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By: Christina M. Fuges 29. January 2015

Upping Your Game with Sampling

We have seen a definite trend in mold manufacturers adding or increasing their sampling or full production molding capabilities, and packaging, personal care and medical moldmaker Dynamic Tool & Design is one such company making the investment. 

Dynamic completed a new technology center at its Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin facility last fall. The 17,000-square foot addition increased total square footage to 51,000 square feet and provides space for in-house sampling and training.

The Technology Center houses five molding machines ranging from 80 tons to 650 tons (two are multi-shot capable), which allow for in-house sampling and mold qualification. The Technology Center also enhances in-house training for mold operation and mold maintenance.

Floor space and other resources have been set aside to provide for turnkey projects.

"A customer can have a press shipped to Dynamic and we will build and install a mold in that press, sample, debug and qualify the entire project. We then ship it to the customer ready for production," notes Tom Andrews, Dynamic's Operations Manager.

"Customers rely on Dynamic to help them develop new and improved products, and the technology center has expanded that capability. High quality prototyping is our forte, so with moldmaking and molding facilities under one roof, part changes happen quickly and efficiently," says Dave Miller, Dynamic President.

 


By: Matthew Danford 28. January 2015

Last Chance to Enter Leadtime Leader Competition

Now in its 13th year, the Leadtime Leader Awards honors North American operations that demonstrate innovation, efficiency, quality and commitment in mold building, engineering, repair and management.  

Are you proud of your mold manufacturing business? Would you consider it to be successful? Have you experienced growth, added capabilities, reached new milestones, or otherwise moved your company forward in the past couple of years? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it would be a crime to miss out on our Leadtime Leader competition, which wraps up Friday, January 30. After all, the potential benefit far outweighs the few minutes it might take to fill out the form.

For evidence of that, look no further than the experience of last year's winner, Westminster Tool. This Connecticut injection mold manufacturer received a MoldMaking Technology article and a video highlighting its strategies for rapidly expanding services and capabilities without getting overwhelmed by its own growth.

Given that the article was our June-issue cover story, Westminster got maximum exposure to our roughly 20,000 North American subscribers, a number that includes a relatively sizeable portion of molders and OEMs in addition to toolmakers. That issue was also distributed at the annual Amerimold show, where Westminster received the award and an honorary plaque at a ceremony in front of show attendees.

Andy Joly, senior toolmaker at Westminster Tool (right), looks on as apprentice machinist Brian Johnston reassembles a mold and prepares it for validation. Read the article to learn more about the shop's workforce development efforts. (Photo courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.)

Beyond robust editorial coverage and formal recognition at the show, this year’s Leadtime Leader award winners will receive a free, 10- by 10-foot booth at Amerimold (scheduled for June 17-18 in Rosemont, Illinois) and special, targeted advertising program with our sister publication, Plastics Technology (and thus, exposure to even more potential customers).

In fact, you don’t even have to win to increase your exposure through Leadtime Leaders. The runner-up will be recognized with an Honorable Mention award as well as its own video and feature article (last year's Honorable Mention went to Aalbers Tool and Mold). Even if you don't make either of the top two slots, I may end up calling you later for future coverage if I'm intrigued by the material in your questionairre. 

Don't miss out on this oppportunity. Apply here (and rest assured all information is confidential and used only in the selection process, which is conducted by MoldMaking Technology in consultation with our Editorial Advisory Board. Should you win, you’ll have the opportunity to review any resulting editorial prior to publication). 


By: Mike Zacharias 27. January 2015

A From the Trenches Reshoring Perspective

 

Having owned businesses on both sides of the ocean has allowed me to see the effects of reshoring from two different perspectives.

I see reshoring as a trend that is good for all parties involved when the reasons for reshoring are identified and understood. The cost differential between U.S.-built tooling and Asian tooling continues to grow smaller and smaller. So does the quality expectation of molds built in both locations.

China provides the fastest growing market in the world for many industries including automotive, medical and packaging. I believe that over time the trade deficit will continue to decrease as both domestic and foreign entities sell into this market (versus solely exporting from it).

U.S. moldmakers who made it through our most difficult days have been forced to become much more efficient and produce higher quality levels than ever expected in the past. This has prepared them to tackle the challenges presented each day and better prepare them for our future.

I'm an avid sports fan at every level: high school, college and professional. I consistently hear fans talk about the concept of “playing down to the level of our competition” or needing to "play better teams to get better".

Is this any different in the “mold world”? Are we not all better competitors today than we were five years ago because we were forced to do so?

Reshoring is real, and it is good for everyone.


By: Matthew Danford 26. January 2015

VIDEO: The Value of Collaborating with Competitors

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CS Tool Engineering, a mold manufacturer in Cedar Springs, Michigan, credits the addition of a Makino a82 HMC with a pallet changer and modular fixturing system for reducing setup time by half. The shop’s experience demonstrates that such features aren’t useful only for production environments. Streamlining setups can be equally beneficial for a high-mix, low-volume operation like a mold shop, particularly for engineering changes. That story is told in the video above, produced by Makino, as well as this January issue case study.

However, CS Tool’s experience with the a82 offers lessons not just about technology, but also the potential value of working with peers to address common challenges—including workforce development. Consider that the shop might never have been interested in a pallet changer or modular fixturing without seeing these features in action. Notably, operations manager Don Snow says some of the most convincing demonstrations occurred not at any Makino location, nor at the local Single Source Technology (SST) facility that supplied the machine. “It wasn’t until I saw this type of machine in action in other mold shops, and talked with other owners, that I began to see the benefits,” he says.

This sort of thing has become more common lately, says the 25-year veteran of CS Tool. “In the last 10 to 15 years of being in the trade, the relationships with peers and competitors has helped us grow,” he says. “Even though those companies compete with us, they opened up and showed us what they do. That really means a lot.” (Of course, this sort of collaboration goes both ways. For instance, one of the shop’s Tier 1 supplier customers purchased an a82 after seeing CS Tool’s success with it.)

What does all this have to do with workforce development? Snow puts it this way: “As we attract folks into the trade, we also need to mentor them in the trends and future initiatives. This is a changing industry, and to keep up, you must know what your peers in the industry are doing. There is a demand for it.”

The shop owes part of its change in mindset not to the pallet changer, but this FCS fixturing system from Single Source Technologies.

Workforce development is a subject that Snow knows a lot about. In fact, his efforts in this area earned him the 2014 “Mold Builder of the Year” award from the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), and one of those efforts is collaborative by nature. CS Tool is part of the Whitehall Township Tooling Coalition, an alliance of eight Western Michigan companies with a common need for attracting fresh talent to the trade.

That brings me to one final point. I understand why shops might be wary of anything that might shed light on “secret sauce,” particularly when it comes to manufacturing strategies. Still, however, I’m confident that even the most reticent businesses can find common ground somewhere. Workforce development is perhaps the lowest-hanging fruit, but there are plenty of other topics to discuss as well. For instance, as detailed in this article from last year, the OESA Tooling Forum’s discussions tend to revolve around broader, strategic topics like dealing with payment terms of automotive OEMs.

Regardless of the nature of collaboration, I hope that Snow’s comments about shops being more open lately are indicative of a wider trend. One encouraging development is the annual mold shop tour conducted by the AMBA. One business owner who opened his shop up for that event noted that competition is global, and in all likelihood, North American mold manufacturers will rise or fall together in the coming decades. Learning from one another and avoiding making the same mistakes can go a long way toward keeping customers sourcing close to home rather than abroad.


By: Randy Kerkstra 23. January 2015

The Designer's Edge: Newsflash on Flash

Typical flash.

Flash is impossible to have if three conditions are met--two of which fall directly on the mold.

All shut-offs or parting lines must be “true net,” meaning there are no gaps, damage or anything holding the mold open.

The tool must be robust enough to prevent deflection both in line with clamp force and perpendicular to clamp force.

Clamp pressure on the injection molding machine must exceed plastics pressure from the cavity surface area.

It is important to understand these three conditions. If you have two mating surfaces perfectly matched, the tool is robust enough to prevent deflection and clamp pressure exceeds cavity pressure, then absolutely nothing can penetrate the mating surfaces. Venting is often raised at this point. It is a valid point that I will discuss down the road.

In upcoming posts I will take an indepth look at each rule/condition, but today I want to define flash and how it can be misdiagnosed. I have observed many people misinterpreting mismatch or rolled cavity edges as flash.

On rolled cavity edges, the defect can be felt from both directions. Plus, on some critical parting lines a very small rolled edge can create the defect. I have seen parts with a rolled edge of .003 cause an issue. This can easily happen during the polishing process if the bench hand is not very careful.  

Rolled edge.

 

With parting line mismatch, the defect can only be felt from one direction.

Mismatch.

 

Another defect is“feather flash, ” which is a result of a lack of clamp force on the molding machine. The tool is blown open allowing plastic to leak between the two parting lines. Then when plastic pressure resides, the clamp force pinches the flash causing feather flash.

Feather flash.

 

Critical mold areas that require support to prevent deflection are typically in the center or the runner and gate areas. The center being the weakest area of the mold and the gates and runner areas experience extreme plastic pressures.

My next post (on February 6th) will focus on tool and design to reduce tool deflection.



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