By: Christina M. Fuges 28. July 2015

Making an Impact

The National office of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) recently awarded $10,000 in scholarship funds for 2015. This year's recipients are showing they are willing to learn and eager to make an impact in manufacturing.

Each year, the AMBA awards scholarships to the employees or dependents of employees of AMBA member companies to help facilitate education in moldmaking in the U.S. by assisting students who desire to pursue a career in 1) mold design, CAD/CAM programming for machine tools, machine tool skills or moldmaking, 2) plastics industry manufacturing (including plastics engineering, plastic part design or plastics processing technicians) or 3) other related areas of continued training/education.

The 2015 recipients of a $1,000 (including their respective AMBA member companies) are:

  1. Christian Seaver, attending Muskegon Community College (Viking Tool & Engineering Inc.)
  2. Andrew Davis, attending Waukesha County Technical College (Imperial Tool & Plastics)
  3. Corey Bucholz, attending Moraine Park Technical College (RAM Tool, Inc.)
  4. Jeremy Palmer, attending Precision Manufacturing Institute (Tech Molded Plastics)
  5. Justin Pickar, attending Saint Paul College (Mo-Tech Corp.)
  6. Thomas Lang, attending Waukesha County Technical College (Imperial Tool & Plastics)
  7. Austin Harris, attending Tri County Technical College (JMMS, Inc.)
  8. Taylor Beck, attending Precision Manufacturing Institute (Tech Molded Plastics)
  9. Robert Weaver, attending Saint Paul College (Mo-Tech Corp.)
  10. Cody Smits, attending Ferris State University (CS Tool Engineering)


"AMBA gives students a pathway to limitless opportunities in school and life, and I am very thankful. This scholarship has enabled me to excel and complete my associate's degree in CAD/drafting/tool design. I am currently pursuing a degree in product design at Ferris State University. This also allowed me to put funds towards competing in SkillsUSA at the national level, and place in the top four in the United States, two times," says recipient Cody Smits.

"Cody is doing a great job working for us part-time and through the summer.  He has made an impact in our engineering area and is always willing to learn from the more experienced engineers and CAD designers.  I have been on our local AMBA scholarship committee, and in reviewing his grades as part of the scholarship selection process it is a true joy to see someone excelling in all of his classes. It is our hope that we can keep him upon graduation in a couple years," says Don Snow, operations manager at CS Tool & Engineering.

To find out more click here.

By: Matthew Danford 27. July 2015

Moldmaker Makes the Times


My last blog post covered U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s visit to Ameritech Die & Mold, which runs an apprenticeship program that the cabinet secretary and others believe could be replicated elsewhere in the nation. However, the shop is getting attention from more than just the federal government. The fact that Ameritech recently appeared in The New York Times was mentioned in my post, but I think it also deserves a shout-out of its own.

That’s for a couple of reasons. First, few mold manufacturers can claim to have ever appeared in “The Gray Lady,” and that’s worth celebrating. Similarly, as is the case with the secretary’s visit, it’s worth celebrating that an issue this industry has struggled with for so long is getting attention in one of the most prestigious, storied publications in the country (on the first page of the business section, no less). Above all, the article is a really good read.   

By: Randy Kerkstra 24. July 2015

The Designer's Edge: Stationary Vent Pins and Inserts


Stationary pins or inserts, which are sometimes a necessity to assist with venting, should be designed with ease of assembly and disassembly in mind, as they require cleaning. The vent depth and land length also become more critical when attempting to make pins and inserts as self cleaning as possible.
If designed properly, these inserts or pins will only need to be cleaned at normal preventative maintenance cycles. When venting stationary inserts or core pins in rib or part details, I recommend going no more than 0.030 to 0.040 land, and using maximum vent depths. This will get the inserts and pins as self cleaning as possible. 
Porous materials can also be used in problem or back fill areas. However, these materials require the mold shop to understand the proper machining or EDMing of the part surface to prevent plugging the pores, and vent channels or holes to reduce the area the gases need to escape. Additionally, proper cleaning methods are necessary.
Components, such as slides and lifters, do not always get designed with venting in mind. Typically, these actions have details that create gas traps and knit lines that need to be vented. In most cases, it is easy to add venting in the problem areas. With lifters there would be a parting line in the detail where you can add a vent track and exit down the lifter shank to atmosphere. The same goes with slides and adding venting to the shut-offs and easily exiting to atmosphere.
Next month,  I will examine venting shut-off details as well as a unique, rare occurrence with venting.

By: Christina M. Fuges 23. July 2015

CAM Standards and Credentials

Autodesk Inc., a developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) have partnered to develop the first-ever industry recognized CAM standards and credentials, which will enhance education and training programs to meet 21st century demands for skilled CAM programmers, designers and engineers. This should account for almost 100,000 new jobs by 2024, according to EMSI Analysis.

To help develop these standards, Autodesk and NIMS recruited industry leaders to participate in a Technical Work Group, whose kick-off meeting was held this past June. Industry experts from major companies including Google, NASA, DMG / MORI Seiki USA, HAAS Automation, Delcam, Parker Hannifin/Sandia National Laboratory and Monkey Likes Shiny participated in the session and will lead the Technical Work Group.

After development of the skills standards, NIMS will conduct a rigorous national validation process, holding regional reviews of the standards by industrial professionals, before releasing the standards to the public.

For more information on CAM standard and credential development, contact NIMS Director of Marketing, Christine Hubley here.


By: Matthew Danford 22. July 2015

Feds Intrigued by North Carolina Apprenticeship Programs

Secretary Perez (center) visited Ameritech with U.S. Reps Robert Pittenger (R) and Virginia Foxx (R), both visible to the right. As implied by the message on the back of this apprentice's shirt, many of the company's newer hires could have a virtually debt-free pathway to the middle class. (Image courtesy of US Department of Labor, Public Affairs.)  

“If we had more Ameritechs, we’d have even more success as a country.”

Courtesy of a recent article in the Statesville Record & Landmark, that quote came direct from U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez during a recent visit to Mooresville, North Carolina-based plastic injection mold manufacturer Ameritech Die & Mold. Along with U.S. Reps. Robert Pittenger (R) and Virginia Foxx (R), the secretary toured the shop June 30 to learn more about its efforts with Apprenticeship 2000, a workforce development program that Ameritech joined as a founding member nearly two decades ago. 

Although this program has been covered extensively in various media outlets (MMT did a Q&A with Ameritech president Steve Rotman just last year), I was excited to hear that it’s getting attention from the highest levels of government. Rotman, for his part, was even more excited to tell me about it. Beyond positive exposure for his own shop, the visit validates Ameritech's approach to workforce development--an approach based on a model that’s helped ensure a bountiful pool of skilled labor in countries like Switzerland and Germany since the Middle Ages. Just as importantly, it provides further indication that more than just industry types recognize the skilled worker shortage as a potentially crippling barrier to our competitiveness.

Steve Rotman, Ameritech president (far left), confers with Secretary Perez and U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger. (Image courtesy of US Department of Labor, Public Affairs.)

Indeed, this past December, President Barack Obama and the Department of Labor announced $100 million in funding to expand apprenticeships for American workers. Meanwhile, Secretary Perez has been touring various companies in search of workforce development program models that could be replicated on a national level. The aforementioned article provides a more in-depth look at his tour of Ameritech, but that’s not the only North Carolina mold manufacturer he’s met with in recent months. Back in February, he met with members of the North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP), including Robbie Earnhardt, president of Wake Forest-based Superior Tooling. Notably, NCTAP is based on the same basic model as Apprenticeship 2000, which members credit with helping to get the newer organization off the ground.

All of this is driving plenty of media attention, too, and that includes more than just this publication and the local newspaper mentioned above. Last week, the New York Times published a terrific overview of recent efforts in workforce development, and that article includes a direct shout-out to Ameritech. It's well worth a read. 

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