By: Christina M. Fuges 27. March 2015

30-Second Survey: Interested in Updating Moldmaking Industry Guide?

SPI Customs and Practices of the Moldmaking Industry" serves as a guide for mold buyers and mold manufacturers by outlining customary business practices when specifying or purchasing a mold. It also includes classifications for different mold types (and their approximate life spans) to minimize confusion when quoting or ordering a mold.

A previous SPI survey revealed that there is a clear desire to update this document. If you are interested in reviewing and updating this file, please share your contact information via this brief survey or by emailing David Palmer by April 1st. 

Click here to take the 30-second survey.

By: Christina M. Fuges 26. March 2015

Is it Time to Add Molding Capabilities?

When working with John Berg, marketing directory for MGS Mfg. Group on March's "A Modern Moldmaking Trend" feature, which examines what it actually takes to add molding capabilities (whether for sampling or production molding), he shared some questions you should ask first.

Mold shops that are considering sampling should answer the following questions:

  • Are you losing opportunities to shops that can sample in-house?
  • Do have existing floor space / easy access to additional space?
  • Is your project management team confident in adding this to itsplate?
  • Can you quickly find and develop the required talent?

If you keep saying yes, maybe you are ready to make the move.

For mold shops that are considering the transition to sampling capabilities with the longer range plan of production molding should assess their customer base now and what the next five to 10 years may bring. Will molding operations put you in direct competition with the very same companies that brought you to your current position?   

Then look closely at the range of injection molds your shop has completed during the last five years and categorize them by mold size, number of cavities, shot weight, resin, manifold, etc.  It would be cost prohibitive to purchase all the injection molding machines required for every application.

By: Matthew Danford 25. March 2015

"Smart" Technology

Shown here is a series of electrodes for a 32-cavity mold. The EA12D sinker EDM’s 20-position toolchanger enables Moldcraft to burn unattended (photo courtesy of Moldcraft).

It’s easy to see how technology like robots can take tedious tasks out of operators’ hands, thereby freeing them for more value-added activity. And, let’s face it, robots are awesome. That said, I’m more impressed by technology that almost seems to think for itself. As manufacturing processes and equipment continue to advance, we seem to be getting closer than ever to that reality.

Just one recent example is highlighted in this March-issue case study, which covers recent upgrades in the EDM department at Depew, New York-based Moldcraft. One recently purchased sinker, a Mitsubishi EA12D from MC Machinery Systems, adjusts how aggressively it burns according to cutting conditions. That’s the same thing a skilled operator might do, but this is automatic. Another example of the EA12D’s “smart” operation is its ESPER programming system, which prioritizes speed, surface finish or wear according to operator preferences. Read the article to learn more. 

By: Christina M. Fuges 24. March 2015

Checking in with a Leadtime Leader

Ontario, Canada-based Aalbers Tool & Mold continues with the growth strategy that helped it nabbed the Leadtime Leader honorable mention title last year with $1 million in support from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund  to be used for equipment and training investment.

Here is a brief Q&A with Toni Hansen, President of Aablers Tool & Mold:

MMT: How did Aalbers obtain this grant?

Toni Hansen: "We take time to review all government programs that are available for our area of business. One being grants for capital equipment purchases, subsidies for employee training and research and development.  They are available to all. You simply need to apply, but most importantly, have a solid business plan to support your request."

MMT: You say Aalbers plans to create 33 new jobs, what positions?  

Toni Hansen: "We will be hiring experienced designers, CNC machinists, moldmakers, as well as trainees for these positions."

MMT:  What specific types of new state-of-the-art equipment do you plan to invest in and why?

Toni Hansen: "We will be purchasing  larger high-speed five-axis CNC machines as well larger CNC EDMs, horizontal machining centres and boring mills, in order to increase the capacity of our manufacturing base, both in size and capacity. Also, we will be investing heavily in automated processes, such as robotic loading of machines, in order to keep the machines operating longer, with less downtime."

MMT: How will your employee training change as a result of this grant?

Toni Hansen: "We currently train, and have trained, internally since we started the business, but we want to be able to set up a specific training area for all departments within Aalbers. This will help us train to our specific needs and processes."

MMT:  You mentioned that Aalbers is planning a $10-million investment in equipment and training over the next five years. Can you explain that plan?

Toni Hansen: "The plan is to spend approximately $2 million each year on new machinery, along with whatever is required for software, tooling and auxiliary equipment. This will give us the time to make sure each piece is set up properly, cutting efficiently and our operators are properly trained to keep the equipment cutting at optimum speed and efficiency."



By: Matthew Danford 23. March 2015

Let the Good Times Roll


Data from the fourth quarter confirms that 2014 was the fifth straight year in which shipments of plastics machinery increased. At least one industry expert says things are looking good this year, as well.

That tidbit courtesy of the latest report on machinery shipments from SPI: the Plastics Industry Trade Association’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES). Read the full report. 

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