By: Christina M. Fuges 21. April 2015

Listen and Learn

Back in the fall I told you about Northwoods Manufacturing, a student-run manufacturing business running out of Hurley High School in Hurley, Wisconsin. Well, things have advanced quite a bit and next month it is holding its second annual open house.

Northwoods' main goal is to give students real manufacturing experience at school, teaching real-world applications and soft skills. Students participate in welding/fabricating, machining, engineering, marketing, sales, business and more. Northwoods has greatly improved since last year and it has had some major changes, including manufacturing parts for local industry, new equipment and new students. The open house will take place on Friday, May 15th from 9am to 6pm at 5503 W. Range View Dr. in Hurley, Wisconsin 54534. Check it out to see how you can implement such a program in your area. 

On a related note, Jacob Hostettler of Northwoods Manufacturing will be presenting alongside Craig Ceigleski of Cardinal Manufacturing as part of MMT's 20156 Educational Webinar Series on August 25, Getting Real about Manufacturing Education to Fill the Skills Gap. This webinar will review how to develop a program that functions as a student-run manufacturing business in which the students manage customers, make products, meet deadlines, face challenges and make money in the process.  Click here to register for free today. To get the most out of these webinars, consider tuning in with a group, take and share notes, and, most importantly, ask questions! 

20. April 2015

Laying the Foundation for a Modern Process

Extreme Tool & Engineering needed a high-precision machine to limit benchwork on molds like this one. This article details that machine's role in spurring a critical transition at the shop. 

In the little more than a year I’ve spent covering this industry, I’ve heard one particular phrase repeated over and over again: “mold making to mold manufacturing.” This describes a change in thinking—in essence, the adoption of high-production principles to the relatively high-mix, low-volume environment that characterizes a typical mold shop. From what I’ve gathered, making that change is not only extremely challenging, it’s virtually required to succeed these days.

Yet, there's also a far more basic requirement to making this critical transition: the right technology. Standardizing processes often just isn’t possible with the machines of yesteryear.

For evidence of that, consider the experience of Extreme Tool and Engineering. Whatever else the shop may have done, it couldn't have fully changed its ways without the right machine, one precise enough to limit downstream benchwork. That’s because benchwork is done by hand, and anything done by hand leads to a level of variation that’s simply unacceptable for a modern mold manufacturing operation. This March-issue case study details how the 640V3 vertical jig borer from Yasda (represented by Methods Machine Tools) helped pave the shop's way.

By: Randy Kerkstra 17. April 2015

The Designer's Edge: Plastic Part Sticking, Part 3

Today I will discuss options for holding the part to the core when the part is sticking in the cavity. As I mentioned in Part 2, the most common approach is adding undercuts to the core with a rounded burr and pencil grinder. Just monitor the depth to prevent flaking. Another option is adding more rows of undercuts instead of going deeper with the first undercut. This entails part design approval to ensure the part's fit or function is not affected.  

I advise using a dove-tailed burr and then grind down the ends, so it can act as a positive stop, allowing it to cut only as deep as modified (see image). This reduces the risk of flaking with the angled lead-in compared to the undercut from the rounded burr. This also works with cold slug wells. 

Another option, although less aggressive than hand grinding undercuts, is using a $40.00 Dremel engraver with a sharp pointed tip. You can quickly add a fine stipple to the cavity surface, which helps hold the part in place.

For example, on an ABS part years ago we had an issue with the part sticking in the cavity half. We added rows of undercuts on areas on the core half. This did help the process window, but sticking was still an occasional issue with technicians trying to process around it. We used an engraver and put a fine stipple on the undercuts and cavity walls. The part then stuck so bad to the core that the ejection pins pushed right through the part. Remember this was a rigid ABS part.

Media blasting the core half with aluminum oxide is another less aggressive approach and can have a big impact on parts sticking to the cavity half. For severe sticking issues, adding a texture (acid etched) to the core half may work well.

Next month, we'll take a look at surface finishes and ways to stop parts from sticking to components such as slides and lifters.


Randy will be speaking at Amerimold Expo on June 17, 2015 on "Overcoming Repair and Part Quality Challenges with Design." Click here to register to attend.


By: Christina M. Fuges 16. April 2015

Seeking Deserving Moldmakers and Mold Designers

Each year the Mold Making and Mold Design Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) searches for award recipients for its Mold Maker and Mold Designer of the Year Awards, which are presented during the Amerimold Expo taking place this June 17-18 in Rosemont, Illinois.

These Awards are sponsored by DME and Progressive Components, respectively. Recipients are awarded $500.00, which will be donated on their behalf to a technical school of their choice.

The following briefly outlines nomination criteria:

  • Is or was a moldmaker/mold designer
  • Has made a contribution to the industry or society
  • Has strong technical experience
  • Has a reputation for conducting business in a fair and honest manner
  • Does not have to be an active member of SPE

To enter a candidate for either nomination, please submit name to Scott Peters at  You will be requested to follow up with a biographical sketch, outlining the individual’s experiences and credentials. The Division Board will select the award recipients based on the merits of the candidates.

Give someone you know the recognition he or she deserves and nominate a candidate today!

For consideration please remember that May 15, 2015 is the nomination deadline.

By: Matthew Danford 15. April 2015

A Challenging but Worthwhile Endeavor

So far, mold sampling capability has exceeded expectations at Diamond Tool & Engineering.

Our March-issue profile article covered how automation, cross training and a drive to keep fixed costs low has contributed to recent growth at Diamond Tool & Engineering. Yet, the article only briefly touches on one of the most significant recent developments at this rural Minnesota mold manufacturer: the addition of the shop’s first injection press, a Toshiba EC140SX. Purchased less than a year ago to sample tools for customers (Diamond has no plans to get into the molding business), the new machine has already proven its worth.

At first, however, the shop’s leadership was slightly apprehensive about such a large investment, even though “running the numbers” beforehand convinced them it was the right move, says Kent Smith, company president. “After all the planning and commitment to move forward, would we see the results we were looking for?” he recalls wondering. “Would the investment pay off?”

Such questions are understandable. After all, running a mold is a lot different than making one. For that reason, Diamond Tool decided to seek outside expertise—something that can be hard to find these days. “Luckily, we were able to hire a very good, local process engineer and avoid that hurdle,” says Bryan Amiot, project manager. “I think it would have been difficult to learn to run the machine and do the processing, not to mention the time that would be needed for this."   

Still, adding this new capability wasn’t exactly easy. Amiot says choosing the right machine was among the shop’s greatest challenges. Determining which size machine could sample the widest variety of molds required a great deal of research, as did determining which auxiliary equipment and accessories would be required to get started. Integrating the machine and auxiliary equipment was also challenging because, as detailed in the aforementioned profile article, floorspace is at a premium at Diamond Tool. Meanwhile, the shop has lost any breathing room it might have had after shipping a mold for outside sampling. Now, it has to be prepared to work on it again immediately in the (rare) instances when that's required.

The mold shop must now be prepared to act immediately in the event that a tool needs work after sampling.

Of course, that also means Diamond Tool can react far more quickly to any problems that do arise. That—and sampling capability in general—means happier customers. In fact, feedback from customers indicates they’re even happier about the new capability than the shop had initially anticipated. For Smith, Amiot and crew, that makes their significant investment more than worth it. “I am a little surprised about how much positive feedback we have been receiving from our customers,” Amiot says. “I was expecting some benefit, but this has exceeded my expectations.”

“We have actually sampled about 95 percent of all the molds built by Diamond tool in our own facility. We were hoping for about 80 percent,” Smith adds. “Our goal here at Diamond Tool and Engineering is our molds met customer expectations 100% of the time the first time in their molding machine. We are tracking this number at this time at 97%.” 

For more information on what makes Diamond Tool & Engineering tick, read our March-issue profile article. 

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