The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) honored the winners of its annual Mold Maker and Mold Designer of the Year awards in full view of attendees on the first day of Amerimold. This year, Harry Raimondi, technical services manager for Bales Metal Surface Solutions, accepted the award for Mold Maker of the Year, which is sponsored by DME Corp., and Chris Hanes, engineering manager for Micro Mold and Plastikos, took home the Mold Designer of the Year title, which is sponsored by Progressive Components International Corp. In addition to each receiving plaques, a $500 scholarship award will be donated in the name of each winner to the trade-related schools or programs of their choosing.
Here are their stories.
Harry Raimondi was fresh out of high school in 1964 and wondering what to do with his life when a conversation with an uncle, who was a moldmaker, sparked him to enter the trade. He spent the next 29 years learning his moldmaking skills and plying his trade at various moldmaking companies in the Northern Illinois area. Because of his many years of “behind-the-bench” experience, Raimondi was led into other jobs in the industry, including a move to Bales Mold as that company’s first-ever technical services manager in 1996. It was there that Raimondi helped Bales’ customers—moldmakers—tackle their toughest surface and finishing issues. He also used his experience and expertise in moldmaking to support new business development, as well as help in consultation and management of all services Bales offers.
Today, Raimondi is helping the second generation of the family-owned company, now known as Bales Metal Surface Solutions, grow the business with values of honesty and integrity. Love of the moldmaking trade is why Raimondi has stayed with the industry all these years. “I feel strongly about attracting young people to the industry,” he says. In addition to his regular job at Bales, Raimondi spends time promoting the trade, writing articles and technical papers, and leading webinars. According to Bales Vice President Sara Mortensen, “He’s a pillar of the moldmaking community, not just in Chicagoland, but around the U.S.”
When Raimondi first learned he was to receive the award, he thought, “Why me, with all the other talent that is out in the industry? It was hard to believe, and I felt honored. I’ve been in this industry for 51 years, and it’s been good to me. I hope that young people coming out of high school realize the opportunities that are available to them.”
His $500 scholarship will be given to Illinois High School Dist. 211 – Schaumburg High School.
Chris Hanes has a B.S. in Plastics Engineering Technology (PLET) from Pennsylvania State University Erie, The Behrend College, and began his career at Micro Mold in 1991 as a design engineer for this manufacturer of precision-engineered molds. “I started at the bottom, completing detailed drawings, making blueprints and assembly drawings,” Hanes says. “I needed to prove myself capable before progressing into more demanding projects.”
So why mold design? It relates back to that early passion Hanes had for learning how things are made. “Tooling was always more interesting to me than plastics processing,” he says. “I enjoy building something up from a basic idea.” Hanes worked his way into greater responsibilities in the design engineering department until he became a lead mold designer. He led the mold design for a number of complex, precision molds for components such as an AMP connector—his first project; an insulin pump for a medical device customer; and a face mask for an aviation helmet for an aerospace and defense customer, which Hanes says was “the most difficult mole I ever designed.”
Hanes has designed more than 250 molds during the course of his career, and today manages Micro Mold's engineering department and is responsible for the Tooling Engineering Group. “Moving into management was a whole new ballgame,” he says. “There are many more demands on my time from multiple departments. Rather than being able to focus my attention on just one or two projects, I have to be focused on the much bigger picture.” He has, however, successfully implemented a number of continuous improvement initiatives at Micro Mold and Plastikos, including overseeing several end-of-arm tooling designs to mitigate part damage during mold ejection and exploring new ways to improve manufacturing efficiency while maintaining high standards of quality.
After 24 years (and counting), Hanes offers this advice to the next generation in the trade: “Be humble and realize that you will never know everything. Even after all these years, I realize just how much I don’t know. College is a good foundation to a lifetime of learning, but if someone is willing to teach you something, listen and learn.
“It was quite a surprise and an honor to be selected as the 2015 Mold Designer of the Year,” Hanes says. “When I heard that I had been nominated, I never dreamed that I would actually be selected as the winner. I think it’s only fair to thank the engineering and manufacturing teams at both Micro Mold and Plastikos. I learn something new from them every day. Their input over the years has definitely had a great impact on the quality of our designs. Winning this award is certainly a testament to that teamwork.”
Chris' winnings will go to the Northwest PA section of the SPE, which has established a scholarship fund to benefit students in the Penn State Behrend plastics program.
MMT congratulates both winners!