Custom Miniatures Complexity
The complexity of your custom miniatures impacts how they are manufactured.
An injection-molded piece will use a mold (or tool) that is built with your design in a negative form inside the cavity. While the tool itself is a complex piece with many parts, at its simplest level, it is a mold with two halves. The tool is designed so those two halves fit together perfectly to mold your custom piece. The heated PVC plastic is injected in a liquid form into the mold to fill all of its cavities.
For simple pieces, like a pawn, the tool can accept many pieces of the same design for a very efficient production process. A key term to understand when designing miniatures is “line of pull”. “Line of pull” means that your piece is designed in a way that the two halves of the tool can be pulled apart cleanly without additional engineering.
If you inspect an injected molded product you will be able to see a subtle line along the middle of the piece that shows where the two halves of the mold meet.
If you decide to provide us with a 2-D drawing, our production partners will create a 3-D model. They will use their knowledge of the manufacturing process to design your models to take line of pull into account. Sometimes, however, a design is too complex to have a simple manufacturing process and tool. Pieces that are very narrow or stick out at odd angles would make it impossible to pull out of a two piece mold without damaging the design. These shapes require more complex tool building and processes and are therefore more expensive. Check out the injection molding tool in action!
Often times a complex design will require a tool with multiple parts with injections at different angles to ensure the design is captured correctly. All of these adjustments eat into the available space within the tool. So, if your order requires multiple complex pieces, it’s likely you’ll need to utilize more than one tool.