Justifying the Jump from Metal to Plastic

Justifying the Jump from Metal to Plastic

We all know that the eye gravitates toward curves versus boring straight lines! If money was no object - would you choose a Corvette or a Pinto? The challenge faced today by most product managers and designers is bringing a product to market within budget and justifying the external enclosure as 'curvy and swerve"y" ' vs. a ho-hum metal box. Some distinct projects come to mind where redesigns and upgrades have paid off for our clients!

When should a company consider making the Jump
to Plastic?

Redesigns from metal housings to plastic are easily justified by marketing and engineering teams. Curves along with creating a signature shape or look brand the product line and create buzz in the marketplace. Simply put: Buzz sells more product!

Is it more expensive to produce something in plastic or metal?
Short answer - yes! (If we are talking about easily bent sheet metal.) There are two choices - create curves with a tooling investment or keep the design angular and most likely boring with a basic sheet metal shape. An investment is needed - but with discussion and want lists - an upgraded look is easily achievable within budget!

If the company decides to make the jump, what costs will the company need to consider (design, materials, etc.?)
Companies have to consider their user, their market when working the budgets to analyze the overall cost of the enclosure. If you spend 10%-20% of the total product cost on the exterior enclosure - - the so-called first impression "view" will you sell 100% more product? Yes - we've seen product redesigns and branding efforts pay off immediately for clients. The ROI is amazing to witness!

When is it not a good idea to manufacture in metal?

  • The product enclosure is an essential aesthetic design element.
  • When the product design in metal is too complicated for the metal house to manufacture and drives cost.
  • An angular simple box design makes the enclosure look flimsy and doesn't promote the sophisticated product line.

Did you find this information helpful? Great! You should download our free Design Guide, because these are the sort of quality tips and explanations we provide.