How To Create The Best Plastic Manifolds

We will do our absolute best to ensure that your project is a success, whether that's with us or another company. Follow the tips below (and throughout this guide) to get the most out of your designing and planning.

Table of Contents

    When Selecting a Plastics Manufacturer

    When choosing a machine shop to build your manifolds or machined plastic parts, many go to their default shops. While general purpose machine shops make great metal parts, plastics are very much different. Plastic machined components should be made by a plastic only machine shop.

    • Make sure the manufacturer uses the proper coolants

      We use water based — not oil based — coolants. While oil-based coolants may work well for metal parts, the oil can embed in the surface of the plastic and/or cause stress cracks.

    • Use a shop that only machines plastics — not also metal

      When a machine cuts metal, chips from the metal migrate into the coolant. These chips can embed into the plastics causing discoloration and contamination.

    • Verify the business's tooling, techniques, and machines are specifically for plastics

      There are three very important points that every good plastic machinist understands: how stresses form in plastics, how to support plastics when machining, and lastly, the proper ways to machine plastic to minimize post machining changes. Without understanding these points, it's better to find another place that will carefully consider these before production. 

    • Proper Threading

      Threading is a critical aspect of a manifold. A plastics-only machine shop knows how to make stress-free threads. Flat bottom ports are the most common interface. Controlled Fluidics has refined our techniques to produce the highest quality. Below are some photos of the bottom face of a threaded port: one by us, and the other by a competitor. 

    Photo of the bottom face of a threaded port within a manifold from Controlled Fluidics
    Photo of the bottom face of a threaded port within a manifold from Controlled Fluidics
    Photo of bottom face of threaded port within manifold done by competitor
    Photo of bottom face of threaded port within manifold done by competitor

    More About Getting Manifold Design Help & Production with Controlled Fluidics

    Controlled Fluidics offers free manifold design support for those companies needing assistance on their fluidic system. Our engineers are experienced in selecting the right components to make your idea successful. From pump, valve and sensor choice to layout of a cost efficient, manufacturable manifold, Controlled Fluidics is capable in every step of the process. The basic approach for a design support request.

    After working with our design team, request a quote through our quote form or by calling us at (603) 673-4323. Our engineers will consider all angles and concerns when designing for your project. We want to ensure that we get all the right information to provide the best design possible. Clients and customers usually choose from one of the two following options for designing manifolds.

    We have two options from which to choose when getting a quote from us.

    Full Design Request

    Customer supplies basic schematic and components. Controlled Fluidics provides the complete layout. A full design request will include a quote for the design and an estimate for manufacturing the manifold.

    Design Completed

    Customer/client provides the completed manifold design. Controlled Fluidics can provide design for manufacturing support as an add-on. Includes a quotation for the manifold.

    More About a Full Design Request

    Have a sketch of the fluid path but don't know where to begin? We can help.  We can design the entire manifold including valves and porting from your schematic. The initial quote will be for the design effort and a rough estimate for the manifold cost.

    Steps In Full Design Request Process
    • 1 Reach out to our experienced team to get the conversation started.
    • 2 Our team will have a few conversations to understand fully the purpose of the design and to ensure it's a great fit that meets expectations. We will continue to work with you until we get it right. From there, we will factor in all the necessities discussed to give the most accurate numbers possible to meet your budget concerns.
    • 3 We will use our decades of experience to create a manifold design that meets and exceeds expectations, taking into consideration all project concerns while maintaining close contact with the project's lead.
    • 4 We understand that circumstances change, and projects can change in their desired end results. We will work with your team to ensure that we get the design right before moving to production.
    • 5 We will never move into production without the customer's final approval. Satisfaction is our top priority. Once we receive final confirmation, we will give the final production costs before moving into the good part: creating a physical manifold.
    Requirements For Streamlined Full Design Request

    This usually means a 2D sketch or layout sample of your manifold design.



    We will need to see the list of anticipated components that you plan to use with the device.



    We will need to know what space limitations there might be for the expected manifold.



    Please let us know what the design needs to withstand in terms of:

    • Pressures
    • Temperatures
    • Chemicals
    • Flow rate
    • Valve sizes
    • Liquid or gas (Media)



    Please include any sensory or sensor requirements that might be need including in the overall design.



    ±.005”/125 microns is standard.



    Let us know how many pieces, components, assemblies, etc. that you would need.



    A description of the functions/purpose of the complete fluidic system isn’t always required but can be very helpful. The more our engineers understand your system, the more they can help assure the manifold fully meets your intentions.

    More About The Completed Manifold Design Quoting Process

    Requirements For Completed Design Request

    How many pieces are needed? (We will appreciate exact quantities)



    How often will you need this order filled: once, quarterly, annually?



    How soon do you need these complete? We can work with short timelines in special cases, but it is not always guaranteed.



    We work with over 30+ different types of specialized plastic materials and even some rarer ones. Our special partnership with Quantum AEP grants us special access to prices that fit just about every budget.


    2D & 3D MODELS

    If you have it ready, we ask that you send along your 3D model in a STEP format along with your 2D models in PDF with additional information not shown in the 3D model. We accept other formats as well. See our quote request form for more details.

    2D models are often necessary to add detail to the design but a 3D model is required to make a manifold. When a 2D and 3D model conflict, the 3D model is used to make the final decision.

    Details to put in a 2D Model:

    • Tolerancing
      • Our standard tolerance is +/- .005 (130 micron) when not specified.
      • We can support tighter tolerances but they must be specified in a 2D model accompanying the 3D model. Tighter tolerances may cost more, apply them only where necessary.
    • Surface finish
      • Our standard finish is 32 microinch RA (.8 micron). For more on finishes check out Surface Finish (our typical finishes), Finishes (alternative finish techniques) or Clarity (levels of clarity).
    • Material
      • Please specify your material choice on the 2D drawing
    • Location of threads
      • Please specify all threaded holes.
    • Thread sizing
      • Threads are assumed to be class 2B threads.

    Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Add-On

    We offer a DFM option for those who have a basic layout but need further refinement. This is a limited design review focused on lowering cost and ease of manufacturing. No functionality checks.

    Design for Manufacturer Add-on

    We can provide sample manifolds from our inventory. Samples manifolds are an opportunity to review our quality and chemical resistance testing. We have samples in all the materials that we bond. Please enquire at the quotation stage.

    Concerning prototypes, we often receive requests for prototype manifolds. As a manifold tends to be the heart of a system, it is subject to repeated iteration and test to reach the desired goal. The customer can expect the prototype parts to have the same quality as a production part.

    Please note that we never make just one part because of fallout through the manufacturing process. Depending on difficulty, we typically start with 3 to 5 blanks.

    For those customers who want a small amount (5 or less), we will quote a lot charge with a quantity range. The lowest quantity is the guaranteed delivery amount. The largest is the highest quantity the customer can receive if there is limited fallout.

    3D printing can be used for prototypes as a less expensive alternative to making fully machined parts. However, production comparable quality is lost and additional secondary machining is required for threads.

    Delivery Times

    Machined manifold standard time: 4 - 6 weeks

    Bonded manifold standard time: 8 - 12 weeks

    A bonded manifold will take longer than a machined manifold because it is similar to making 3 parts. Layer one is the first part, layer two is the second part. Finally, the two are bonded together and assembly machining must be done as the 3rd part. Generally, we make all of layer 1 as a group, all of layer 2 as a group, etc. Where possible operations do occur in parallel, however single piece flow is not cost effective for manifold production.

    We ask that you keep this in mind as we do batch flow, not single flow. We understand that a short delivery is important. Unfortunately, our manufacturing is the most cost efficient in batch processing due to extended setup times.

    How To Handle Defective Manifolds

    Every manufacturer will have their own processes when it comes to returns or exchanges for defective or damaged products. We do our best to accommodate and alleviate any issues that customers or clients encounter with our products to ensure complete satisfaction.

    If you find yourself in a situation where the product does not meet expectations, here are the steps to initiating the process with us.

    Complete a thorough product inspection and investigation

    To ensure that we know where we went wrong, we will ask for details about the product as well as the deficiencies. We will also ask about your assembly process methods to see if any improvement can be done from either side. 

    Gather & send photos

    This provides us with a visual aid and to provide a better diagnosis. 

    Get your QA/QC department contact

    We understand that people are busy, and it may seem easier to have a liaison between the manufacturer and your internal QA/QC department. However, this system does more harm than good. Please ensure that you have your internal QA/QC personnel's contact information ready to provide smoother communication and more efficient troubleshooting. We will need to have a technical discussion of the issue before an RMA is given. Every part we create is built to the customer’s exact specifications.