Latitude Discs gave the disc golf world a bit of insight into how discs are made with injection molding. I thought this was fascinating and wanted to share.
Vibram, although they don’t make discs anymore did a video about their disc making process but be warned, mute the music.
To understand a little more about injection molding discs, keep reading.
How does a disc get made?
All disc golf companies use a process called injection molding. That’s basically a process that melts little plastic beads into a liquid-type shape and squirting them into a mold to shape.
The Engineer Guy is a Youtube GOAT and does much better job breaking down injection molding than I could.
Additionally, Florida State University has a very old video that explains a bit how frisbees are made
- PDGA’s Technical standard doc
Where/how do disc companies buy plastic to melt?
Plastics is probably be the biggest industry of manufacturing in the world.
There are probably 10,000 companies that make plastic in the United States alone. There are two different types as well, some are oil-based like propylene and ethylene others are synthetic.
How hot do they get it to put it in the mold?
How does the cooling process affect disc creation?
Every single aspect of the injection parameters effect the outcome of the shape of the disc, temperature of the barrel that heats the plastic: (4-5 zones) speed of injection ( up to 5 different zones).
Pressure: transferring positions of injection which also incorporates speed and pressure and time!
Cooling time, Mold temperature, moisture content room temperature,
Melt flow of plastic, and many other variables.
How do they design molds?
Discs are typically designed in CAD tools but the mold bases can be standardized. A regular tool steel mold base would cost about $5,000 – $10,000 and the inserts that make up the part run another $8,000-10,000.
$14,000 – $20,000 for a tool steel mold. You can also have an aluminum mold which is more or less a prototype mold built for ~$5,000.
How do they get the heated plastic in a mold?
The plastic isn’t heated until it goes through the barrel of the injector and screw.
How are the designs/names stamped on the discs?
Hot stamping machines, laser printers and in mold decorating.