A few days ago I had the opportunity to attend the Die and Mold Seminar at Ingersoll Cutting Tools in Rockford, Illinois. I learned a lot about cutting tools, including the variety of options available to die and mold machinists, derived benefits to users when they choose the right tool for the job and how Ingersoll is working to expand its already extensive offerings to make cutting metal faster, easier and more economical.
While many of Ingersoll’s popular standards were discussed, several new products also were featured, the finer details (including videos) available at ingersoll-imc.com. For today’s blog purposes, I’ll list some of the new products specific to die and mold machining – then, click here to view a few of the photos I snapped during the open house on Ingersoll’s impressive campus.
New cutters for die and mold applications include:
Gold-QuadF Feed Cutters (new 9mm IC insert expansion). Ingersoll has a customer who reports getting 3.5 hours-per-edge cutting Titanium with this high-feed cutter line featuring “ultra-strong, super-free cutting insert geometry”. Ingersoll says that in die and mold, the Gold-QuadF has become a proven high-feed cutter, and moldmakers will find of particular interest the SDES1305MPR and SDES1906MPR series inserts, which excel in cavity and core rough-outs. Learn more.
Power-Feed13+ (featuring UNEU1307R, 13mm IC insert for improved high-feed milling up to 2mm DOC) with six cutting edges and refined high-speed geometry to eject chips forward. Learn more.
Pro-Duo Roughing and Semi-Finishing Ball Nose (double-sided insert with two cutting edges) available in modular TopOn or fixed standard versions. Learn more.
Drill-In™ line of solid carbide drills are an improvement over an older line that is being phased out, according to Ingersoll. New DJ and DH drills are reported to offer more optimized cutting edges for improved stability, wider flute design for better chip evacuation and precise web thinning for excellent self-centering capability. Learn more.
Di-Pos Hexa FHU Series flat-bottom plunge mills feature new 4mm size. Using the same insert as end mills and face mills, this version reports having six cutting edges (3+3) and is ideal for producing a flat bottom on a workpiece, even in unstable conditions. Learn more.
Look for Ingersoll Cutting Tools at IMTS booth W-1822.
Some things never change. Like competition. There will always be competition, and let's face it, it's a great motivator to continuous improvement. What I've also noticed is that the ways to face the competition haven't changed all that much either. This reminded me of a four-part article series that MoldMaking Technology published back in 2000 on growth strategies for the U.S. moldmaker that is still relevant today.
The series includes a look at the competitive conditions in the plastics tooling industry 16 years ago; what some companies were doing to grow their businesses amidst challenging conditions; how integrating rapidly-changing technologies can serve as a means of differentiating your shop from competitors, but alone does not ensure a company's security; and, how to formulate a strategy in order to position your company during challenging times.
Although Omni-Stamp, an Italian plastic injection mold builder, is similar to many American family-owned mold shops, what makes it unique is its focus on research and development projects by combining craftsmanship with current technologies to offer fully integrated project management. An essential part of this process is CAD/CAM software.
According to the company, VISI from Vero plays a critical role with customers at every stage, including research. For example, developing molds with channels shaped to guarantee greater cost effectiveness and energy efficiency with dynamic conditioning, and optimizing the models and parameters used to simulate the process through the use of pressure and temperature sensors inside the mold.
Once product design is complete, VISI helps find the most appropriate production solution, as per quality requirements, batch size and costs. The company has six VISI stations with VISI Modeling, VISI Flow, VISI Machining and VISI Mold modules, as well as viewers in the workshop.
To take research one step further, Omni-Stamp works with regional universities and research centers to study the transformation of polymers. One project involved thermally-conducting polymer nanocomposites for making heat exchangers. They tested the technologies best suited for converting thermally-conducting nanocomposites. According to the company, these materials are gaining interest in applications where thermal conductivity, resistance to high temperatures and good mechanical resistance at operating temperature are required at the same time. The materials tested showed critical issues and differences in transformation as compared to traditional polymers. Omni-Stamp simulated and optimized the process using VISI Flow, a plastic flow prediction tool, for pre and post production analysis and concurrent engineering of the injection molded components.
Another research project where VISI played a vital role involved the effects of microcellular molding, in terms of process, deformation and aesthetics, and combining it with dynamic mold conditioning. By optimizing process parameters and mold and part design, VISI helped reduce clamping force and deformation with microcellular molding alone.
Although Omni-Stamp plans to continue its involvement with R&D projects and working alongside customers providing the necessary support for pre-production molding, checking product dimensions, and mold maintenance and modifications, they are looking to expand services by creating non-conventional molds with advanced molding technologies and by creating equipment used by customers during the production stage that permits beneficial synergies if well interfaced with the mold.
Blue Wave Ultrasonics manufactures heavy-duty ultrasonic cleaning systems and environmentally friendly detergents specifically designed for injection molding tools. The systems create a powerful, microscopic scrubbing action said to effectively remove outgassing residue, grease and rust, even from intricate areas, including water lines. " />
Cold Jet LLC's i3 MicroClean system uses dry ice instead of abrasive means like harsh chemicals, wire brushes or abrasive pads to clean molds, extending mold life. According to the company, the system allows for increased cycles between preventative maintenance and reduced scrap rates." />
Bales Metal Surface Solutions Diamond E.N. is an electroless nickel coating with nano-sized diamond particles that offers a balance of corrosion and wear resistance, plus lubricity. It is suitable for steel and aluminum tools, unlike standard hard chrome, which is difficult to plate onto aluminum, the company says." />
GF Machining Solutions has expanded its line of laser texturing solutions with the Laser P 400 three-axis machine and Laser P 400U five-axis machine. According to the company, the Laser 400 range’s fully digitized texturing process makes it easy to texture, mark, engrave and add functional texture to parts, molds and dies, even when dealing with complex 3D parts. " />
ToolingDocs offers items that help streamline plant efficiencies, including “status tags” and a mold light bar. The tags magnetically attach to molds and are color-coded for easy identification of mold status at a glance. Six different tags are available. The mold light bar is designed for illuminating hard-to-see areas at the molding press. The light bar magnetically mounts to the press platen to direct six LED floodlights on the mold using swivel brackets (included). Rated for 50,000 hours, the light bar can be wired directly to the 24-V machine power or to an optionally available transformer." />
Phoenix Laser Solutions, Alpha Laser produces a line of fiber laser welders offering quasi-continuous to completely pulsed setting options to fulfill a variety of laser welding requirements. Each fiber laser can weld in pulsed mode, much like a traditional laser welder, as well as in continuous mode, which can generate more heat and enetration when required. The systems, which are diode-pumped and range from 300 to 900 W, are capable of deeply genetrating base metals, making them well-suited for seam and joint welding." />
Equipment Sales is designed to repair plastic injection molds, rubber processing molds, and die casting molds and dies made of aluminum, steel, and beryllium copper. It is particularly well-suited for repairs on aluminum molds used for prototype or production runs, as well as traditional steel molds. The limited heat produced by the welder’s pulse-pulled plasma arc process is designed to minimize mold and die deformation, and results in easier and
cleaner finishing, the company says. Typical applications are parting lines, corners, edges, pin holes, scratches and machining errors." />
AST Technology offers a system that enables moldmakers to test mold cooling circuits to ensure they are working properly and efficiently. The System Cooling Test Rig complements the company’s System Cooling platform, which gives molders the ability to monitor water flow and temperature circuits inside the mold. Data from the testing system can be used to qualify molds for production and as part of the company’s benchmarking process. Additionally, the system monitors every circuit in the mold individually, allowing issues to be detected and fixed prior to production. Those mold cooling circuits also need to be maintained regularly to remove scale and rust in order to ensure ongoing maximum productivity. " />
Die Sep portable Mold Water Leak Tester features a 25-gallon water tank and 12 circuits, each with individual supply and discharge valves, and a 13th circuit to test through the mold’s water manifold. A water pump provides flow of 3gpm at pressure ranging to 45 lbs. Additional pressure ranging to 125lbs can be reached by connecting shop air through the tester’s air supply inlet. The unit’s digital flow meter measures the flow of the circuit being tested. An optional USB port is available for downloading of data to a software program. The 120-V system also includes a pressure gauge and an easy-change water filter." />
Grieve Corporation's No. 862 and No. 863 furnaces both are currently used for preheating molds. No. 862 is a gas-heated, 2,000°F (~1,093.3°C) oven that features 750,000 Btu/hr. No. 863 is an electrically-heated, 1,400°F (~760°C) box furnace that features 52 kW installed in nickel-chrome wire coils supported by a stainless steel frame. " />
An executive of a major medical molding corporation once told me that mold maintenance is a crucial, but often overlooked, aspect of optimizing mold performance. Over the last 14 years I’ve worked closely with mold maintenance “gurus” Steve Johnson, Randy Winton, Mike Burroughs (ToolingDocs) and other experts who have proven this out with first-hand experiences they’ve shared in articles for MMT and elsewhere.
It’s troubling to think that even today, with the many advancements in mold technologies, there are still companies that have not made the connection between systemized maintenance (including using the right tools for the job) and a mold’s performance and profitability. For that matter, precise and systemized mold repair is just as critical, as is reestablishing the right surface finish.
Please take a few minutes to view my slideshow because it brings you a sampling of products and technologies available to advance your mold maintenance, repair and surface treatment operations. Some were featured at Amerimold, but in case you missed it, take a look!
Brenda Clark, on behalf of the SPE Mold Technologies Division, presents a plaque and $500 honorarium to Wes Cobb to mark his being named the 2016 Mold Designer of the Year. Clark made the presentation at AB Tech, a community college in Asheville, North Carolina, whose SolidWorks training program Cobb chose to receive the $500.
Wes Cobb has made an indelible impression on the lives of many mold designers. He’s mentored them and has given of his time and experience to AB Tech Community College’s Engineering and Applied Technology program to ensure that young people desiring a rewarding career in the industry will not left to fend for themselves.
Wes Cobb, president of Technical Design Associates Inc. in Brevard, North Carolina, is the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Mold Technologies Division’s 2016 Mold Designer of the Year. Just as the SPE recognizes leaders in moldmaking who have made a difference like this year’s Mold Maker of the Year Geoff Luther (see my blog from July 18), the division also honors a leading mold designer who has accomplished much in his or her career and given back to the industry, too.
Cobb was nominated by Brenda Clark, engineering manager for Hasco America Inc. “Wes was instrumental in assisting many young and upcoming mold designers in North Carolina. He even brought me down to North Carolina from Connecticut, giving me the opportunity to get on the computer and further my mold design career,” she says.
Cobb started out as a drafter for the Taylor Instrument Co. in Rochester, New York, in 1966. Then, following a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, he joined Alliance Mold Co., also in Rochester, as a mold designer trainee in 1972. Cobb says that this training combined with seven years of higher education is what launched him into a mold designer role at Eastman Kodak in 1976. Three years later Cobb had the opportunity to relocate to North Carolina where he continued to design molds and products until he was hired in 1981 as the first engineering manager for Atlas Tool and Mold in Arden, North Carolina, a position he held until he broke out on his own in 1989 and opened Technical Design Associates.
“He has designed many molds from unscrewing to over-molding and hot runner designs in the 27 years of running his own business,” Clark says. “These are too numerous to list, and they cover a wide range of products and industries for plastics. I worked for Wes between 1992 and 1994, before my children came along. We worked many long hours and created many designs.”
Clark says that in addition to his mold design work, Cobb also was instrumental in starting the apprentice program for mold making and mold design at AB Tech in the late 1980's, and he started and led the local SolidWorks Chapter for many years. In fact, Cobb has designated AB Tech’s Solidworks training program as the beneficiary of the $500 honorarium that comes with his Mold Designer of the Year award from SPE’s Mold Technologies Division.
“I am truly so pleased and proud to be recognized in this way,” Cobb said when he was notified that he was chosen to be honored. “It’s all just starting to sink in. This business has definitely had its ups and downs, but the people I’ve had the good fortune to work with over the years have made it worthwhile for me. I reluctantly had given Brenda some background information thinking she might be wasting her time. I thought my contributions to the industry were not close to being on the scale of those people who had mentored me while never receiving any recognition in their careers for their efforts.”
For me, Cobb’s humble gratitude is what sweetens this awards program. It’s a privilege to be able to meet and recognize those who go out there every day, doing what they love, and sharing that passion with others without a thought of what they might get in return. Wes Cobb is a mold designer, but he is also very much a builder of futures within our industry. Congratulations, Wes.