5. February 2016

The Designer’s Edge: Lifter Rods

Round lifter rods are maintenance friendly when performing repairs. Typically, a nitrided ejector pin will be used because the center is soft to drill and tap. When using round lifter rods, it is critical to key the rod to prevent rotation and damage to the lifter and cavity.

Square lifter shanks can also be used, but their repair work is a little more involved. If a square lifter is bent or broken, you cut the shank where it is positioned in the bearing surface and splice a new shank with a notch. Then bolt and dowel it. Whether the lifter is hardened steel or alloy, you can use P-20 material and nitride it.

The lifter slide (in the ejector plates) should also move freely by hand with no dragging to reduce the chance of wear or failure. This is especially recommended when the lifter is decelerated or accelerated, as this adds more mechanical friction. This is used when the lifter detail or undercut in the part is on an angle and not parallel with the parting line, which means the lifter will need to travel more or less than the ejection to pull on the angle of the part detail. The lifter slide pocket will be machined on an angle, so as the ejection travels forward, the lifter will either be above the ejection with an accelerated slide or below with a decelerated slide. See image.

A lifter that has decelerated travel. When the ejection is all the way forward, the lifter will be lower than the rest of the ejection.

 consideration to tool design involving lifters is how to hold the part in position without sticking to a lifter. A common method is to add ring detail on the ejector pins to hold the part in position. This prevents the part from traveling with or sticking to the lifter. Also, with some flexible materials such as PP, it is necessary to have an ejector pin or straight lifter bar going up the side wall of the part to prevent the part from flexing and sticking to the lifter. In a few cases push pins can be used on the lifter detail to assist with part release from the lifter See image.

A lifter that has push pins designed in to prevent the part from sticking to the lifter detail. The pins are in red and the yellow represent the springs.


By: Christina M. Fuges 4. February 2016

MMT's February Digital Edition is Available

This month's technical features take a look at what works in rough milling applications with solid carbide end mills; how portable, direct computer controlled coordinate measurement can streamline processes and reduce inspection backlog; how incorporating multiple-gate nozzles means smaller molds, small presses, a balanced fill rate, reduced residence time, temperature control and design flexibility; and how advanced process cooling technology can optimize mold performance.

Regular departments include a profile of JMMS, a software case study, Under the Scope on understanding the repair task, Keeping Up with ISO reviews changes to clauses 4-6, The Bottom Line breaks down various accounting methods for mold shops and our Tip of the Month share pointers on how to avoid mold reload and rework with machine probes. 

The issue also includes our monthly Gardner Business Index: MoldMaking, End Market Reports on the medical and packaging industries and a Product Focus on hot runner technology.

Click here for your digital edition.


3. February 2016

Honoring Apprentices Builds Morale, Pride in Moldmaking



Last night I had the pleasure to attend the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) Chicago Chapter dinner meeting, during which six young apprentices were honored by the mold shops that employ them via a nomination, submitted by their supervisors, for the chapter’s Mold Your Career Award.

Bryan Hale, a two-year apprentice moldmaker at Pelco Tool and Mold in Glendale Heights, Illinois, won this year’s award, including a plaque and a $1,000 gift card to DGI Supply, sponsored by Schmolz+Bickenbach and DGI Supply. There was no denying the feeling of pride Bryan felt as he went to the podium to accept his award.

Bryan is maintaining an A average at the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA), where he is taking formal apprentice training courses. Prior to attending TMA training, Bryan took the initiative to enroll in and complete the manufacturing certification program at Harper College to begin his career in the manufacturing industry. He is independently learning the application of G Code programming on CNC Machinery.  He has received his certification in Safety, Maintenance Awareness; Quality Practices and Measurement; Process & Production; and Certified Production Technician. Clearly he is an apprentice who has earned his recognition, but the other five candidates were equally as deserving and should be proud of themselves.

I’d like to help honor each of the apprentices that were nominated and tell MMT readers a little about them. Each of the runners-up will be receiving a $200 gift card to DGI Supply courtesy of the AMBA and Synventive Solutions.

Rogelia Estrada is a first year apprentice moldmaker at A-1 Tool Corporation in Melrose Park, Illinois. His manager says he has “a great work ethic and a drive to succeed. He has been running the grinding department, keeping up with two shifts of machining, while still managing to clean molds.”

Christopher Gill is a second year apprentice moldmaker at Electroform Company in Machesney Park, Illinois. His supervisor says he “received off-site training from CAD/CAM Plus in 2d programming using SURFCAM Software.  He is now capable of writing offline programs, setup using probe sending technology and operating the FANUC controlled vertical milling machines.  He trained himself in the use of 2D Gibbs CAM for the lathe using internet tutorials and currently holds a GPA of 4.0 while working 50 hours per week.”

Adam Walsh is a four-year apprentice moldmaker at Electroform Company. Adam was exposed to Electroform’s Carbon Cutting Department this past year. Having spent the previous year training with Delcam’s PowerMill software, the transition was seamless.  After training on the Heidenhain controls for three months, Adam offered to move to our night shift, which has increased Electrofoam’s capacity tremendously.

Mickey Given is a three-year apprentice with programming and running a CNC lathe and vertical machining center at Do-Rite Die & Engineering in South Chicago Heights, Illinois. Mickey’s manager told how Mickey had to step up and fill the slot of Do-Rite’s VMC Machinist/Programmer who was on disability and Mickey has filled the void proficiently. Mickey took the WorkKey test and earned a Gold Score.

John Provenza is a one year apprentice mold engineer at Graphic Tool in Itasca, Illinois. According to his supervisor, John received his training at TMA and Harper College and has his Manufacturing and CNC Operator 1 Certifications. He designed his first mold and designed, programmed and manufactured multi-level fixture tooling. John also has bronze casting, aluminum casting and epoxy sand casting molding experience. John rebuilds and builds car engines and has a track car.

Congratulations to each and every one of these young apprentices, and kudos to the companies that are investing time and resources to train the next generation of mold manufacturers. It is a great thing when organizations like the AMBA’s Chicago Chapter dedicate an evening to honoring apprentices who are making their mark in the industry.

Learn more about AMBA Chicago’s work promoting mold manufacturing as a viable and rewarding career here; and check out MMT’s Next Generation videos and articles here.

By: Christina M. Fuges 2. February 2016

A Focus on Technology, Not Just Machines

Beneath the sun and mountains of Pfronten, Germany, sits a 79,000-square-foot facility focused on technology, not just machines. And last week it was the site for DMG MORI’s annual Open House, where 88 high-tech machines, six world premieres and an industry outlook were presented to visitors from around the globe, including me. Here, I want to share a few of the highlights that just may be of interest to you.

With its dates always at the beginning of the new year, this event serves as a nice indicator of the business year ahead, and according to Dr. Rudiger Kaptize, Chairman-Executive Board & CEO at DMG MORI AG and Executive Officer at DMG MORI Co. Ltd., the upcoming year “looks calm with no clear downward trend.” And with all the technology and innovation DMG MORI showcased during the week it’s hard not to get excited about the future.

One standout for me was the XXL Center that is dedicated to building 12 large machines per year and represents the company’s systems approach to improving its best sellers.  The machine that caught my eye (whose size alone gets your attention) was the DMU 600 Gantry linear, which is quite impressive for mold machining. This universal, high speed cutting machine is for five-side/five-axis machining of large workpieces and is said to set new standards in dynamics and surface quality.  Linear drives in the X, Y and Z axes permit highly dynamic finishing processes with optimal contour accuracy that yield significant productivity gains because post processing is greatly reduced. It’s made of a cast iron Y-crossbeam and X-traverse and the reinforced concrete side walls are part of the foundation. The standard version is designed for workpieces weighing up to 165 tons and a table measuring 16 x 10 feet in a work area of 20 x 12 x 5 feet.

Another highlight was the Lasertec 210 Shape for milling and laser texturing plastic injection molds up to 6.6 feet on one machine in one setup. A HSK-A63 or HSK-A100 interface allows changeover time from milling to laser operations in 5 minutes! This rigid machine permits unlimited design possibilities for geometrically-defined surface textures in free-form surfaces, does not require the use of chemicals, offers a fully digitized process chain and includes 3D texturing software from bitmap to the finished texture.

Advancements with the Lasertec 65 3D, the company’s hybrid laser deposition welding and milling machine for manufacturing, repair and coating, drew people to its display on the show floor. These include its now closed-loop process using the AM Analyzer that helps continually measure melt pool size and the laser powder to ensure a constant melt pool via a camera in the beam, multimaterial capability, two nozzle sizes (3mm and 1.6mm), exclusive hybrid CAD/CAM and an adaptive process control.

Other machine tool highlights include, the second generation of its CTX gamma 3000 TC, DMU 160 P and Ultrasonic 20 linear, the fourth generation of its duoBlock, the DMU 600 G linear and the Dixi 125. Celos + Industry 4.0 were also showcased to demonstrate the importance of integrating machines into a company via a Condition Analyzer that involves self-optimizing machines with more than 60 sensors that monitor temperature, vibration, lubricant and forces--X, Y linear guides with sensors for vibration and grease, Z linear guide with sensors for hydrostatic and compact guidance, bearing X,Y, Z axis with axial force sensors and a ball screw unit with a vibration sensor (axial and radial).

1. February 2016

Need Workers? Check Out This Qualified Source


It’s official. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) announced that it awarded a record number of credentials last year to individuals seeking to enter into or advance in jobs in the industry. In 2015, NIMS issued 21,420 industry-recognized credentials, resulting in a 20% increase in credentials issued in the United States from 2014.

When you consider that NIMS predicts our industry will need to fill over 100,000 jobs over the next decade, it's encouraging to know that more and more workers are preparing for entry or advancement within manufacturing.

Greg Chambers, Director of Compliance, Oberg Industries, Inc. and Chairman of the Board, NIMS, adds, “The need for skilled machinists, CNC programmers and operators, and industrial technology maintenance technicians is critical and is expected to grow between 19 to 24 percent over the next decade. NIMS credentials ensure that companies, workers, and students keep up with industry standards and job requirements and that training programs prepare individuals with the skills they need to enter and advance in these in-demand jobs.”

NIMS has developed skills standards ranging from entry-level to master-level that cover the breadth of metalworking operations and industrial technology maintenance. The organization also announced that it will soon add credentials in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to its portfolio of offerings in 2016-2017.

NIMS is a great place to start for finding potential talent that is ready and certified to work at your plant.


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