General Archives

Managing the Plastic Injection Molding Supply Chain

Managing the Plastic Injection Molding Supply Chain

In recent years, supply chain shortages have affected nearly every industry, and the plastic injection molding industry is no exception. Manufacturers must understand the injection molding supply chain to keep their operations running smoothly and ensure their client’s shipments arrive on time.

The Supply Chain Process

Supply chains are a series of connected processes and individuals that are directly involved in the creation of a product and making sure it is delivered to the consumer in a timely manner. Careful logistical planning is needed throughout the entire process and manufacturers need to prioritize efficient production and scheduling to meet demand.

Sourcing Raw Materials

Resins are sourced based on their quality, availability, and cost. When there are issues within the supply chain, it may be necessary to find alternative resins based on cost and availability. Your manufacturer will be able to help with this process should the issue arise.

Packaging, Distribution, and Order Fulfillment

After the manufacturing process has been completed, the finished product is packaged for distribution. After packaging, the product is shipped to the consumer. During this process, it is important to understand how critical it is to get orders to their final destinations on time. Manufacturers with distribution and warehousing capabilities should be able to complete delivery to big-box retailers, provide just-in-time (JIT) delivery, and direct delivery to consumers.

How Port Erie Manages the Plastic Injection Molding Supply Chain

Risk Management

In order to properly understand what is needed, manufacturers need to identify risks to the injection molding supply chain. Such risks include natural disasters, pandemics, geopolitical instability, and supplier bankruptcy. As these risks are identified, contingency plans are put into place to minimize the disruptions they may cause. This includes finding backup suppliers and alternative resins.

Supplier Partnerships

The pandemic disrupted many supply chains, including plastics. Partnering with suppliers that have raw materials available and forging lasting partnerships with them gives manufacturers the ability to provide resins with little disruption.

With the disruptions from the pandemic, Port Erie was able to identify alternate suppliers and openly communicate issues and disruptions with our customers. Keeping their customers informed and updated was their top priority, and allowed Port Erie’s engineers to find qualified alternate resins even when their specs called for a single source.

Extensive Capabilities

Providing all necessary services in a single location will save time and money transporting your products from one manufacturing location to another. At Port Erie, we offer a wide range of manufacturing services, secondary operations, and warehousing:

Custom Injection Molding 

With custom injection molding, we can create your product by using high pressure to fill a mold with melted resin, leaving your product complete after cooling.

Structural Foam Molding

If you need to create large parts, structural foam molding uses low pressure to inject liquid resin and an inert gas or chemical blowing agent into a mold.

Mold Design and Tooling Transfer

Our in-house tool room allows us to create and repair molds for your product, so we can get right to work. We can also improve existing tooling for your production.


With on-site engineers, we are able to help you source alternative resins if there are kinks in the supply chain. They can also help make your design more manufacturable, saving time in the manufacturing process.

Secondary Operations

After manufacturing, your project will need to be packaged, assembled, or even decorated. Our team has extensive experience providing the services needed to get your product ready for the shelves, including pad printing, heat transfer, and packaging.


Supply chain issues don’t just happen with materials. Recently, there have been labor shortages that have affected nearly every industry in the country, including plastic injection molding. Implementing automation into the manufacturing process can alleviate the strain these labor shortages place on the supply chain by providing continuous manufacturing.


Time and money are both lost on shipping products around the country just to be put in a storage facility. Port Erie has warehousing capabilities, allowing for our customers to store their products long- or short-term, saving them on transportation costs.

Logistics, Quality Control, and Distribution

Coordinating all portions of the supply chain is crucial to reducing delivery time and costs. Plastic injection molders who provide logistical support can help create plans, reduce lead times, minimize cost, and ensure on-time delivery.

These manufacturers also make sure that the products leaving their facility are of the highest quality. Monitoring processes to identify and address concerns before they cause delivery delays makes your customers happier and saves you money.

Distribution services provide order fulfillment, drop-shipping, and just-in-time (JIT) deliveries so your customers are always getting their product on time.

Partner With Port Erie for High-Quality Plastic Products and Quick Turnaround Times

For over seven decades, Port Erie has been the chosen injection molding partner. This is not just because of our extensive capabilities, but because we understand the plastic injection molding supply chain. Our experience allows us to identify risks and address them head-on before they become a problem for you.

Contact our team today to see what we can do for your project.

Large Tonnage Injection Molding: Low- and High-Pressure Processes

Large Tonnage Injection Molding: Low- and High-Pressure Processes

Large plastic products can be produced in two ways, large-tonnage injection molding and large-tonnage structural foam molding. Both can produce products that can replace metal, wood, concrete, or fiberglass. Each process, however, has its benefits and specific applications, so it is important to understand the processes and their benefits.

Injection molding can be used to produce large plastic products with thinner walls. These products tend to be lighter than those produced by structural foam molding, usually weighing less than 20 pounds.

Structural foam molding also allows for the production of very large plastic products with thicker walls. These products are generally heavier than injection molded products, weighing 50 pounds or more. However, structural foam molded products are still more lightweight than solid plastic parts.

Low-Pressure Structural Foam Molding

Low-pressure structural foam molding requires nitrogen gas and/or a chemical blowing agent to be mixed with the melted resin. This mixture is then injected into a mold under significantly lower pressure than traditional injection molding techniques. Structural foam molding produces very large parts with thicker walls, making them very durable.


The most common resins used in structural foam molding are polyethylene and polypropylene. Both resins possess advantageous properties that make them ideal for this process.

Polyethylene is a durable and lightweight resin that offers excellent load-bearing, shock absorption, vibration-dampening properties, and resistance to chemicals, grease, and moisture. Polypropylene is a rigid and lightweight resin offering excellent compression and impact resistance, as well as chemical, temperature, and moisture resistance.

Structural foam molding and these two resins are great for creating large industrial totes and grilles for lawn and garden tractors due to their durability and resistance to heat, chemicals, and moisture.


Highly Moldable

Low-pressure structural foam molding can create parts with variable wall thicknesses. However, cycle time will be determined by the thickest part.  Uniform wall thickness is always best.  Also, due to the low pressure used in the process, there is a reduced risk of warping and deformation during the manufacturing process.

High Strength-to-Weight Ratio

These products are lighter weight than solid plastic products, however, they maintain their strength and durability.

High Thermal Stability

Structural foam’s ability to withstand thermal expansion makes it ideal for products that will be exposed to a wide range of temperatures. Whether it is heat or cold, these products will not warp or lose their properties if exposed to extreme temperatures.


Due to the lower pressure used in this molding process, the tooling used does not need to be as durable as high-pressure injection molding tools, saving you money.

High-Pressure Injection Molding

Injection molding requires plastic resin pellets to be melted down in the barrel of the injection molded machine. The melted resin is then forced into the mold through a high-pressure nozzle, forcing the material into all parts of the mold cavity. As the plastic cools and hardens, it retains the shape of the mold.


There are three common resins used in high-pressure injection molding: HDPE, ABS, and polypropylene. Again, each has its own advantages and is chosen based on the application of the product being produced.

HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is a flexible and waterproof resin. It has good low-temperature resistance, chemical resistance, and corrosion resistance, and is easily processed at an affordable price.

ABS is a very durable resin with high durability. It also has high tensile strength and is very resistant to physical impacts and chemicals.

Polypropylene is a lightweight, cost-effective, rigid resin. Its chemical and heat resistance along with its high tensile strength and impact tolerance make it a great choice for a wide range of products.

High-pressure injection molding is used to create many outdoor products, including DuraTrac outdoor floors and lawn or garden carts.


Repeatability with High Detail

This manufacturing process can produce identical parts over and over. Additionally, the high-pressure forces used force the plastic against the mold walls, creating highly complex designs with intricate details.


Cycle times for injection molding are very short—sometimes only lasting a handful of seconds. It is also possible to use a multi-cavity to produce several different parts in one run, saving even more production time.

Produces Less Waste

Luckily, while the injection molding process doesn’t produce much waste, any unused or waste plastic produced can be recycled for future products.

Can be Automated

Many parts of the injection molding process are being automated, including loading and unloading, inspection and quality control, assembly, and more. Using automation and robotics during the manufacturing process helps to reduce labor costs and production time, increasing your cost savings.

Work with a Plastic Injection Molder With Large Tonnage Injection Molding and Structural Foam Molding

Working with a manufacturer who has large tonnage capabilities in both low-pressure structural foam molding and high-pressure injection molding grants you a wider range of manufacturing options so you get the best product possible.

Port Erie’s large-tonnage injection molding creates large parts with walls thinner than 0.25 inches. Our machines are capable of handling up to 1,650 tons and can create parts up to 20 pounds.

Our large tonnage structural foam molding produces parts up to 50 pounds with walls thicker than 0.25 inches. These parts are heavy but would weigh significantly more if they were solid plastic.

At Port Erie, we will assess your part and help you determine which process is best for your product’s functionality and your budget. If you need, our engineering team can get involved to help optimize your design, so it is as compatible with its manufacturing process as possible.

Port Erie Can Handle All of Your Structural Foam Needs

At Port Erie Plastics, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the highest quality plastic products possible. From engineering to injection molding or structural foam molding and value-adding secondary operations plus distribution and warehousing, we have you covered.

Contact our team today with any questions, or request a quote if you are ready to get started.

What to Expect From Your Plastic Engineer

What to Expect From Your Plastic Engineer

Engineering is critical to the success of your product. The process improves upon the design of the product to help both your company and the manufacturer. Your plastic engineer works closely with you and the manufacturing floor to create plastic products that are easily manufactured while continuing to maintain high-quality products that meet the needs of the client.

Before working with a manufacturing company with on-site engineers, it is important to know what to expect from the process and how the process will benefit your company and your product in the long run.

What Does the Plastic Engineering Process Look Like?

The plastic engineering process starts by presenting the product concept to the project engineer and the tooling manager. From there, they review 3D product models and compile advice on how to make the product more conducive to molding and manufacturing. They will also consider how the product can be altered so that less expensive tooling options can be used.

Once the client approves the design changes, different resins are discussed. If a client comes in knowing what resin they want, but are unsure as to what grade would be best for their application, the plastic engineer will help them decide based on the needs of the product.

After the resin is decided, a project quote is presented to the client. If the manufacturer is rewarded with the project, they begin designing the mold. The mold design then needs to be approved by the client. Once they sign off, the steel is ordered and the molds and tooling can be created, taking 12 to 18 weeks to fully complete.

When the molds and tooling are ready, the first shot is done. The client is usually there to see the first part or product manufactured, and if they are happy with it, full production then begins.

What Can Your Plastic Engineer Offer

Source Alternative Resins

There are a few reasons why your plastic engineer will source alternative resins. Generally, supply chain shortages and cost are the primary reasons a different resin will be considered. If the chosen plastic is too expensive or back-ordered, your plastic engineer will discuss different resins that could be a good fit for your application.

However, sometimes there can be failures in production where the chosen resin isn’t working with the application. In these instances, the plastic engineer will re-evaluate the plastic that is being used and find a better fit.

At Port Erie Plastics, we buy millions of pounds of resins yearly, giving our clients and engineers an abundance of materials to choose from. This allows us to save money on manufacturing and material costs, while providing solutions no matter the challenges.

Offer Advice on New Tooling Designs

Some parts are complex, making them more expensive to manufacture and putting them at a greater risk of failure in the production process. Plastic engineers always look to minimize the complexity of the tooling to make manufacturing more efficient. The less complex the part, the less likely it is to be damaged during the manufacturing process and the easier it is to produce.

Offer Advice on Existing Tool Modification

When evaluating existing tooling, engineers are still looking to reduce complexity. The piece will be sent in and evaluated. The engineer will sample the tooling and assess for problem areas, then offer suggestions that can reduce cycle time and lower costs.

Specialization in Automation and Robotics

Many times implementing automation and robotics is discussed during the quoting process. Engineers will discuss the benefits of cutting down on human operators to save labor costs and time while still considering the budget of robotics. The machines are expensive to implement; however, they are efficient and precise, and could save you money in the long run depending on your application.

Benefits of Working with a Plastic Manufacturer with Engineering Capabilities

Partnering with a plastic manufacturer that has in-house engineering capabilities yields various benefits. You get the benefits of working with a plastic engineer without having to have an engineering department at your own company. It is also possible to come in with a design and your ideal resin and the engineers can tweak it to make it more efficient, eliminating the need to fully engineer a piece before bringing it to a manufacturer. You will also have direct contact with a plastic engineer throughout the entire manufacturing process, so you know exactly what is going on and you can ask any questions you need to.

Port Erie’s Engineering Staff is Here for You

At Port Erie, our engineering staff will support you and your project in a variety of ways, including:

  • Supplying technical information and expertise throughout the duration of your project
  • Providing support from the initial concept to production to the final product
  • Mold and part prints and model review
  • Making sure your products are production-ready
  • Ensuring products meet your needs
  • Providing relevant procedures, documentation, and other information for efficient manufacturing
  • Quality control
  • Monitoring your project throughout the manufacturing process and providing necessary improvement suggestions

Our experienced team of Penn State plastic engineering graduates combines their knowledge with customer service to give each client the best experience possible. Whether you need injection molding services, structural foam molding, mold design, or extrusion, we can make the process as efficient as possible.

Trust Port Erie’s Experienced Engineers with Your Next Plastics Project

Contact our team to see what we can do for your product today.

The Benefits of Automation in Injection Molding

The Benefits of Automation in Injection Molding

Plastic injection molding is a common manufacturing process where melted plastic is injected into a mold under high pressure and is then allowed to cool, leaving the plastic in a desired shape. Automation in injection molding is becoming more and more popular as robotics are coming into the market and labor shortages persist. Combining various robotic manufacturing equipment and automation tools into the injection molding process yields various benefits, including quicker production times, cost savings, and more.

Types of Manufacturing Robots


Collaborative robots, or cobots, are robots that are designed to be used alongside humans. Cobots share space with employees, assisting them with processes or being controlled by a human to complete a task. Prioritizing safety, flexibility, and ease of use, these robots are there to make the job of humans easier without replacing them entirely.

Industrial Robots

Industrial robots are fully autonomous machines, meaning they require no human intervention. Typically, these robots take on repetitive, high-precision, or dangerous tasks to protect humans and direct their attention to more important tasks. They also provide a safer work environment by removing employees from dangerous situations, allowing them to focus on other tasks.

The Benefits of Automation in Injection Molding

Both cobots and industrial robots are used in injection molding, integrating automation into the process. Working with a manufacturer who has the ability to use automation in their injection molding process can yield great benefits for your company.

Quicker Production Times

Automated injection molding moves the manufacturing process along rapidly, avoiding interruptions that may be necessary when the process is done solely by a human. These systems can theoretically run 24 hours a day, resulting in faster turnaround times and more productive manufacturing.

Decreased Cost

When manufacturers implement automation into their injection molding processes, they can greatly reduce the cost of their services. As robots take on certain capabilities or jobs, they reduce the need for human workers. This reduces the labor cost for the manufacturer and allows them to offer better prices with a quicker production time.

More Sustainable

Automated robots are programmed to complete a specific task. Because the system is integrated into the robot and the actions are automatic, repeatable, and consistent, there is a significantly lower chance of a robot making an error or mistake. Since mistakes and errors are so rare in automated injection molding, there are fewer damaged parts and fewer wasted materials. When working with a manufacturer who has implemented automation into their injection molding processes, your product is created in a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Port Erie Plastics Has Implemented Automation in Injection Molding

With over 70 years of experience, Port Erie Plastics has all of the technology and knowledge needed to produce an exceptional injection-molded product. We understand that automation has become more prevalent and we were eager to implement cobots and fully automated robots into our manufacturing processes. The benefits have been invaluable and we will continue to keep pace with this technology so we can provide the best possible plastic products.

Our automated injection molding robots perform various processes such as loading and unloading, vision inspection, quality control, assembly, sorting, over-molding, and so much more. This ensures that your product is accurately and consistently manufactured and assembled.

Our plastic processing solutions expand well beyond automated injection molding. We also provide services in mold design, tooling transfer, secondary operations, structural foam molding, and so much more. Our quality assurance team and engineers are sure to match you with the right materials and processes so you are happy with the product we manufacture for you.

Contact our team or request a quote today to get started.

What is Structural Foam?

What is Structural Foam?

Structural foam products are used widely in a variety of industries. These products are created by combining nitrogen gas with a melting polymer and injecting it into a mold. This results in a lighter-weight core with a strong, solid outer layer. Due to the foaming process, these products can be anywhere from 20 to 40% lighter than solid polymers, aluminum, steel, and sheet metal while still maintaining their strength and impact resistance.

How are Structural Foam Molded Products Made?

To create foam molded products, nitrogen gas is mixed in with the polymer while it is melting. This mixture is then injected into a mold under low pressure. The gas is released and expands after injection and undergoes a chemical reaction, causing foam to form. When the foaming plastic touches the cold walls of the mold, it solidifies, producing a solid outer layer with an almost honeycombed interior.

Benefits of Structural Foam Molding

Easily Produce Large Products

Since this molding process uses lower pressure, the process allows for the production of larger parts or multiple parts in a single cycle. The lower pressure process also reduces the risk of these large molded products warping.


The low-pressure process also allows for the use of lower-cost materials. It is not uncommon to use 100% regrind HDPE in this process.

When creating larger or thicker parts, the cycle times for structural foam molding are also shorter than high-pressure processes trying to make the same parts, making it the cheaper manufacturing process for large or thick parts.

Highly Moldable

These products undergo less stress during the molding process and are highly resistant to deformation, allowing for more molding shapes and sizes. Without having to worry about damage during the process, you can design a more complex mold and maintain the proper look of the product.

Lightweight Parts that are Still Durable

Structural foam molded products are more lightweight than their injection molding counterparts while still being able to maintain their strength and impact resistance. These products are also element and temperature-resistant, so they can withstand a wide range of environments without experiencing any thermal expansion or damage.

Turn to Port Erie Plastics for Your Structural Foam Molding Needs

At Port Erie Plastics we are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality structural foam molded products. Our structural foam injection equipment allows us to produce parts up to 7.5 feet in length with a range of wall thickness from 0.200 inches to 0.500 inches. You can choose from polyethylene or polypropylene for our structural foam molded products.

With over 70 years of experience, we also have extensive experience in a wide range of other plastic capabilities including custom plastic injection molding, mold design, engineering, secondary operations, and so much more.

Our team is eager to help you in whatever way we can, so contact us today to see what we can do for you.

What Is Made From Injection Molding?

Parts & Products Made from Injection Molding

Port Erie Plastics has provided high-quality plastic injection molding solutions in Northwest Pennsylvania for the last 60 years. Our top-notch manufacturing plant, which occupies over 615,000 square feet, is equipped with the latest equipment, tools, and cutting-edge technology. Our 400+ highly experienced, skilled full-time employees provide custom injection molding solutions tailor-made to meet the specific needs of your application. We support Penn State’s Plastics Technical Center in Erie, one of only two campuses offering degree programs in Plastics Engineering Technology.

Injection Molding Process

The injection molding process takes various stages. Each stage must be carefully evaluated when considering part design, tool creation, and molded plastics production. The following are the primary steps in the injection molding process:

  • Step 1: The mold closes: The injection molding cycle time starts off when the mold closes. Where robots are leveraged, the cycle will begin and end when the bots receive a new part or when the next part hits the conveyor belt.
  • Step 2: Injection: The next step involves injecting the heated plastic into the mold. When the melt fills the mold, it displaces air, which is released through vents in the injection pins and along the parting line. Gate, runner, and vent designs are crucial because they guarantee the mold is adequately filled.
  • Step 3: Cooling: After the mold has been filled, it is allowed to cool for a specified period to sufficiently harden the material. The cooling time is determined by the resin used as well as the thickness of the part. Ideally, each mold comes with internal cooling or heating lines that cycle water through the mold so that a consistent temperature is maintained.
  • Step 4: Plasticizing the resin: As the temperature of the part goes down, the barrel screw retracts while drawing new plastic resin into the barrel from the material hopper. Heater bands are designed to maintain an ideal barrel temperature for the kind of resin being utilized.
  • Step 5: Injection: The injection process involves the mold’s opening to allow for the ejector rod to move the ejector pins forward. The part will then fall off into a bin underneath the mold.
  • Step 6: Packaging the runner: The bots or machine operators will separate the ideal parts from the leftover runners. The usable parts are weighed, counted, and packaged, ready for shipping or assembly.

Various Parts and Products Made from Injection Molding

Injection molding processes are used to create a range of parts and products, including car interiors, electrical switches, toys, computers, and medical tools. They are also used to manufacture sporting goods, electronic housings, construction materials, and health care supplies. Other common applications include plastic bottles, agricultural machinery, automotive components, lids, and caps.

A Career in Injection Molding

A career in the injection molding industry is arguably one of the most rewarding and self-fulfilling. An injection molding professional is responsible for a range of duties, including undertaking quality control measures, managing problems and setbacks, and performing routine equipment maintenance and repairs. Other responsibilities include ensuring a safe working environment for everyone. Some of the specific jobs available in injection molding include:

  • Machine Operator
  • Technician
  • Molding Line Operator
  • Molding Line Assistant
  • Fabricator

Port Erie Plastics is ready to help you start a fulfilling career in injection molding. We regularly hire graduates and interns for a range of injection molding positions. Apply today for your dream job at our highly equipped manufacturing plant.

Primary Services Offered at Port Erie

The following are the primary services offered at Port Erie:

  • Plastic Injection Molding: We provide high-quality custom injection molding for our customers. Our capabilities include insert molding, overmolding, and mold decorating.
  • Mold Design & Tooling Transfer: We leverage nearly 90 plastic injection mold fabrication machines to provide you with high-quality injection mold designs and convenient tooling transfer solutions.
  • Structural Foam Molding & Extrusion Services: Our highly experienced team uses top-notch tools and their vast experience to provide custom structural foam molding and extrusion solutions designed to match your preferences. Our equipment enables us to produce parts of up to 7.5 feet in length and a wall thickness range up to 0.500 inches.

Custom Solutions from Port Erie Plastics

There is no doubt injection molding is one of the most popular manufacturing processes due to its unmatched cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness, among many other benefits. It is ideal for manufacturing high-precision complex parts for high-demand industries such as aerospace, automation, medical devices, electronics, and more. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions or apply to work at Port Erie Plastics.