February 24, 2020 4 min read

Custom product team meeting  in boardroom

What is Rotational Molding and Custom Molding?

Roto-molding is essentially a very simple four step process.  Plastic resin in a powder form is placed in a hollow steel or aluminium mold and rotated co-axially so that the powder can reach all parts of the mold. During rotation the mold, when in the oven, is heated so that the plastic becomes molten and layers up on the walls of the mold.  It is then cooled slowly and carefully and the mold opened; the product is de-molded and the mold reloaded, ready to repeat the process.

Path Plastics’ current product line, produced from molds that have been designed and developed by Path, includes a variety of bulk bins or tubs, crates, smaller bins, boxes and containers for use in the food and beverage processing, materials handling, fishing, wine and agricultural industries, as well as crayfish traps, pallets, carts, drums & tanks, floats, mobile packing units, plus an extensive range of innovative and very robust plastic lockers.  Path Plastics constantly strives to identify viable products for markets in which they are active, in order to enhance and expand on current business, which results in the design and development of such items, for selling and distribution by Path Plastics.

Apart from these proprietary products, Custom molding is also done in a big way at Path Plastics.  When we talk Custom Molding, it can be interpreted in more than one way, but it is always a case of the resultant product and design being made exclusively for the particular client, and that client then supplying the product to market through their own sales, marketing and distribution efforts.

 Clients may be approached by Path Plastics in order to solicit their business, where the client already has a set or sets of rotational mold tooling, from which products may be produced.  And whether it is Path who made the first approach, or the other way around, in that the client made overtures to Path Plastics for making their product, it is often a case of the client with the tooling not being happy with their current rotational molder, and wanting to give another manufacturer the opportunity to better the product and service that they are getting.  When this is the case, Path Plastics will take the opportunity to look at the current tooling, and more often than not, be able to modify same, so as to end up with a far better quality product.  It also often happens that the design team at Path can suggest meaningful improvements to the client’s product, so as to make it more cost-effective and frequently, more desirable for use in whatever industry it is being employed in.

Another way of describing Custom Molding by a rotational molder,is when the client will approach the company to assist in bringing an idea for a product to fruition.  Such a product could either be something already available in the market, but manufactured from another substance- not plastic- or something that is unique and for which the rotational molding method of plastic manufacturing, is deemed to be the ideal process. In such instances Path Plastics would enter into a Non-disclosure Agreement with the client, prior to proceeding with the project.

Proceeding with the project would involve working from (in many instances) a concept sketch only, with rough dimensions, or a sample of a similar product that is not in rotational molded plastic. In constant consultation with the client, Path Plastics’ design team would explore and elaborate on this concept, to the point where a viable product can be put on the table.  A rendering and detailed technical specifications and mold drawings would be the basis on which the tooling would follow in order to produce the end product, and these would be signed off and approved by the client before commencing on manufacturing of the tooling.  The molds or tooling, can be manufactured out of steel or aluminium, or sometimes both, especially if a product has various parts that make up a whole.  The client would thus contract Path Plastics to project-manage the mold manufacturing process, where a lot of it can be done in-house by Path and the rest by highly qualified specialists in the field, in order to have the tooling in the end with which to commence production of the required units for distribution into the market.  This would result in the tooling being the sole property of the client, but with a Manufacturing contract in place for Path Plastics to be the exclusive manufacturer.

And lastly, when it comes to Custom Molding, it often is a case of the client being active and having a good track record in a certain market, with the necessary market share for the selling and distribution of a certain product, but not the funds or expertise to enter into the mold design & manufacturing phase.

In instances such as this, dependent on financial restraints, it sometimes results in Path Plastics designing and developing the required tooling at their cost entirely and in the end being part-owner of such tooling, but not involved at all in the selling and distributing of the end product- but ensuring that a permanent and exclusive manufacturing contract for the product is in place.