By: Cynthia Kustush 4. May 2016

Leading Your Industry: Chicago AMBA Sets the Pace


In my blog on Monday, I wrote about the great message Troy Nix, president of the American Mold Builders Association, shared about leading one’s company with cadence. He was the keynote speaker at the Chicago AMBA’s second annual Supplier Night. Today, I’m writing about leading our industry and how the AMBA’s Chicago Chapter continues to set the pace as it works to engage the next generation of makers.

As we’re all so keenly aware, the issue of filling the ever-present skills gap looms like a blimp floating in a clear summer sky. You can’t miss it, and many in our industry are having a tough time finding fresh, new talent to replace retiring employees. Well, for the last couple of years the Chicago AMBA, led by a great committee of chapter members including mold manufacturing business owners, supplier company team members and others, have been working very hard to break through and really connect with students, educators and parents. They are all stepping up and volunteering time to participate at trade events, career fairs, open houses, etc. to bring awareness that viable career opportunities in advanced manufacturing are ripe for the picking.

But all of these activities require funding. So Chicago AMBA Chapter President Francine Petrucci assembled the chapter’s education committee to find ways to raise the funds—and Supplier Night was the result. This year’s event was a tremendous success—bigger than last year’s—with 36 sponsoring exhibitor companies and more than 160 attendees overall. It was a full house and a great example of how our industry comes together to lead a great cause.

“This year, we had attendees from not just Illinois, but from Michigan and Wisconsin, including people from other AMBA chapters who wanted to see up close how we organize our event so they can do something similar in their chapters,” Petrucci says. In addition, participants comprised more than just management-level employees. There were many apprentices, machinists, mold builders and even human resources staff present, she says.

Proceeds from this event go directly to support all of the Chicago AMBA’s outreach efforts, including symposiums for educators and counselors where they can find out more about mold manufacturing and know that a college or university does not have to be the only career path a student takes to success.

I’m looking forward to blogging about other AMBA chapters who are following Chicago’s lead, and I welcome comments or information about any other industry organizations who are also working to make a meaningful connection with educators, students and parents.

By the way, if you’ll be attending the Amerimold Expo in June, be sure to stop by the AMBA’s booth #641 to say hello and find out more about the organization.


By: Christina M. Fuges 3. May 2016

MMT's May Digital Edition Is Available


This month MMT takes a look at how an alternative cutting tool geometry and the right CAM 
software can help reduce finish-machining times; how to unlock the true potential of magnetic workholding for machining mold bases and inserts; how the workpiece material and the process parameters of a sinker EDM operation can impact productivity and profitability; how in-house sampling of large coinjection molds gives one moldmaker an edge over its competition; and, how to choose the right wire and welding technique for aluminum mold repair.

Other coverage includes a profile of El Dorado Molds, a machining case study, common laser welding pitfalls, making ISO certification a profitable proposition, incentives for hiring veterans, an inspection/sofware tip, Part 1 of our Amerimold Exhibitor Product Showcase, our monthly MoldMaking Business Index and End Market Reports for Consumer Goods and Automotive.

Click here for our digital edition.


By: Cynthia Kustush 2. May 2016

Leading Your Business with Cadence

The American Mold Builders Association’s (AMBA) Chicago Chapter held its second annual Supplier Night Fundraiser for education on April 20. The event was a tremendous success, and I’ll report on just how successful in my next blog. What I want to focus on today is the message AMBA President Troy Nix put out there as the evening’s keynote speaker: The Cadence of Your Leadership.

What is the cadence of your leadership within your company? Nix asked that question, and he discussed how leadership is always more effective, more inspiring, when its tempo, or rhythm, is in step with those you lead. When it’s raising your team up versus pulling them down. When it shows the team that you see each member as an important component to the success of your company.

Now it’s easier to say this than to do it, right? Everyone is always so busy just working that there is not time to really know if your leadership is truly making a positive impact on others in your company. But Nix challenged attendees to try. He said: “Good Leaders, Know Thyself!” Well, it was a slide in his presentation, but he basically said it’s important to look within and find one’s cadence. Work to make it one that your team will want to follow and grow on and be proud of.

To help everyone find their cadence, he asked them to answer these five questions:

  1. Are you present as a leader?
  2. Are you focused on leadership skills?
  3. Are your people in step with your cadence?
  4. Do you have an employee engagement strategy? (Nix shared a snippet of the Global Employee Engagement Report that AON Hewitt Company recently issued and one of the findings states that “employee engagement will be the business challenge of the next decade and beyond.” Something to think about.)
  5. Do you know thyself?

Some attendees commented later that Nix’s presentation seemed to only focus on business owners, so employees who also attended the AMBA Chicago Supplier Night probably didn’t get much out of it. But I disagree. For one, many of those employees will probably own their own companies someday, so it’s important for them to hear Nix’s message. Even if they do not establish their own businesses, leadership with a strong cadence on all levels of a company makes an indelible impact on everyone. And as Nix’s slide says in the photo above this blog, “Why leadership? Because fractional improvements in leadership dramatically impact company performance as a whole!”

Find your cadence, leaders, and send it out to your teams so that they hear it loud and clear.


By: Randy Kerkstra 29. April 2016

The Designer's Edge: Your Shut-Down Procedure

Water connection coupler.

Don’t underestimate the value of a good shut-down procedure when it comes to rust issues. When running a mold on a chiller you are at risk for rust issues due to condensation, if shut-down is not done properly. When the mold is done running or going to sit idle, it should be brought up to room temperature and then have a protectant immediately applied. From a tool maintenance perspective, I recommend staying away from chillers. In some cases, chillers are used because the tool does not have adequate cooling designed in it.

Maintaining the water connections and o-rings is another area to consider. Water connections should be observed for leaks at PMs. Then if any leaks are observed in production, it should be addressed as soon as possible.

O-rings in the water connections will fail over time. Typically, most do not have a procedure for replacement, so the first evidence of a bad o-ring is a leak. Also when running molds with higher water temperatures (above 180 degrees), the water lines should be hard plumbed using fittings with a tapered surface to seal. As opposed to the standard water coupler connection using o-rings. This will reduce the chance of an injury with a water leak using high temperatures.

With internal o-rings l recommend replacement at every preventive maintenance to prevent issues. One thing a toolmaker does not like are components or cavity inserts being corroded with rust, these can be very difficult to remove when rusted.

Being in charge and/or maintaining tools in manufacturing, has taught me to address these issues promptly. Sometimes, by running hours of scrap after a preventive maintenance. Preventative maintenance meaning when the mold is completely disassembled, cleaned and new lubricants applied. I have found that some greases are more prone to cause bleeding if not applied properly and others to do not hold up well at high temperatures with high mechanical friction.

I have tried numerous greases on the market and not one covers all aspects and applications, but it is critical to find the right grease for your application to reduce issues and failures. It is also important to make sure your components are designed properly, using proper coatings and hardnesses to reduce failures. It is not always the lubricant at the root cause of mechanical failures.

In some cases greaseless tools are a necessity, which can achieve good maintenance results if properly designed and components are coated. Typically, for high volume tools I spec 100,000 cycles between PMs for most materials and tools, but with higher temperatures and glass-filled materials I set the spec at 50,000 cycles. However, there are always cases where those cycle counts are too high. 

By: Christina M. Fuges 28. April 2016

What Do You Really Know about Mold Cooling?


Do you ever ask yourself why cycle time matters? Although the level of impact may vary across the supply chain, one thing is certain: reducing cycle times can lead to hidden cost savings, such as required production quantities being reached sooner, machines opening up, avoiding capacity tooling, avoiding machine purchases and avoiding plant build-outs. And with cooling and recovery making up 80 percent of the injection molding cycle, it is the perfect place for improvement to help reduce cycle times. The key to this improvement is using analysis.  Listen to this archived webinar to learn how to achieve optimal cooling through analysis.

Tim Lankisch from CAE Services explains how cooling analysis can provide the ability to accurately simulate any number of cooling designs to optimize part quality and reduce cycle times, how cycle time impacts profitability, how the mold design impacts cooling, how proper processing can reduce cycle times and identify potential warpage issues.

He also shares tips for the supply chain. For example, molders and OEMs must insist on analysis, know their GPM for each line and do the math (what does X seconds of cycle savings mean?); part designers need to avoid difficult-to-cool areas, where possible and have an analysis team help with rib placement; moldmakers should follow cooling suggestions from the analysis and be creative and test using analysis; and, material suppliers should provide robust material testing. 

To hear more from Tim as well as the answers to many attendee questions on the topic--such as, How do you calculate the average velocity of coolant to calculate the GPM? Do you get the cooling time out of Moldflow or do you set a time and see if it works? How do you determine the appropriate cycle time for a specific material type?-- click here.

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