Do looks really matter in injection mold part design?
Aesthetics are everything. Aesthetics can make or break the success of a product no matter how transformative that product really is. This sentiment is especially true in the consumer goods market segment. More than ever consumers are making purchasing decisions based on how good a product looks as there are typically multiple substitutes with the same functionality. Aesthetics describe a wide range of characteristics including: shape, color, texture, and more. For every product that we purchase, designers spend countless hours making sure that each one of these characteristics are optimized so that their product will be a hit, paying especially close attention to the texture of a part. Texture is crucial to making a product look premium, rugged, or unique. In the injection molding world the king of all textures is gloss. Gloss is a term used to describe how polished a surface is. The higher the gloss the more polished a surface is.
In additive manufacturing, glossy parts are hard to come by. It is no secret that each additive technology has its own inherent surface finish that varies from printer to printer, from material to material, and even from print profile to print profile. These surface finishes vary greatly from basic FDM parts to high end SLA/DLP parts but none of them come close to what is needed when a mold designer specifies a glossy SPI A2 finish.