing of 90,000 pieces, PTI reportedly saved the auto supplier more than $300,000 in overall program costs.

PTI Engineered Plastics is a privately held, full-service plastic injection molder that specializes in getting customers' products to market ahead of the competition. Approximately 50 percent of the company's business comprises prototyping and short-run manufacturing. According to the company, its customers "typically have a vision for their product and a requirement to get their product to market first, with no compromises to design or material."

PTI Engineered Plastics has successfully completed certification audits to the ISO 9001:2000, TS/ISO 16949:2002 (automotive), and ISO 13485:2003 (medical devices) Quality Management Systems standards. The 25-year-old company currently employs 150, and anticipates growing to 200 employees by 2012. To accommodate increasing demand for its services, PTI is planning to move into a larger, newly constructed engineering and manufacturing facility this summer.

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This technical information has been contributed by
PTI Engineered Plastics, Inc.

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