Molding process and surface ornamentation

Anyone here intimately knowledgeable with molds in plastics manufacturing ?

Would you think this kind of surface ornamentation is generally modeled on the geometry and turned to a mold (can molds generally reproduce fine detail like that ?), or is it engraved afterwards ? I would imagine engraving adds substantial costs during mass production (?)

Well I’m not sure of the scale there but the texture would be in the mold. If it’s too fine to practically model and mill, it can be put in the mold using etching, it’s painted on and chemically burned in, to put it in few words. That’s how they get the fake leather texture on your car dash pieces.

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Does it matter if the pattern is recessed versus protruding ? Is one more labor intensive than the other ?

I would say the short answer there is “it depends.” There are all sorts of processes available to tooling shops. One way or the other would be generally easier to mill, but then they can do stuff like EDM, and you can make a pattern to make a mold instead of making the mold directly, etc etc.

The picture above is from a chopstick handle which is 8mm wide. Would you know what is the smallest feature that can be reliably reproduced at the 10,000th piece (assuming mold normal wear during production) ?

For example, would a design with variable thicknesses (0.1mm at the thinnest) be reproducible ?