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First out of tool (FOT): a milestone in the development process of your plastic product

3 May 2019

Project manager Quinten Pattinama says there is something magical about the first time that plastic is injected into a new mould. “The product truly comes to life at that moment. For customers, this is a great and exciting moment at the same time. After a detailed development process and close collaboration between Rompa Group and the customer, they finally get to see the first samples of their plastic product or component.”

A brief overview of FOT

  • The idea becomes reality: you get to hold the first tangible result from the mould.
  • You can use the samples to conduct the initial assembly, safety, functional and visual tests. The results are used to further optimise the mould.
  • You can use the samples for marketing purposes.
  • With the samples, Rompa Group can accurately assess the duration of the rest of the development process and the launch date, so we can begin mass production as soon as possible.

The preliminary process

“Customers are often looking forward to the ‘FOT moment,’ as we call it,” says Quinten. “That makes sense, when you consider the process leading up to it. From conducting market research to presenting – sometimes hundreds – conceptual designs to potential users. Eventually, only one design is chosen. Our injection moulding experts then assess the manufacturability of the design during the DFM process. This assessment will reveal any necessary optimisations, e.g. pertaining to ventilation, part lines, markings, and connection points. We utilise our expertise to achieve an optimal result together with the customer.”

First things first: creating the mould

After the DFM process, it is time to design the mould. “Rompa Group takes full responsibility for this process to make things easier for the customer,” Quinten continues. “We work together with expert mould makers with whom we have a long-standing partnership. The agreements we make with the customer during the DFM process are shared with the mould maker. The first prototype of the mould design is assessed using a checklist that contains all functional and quality requirements. Designing and building a mould can take anywhere from five to twelve weeks, depending on the complexity of the product and the location of the mould maker. The lead times in China are generally a bit shorter than those in Europe.”

This is what the FOT moment looks like

Once the mould is ready, the scheduled FOT moment can begin. Quinten explains how that works at Rompa Group. “Every new mould has its own FOT. Our customers are always invited to witness this special moment. It also allows us to determine as quickly as possible what modifications, if any, are necessary. This significantly reduces the lead time. If the customer cannot be there for the FOT moment, we will send them a sample.” Quinten says some products are perfect on the first try. “In most cases, however, the mould is further optimised or modified following the FOT. After all, a sample says more than a design drawing.”

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Ask your questions!

Would you like to know more about injection moulding or the process of developing finished products? Are you looking for advice regarding the manufacturability of your design? Contact Quinten Pattinama, quinten.pattinama@rompa.nl