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Choosing Manufacturing Processes and Materials for Your Custom Medical Cart Bases

Posted by Shannon Pelky on September 11, 2017

Though cart bases may not be your main concern when determining your custom cart’s design, it’s important to know your options. The material you choose for your base will affect your budget and lead time, so being aware can help you plan ahead for these expenses and time constraints. Here are some pros and cons to consider when choosing between different materials and manufacturing processes for your cart base.

 

Sheet Metal BaseSheet Metal Base

A sheet metal base involves punching or lasering out the metal shape, welding the components together, powder coating, and assembling rubber edging.

 

 

Pros 

  • No tooling required
  • Good for low to medium production volumes
  • Low design and testing costs
  • Quick production lead time
    • Average production lead time 1-2 weeks
  • Easy to implement changes to the product’s design

 

Cons

  • Manual process—make sure the vendor has quality control plans in place
  • Compared to plastic injection molding and aluminum casting bases, the per piece price shows little improvement when switching from small to large quantity orders

 


Plastic Injection Molding BasePlastic Injection Molding Base

The plastic injection molding process utilizes plastic pellets which are melted and then injected into a mold. When cooled it forms the desired component shape.

 

Pros

  • Very repeatable, great for consistency
  • Allows for complex designs
  • Reliable in high volume production
  • Low production cost at high volumes

 

Cons

  • High upfront tooling costs
  • Design changes during production are difficult and expensive
  • High design and testing costs
  • Long lead times
    • Average tooling lead time 9–16 weeks
    • Average production lead time 8–9 weeks
  • Required to purchase large quantities at a time

 


Aluminum Casting BaseAluminum Casting Base

Multiple casting processes are used for developing custom medical cart bases. The options include sand casting, die casting, and V-process casting. Each of these processes has its own pros and cons and production volume requirements, which will be addressed during the design phase of your project.

 

Pros

  • Very repeatable, great for consistency
  • Allows for complex designs
  • Reliable in high volume production
  • V-process and die casting = great surface finish
  • Low production cost at high volumes

 

Cons

  • High upfront tooling costs
  • Design changes during production are difficult and expensive
  • High design and testing costs
  • Requires a longer lead time
    • Average tooling lead time 8–10 weeks
    • Average production lead time 8–9 weeks
  • You may be required to buy large quantities at a time
  • Sand Casting = low surface finish quality and tends to require a machining process to clean up the surface finish
  • For a low production volume, it’s a higher per piece price

 


Machined BaseMachined Base 

A machined base can be completely machined as one piece or each leg could be machined individually and attached to the cart during the assembly process.

 

Pros

  • Zero to low tooling costs
  • Great surface finish quality
  • Reliable in medium to high volume production
  • Easy to implement changes to the product’s design
  • Short lead times
    • Average production lead time 3–4 weeks

 

Cons

  • For a low production volume, it’s a higher per piece price
  • Depending on the shape, this method could waste a lot of material

 


Combination Base with Plastic Thermoform CoverCombination Base with Plastic Thermoform Cover

A combination base is designed by mixing different base materials.  For example, the structural part of the base could be made out of metal, and an aesthetic plastic cover could be installed over the top.  The plastic cover could be made with either the injection molding process or the thermoforming process. (The base pictured here has a structural sheet metal base, with an aesthetic thermoform base cover. The thermoform cover is made by heating a plastic sheet to a pliable forming temperature, forming it to a specific shape or mold, and trimming it down to create the final product.) 

Pros

 
  • Allows for complex designs
  • Thermoform tooling tends to be less expensive than injection molding tooling
  • Good for low to medium production volumes
  • Short lead times
    • Average tooling lead time 5–6 weeks
    • Average production lead time 4–5 weeks

 

Cons

  • The thermoform price per piece would show little improvement when switching from small to large quantity orders.

 


Customize Your Base

Keep in mind that since this is a custom design project, we can design a base and use manufacturing processes that fit your design budget, timeline, preferences, etc. The options you see here are suggestions to get you started, but you are not limited to these selections. By mixing and matching any of these processes we can help you come up with an ideal solution for your project.

HUI’s team of experts can help you determine the ideal base for your custom medical cart, depending on your budget and project requirements. Contact us today, and we’ll get your project underway. 

 

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Topics: Insider, Medical Cart Trends, Medical Cart Development Timelines, Industry Insights, Medical Cart Design, Custom Medical Cart Benefits, Medical Cart Aesthetics


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