By: Christina M. Fuges 29. July 2014

Video: MMT Visits Linear Mold to See Additive Manufacturing in Action

Linear Mold & Engineering is an innovative leader in tool building and part manufacturing using additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The company uses production 3D printing not only to "grow" metal parts that couldn't be made any other way, but also to create mold inserts with cooling lines that conform to the curves of the mold for improved heat transfer.  Peter Zelinski and I, co-editors of Additive Manufacturing, visited Linear to film this video.


By: Matthew Danford 28. July 2014

An Education that’s Worth the Trip

Ingersoll’s annual Die & Mold Seminar was well-attended this year. (Photo courtesy of Ingersoll Cutting Tools).

A few weeks ago, I dropped by Ingersoll Cutting Tools’ campus in Rockford, Illinois for its annual Die & Mold Seminar. During one presentation, die mold product manager William Fiorenza briefly commented on why making molds requires a different mindset than running production parts. Molds, he noted, aren’t high-quantity items, and they certainly don’t offer the luxury of pilot runs. The process has to be right the first time. Compared to other segments of the industry, this makes it even more critical to understand precisely how every element of machining, from the CAM system to the CNC to the spindle and cutting tool, works in concert to deliver a quality part.

In my view, that makes it particularly important for moldmakers to look beyond their own four walls to keep knowledge current. Even if it’s hard to justify a day or two away from the shop, supplier open houses and seminars are a great way to do that, particularly when they’re focused solely on our corner of the industry.

The Die & Mold Seminar didn’t disappoint. This wasn’t just a platform to showcase the company’s latest cutters. From the very outset, attendees were bombarded with general, need-to-know information, including how tool lengths and diameters affect deflection; the physics of chip formation; how tangential, radial and axial forces interact during machining; the difference between advance per tooth and feed per tooth; and far more—all geared specifically toward moldmaking operations.

In the same vein, a chief advantage of industry events is the opportunity to network, and that advantage is compounded at an event with a laser focus on die/mold manufacturers. After all, what better place to talk shop with others who face the exact same problems and competitive pressures on a daily basis? (Notably, attendees also got a first-hand look at the company's PVD coating process, which illuminated why this coating method is eclipsing CVD for milling applications).

If you missed it this year, keep in mind this is an annual event, and you can always come back in 2015. In the meantime, stop by Ingersoll’s IMTS booth W-1822, where the company will showcase a variety of products that attracted lots of attention at the seminar. These include the Hi-Quad F, a tool designed for demanding high feed cutting operations with robust, positive-geometry inserts; the Hi-Quad XXX, a good option for older machines or CNCs with limited lookahead capability; the FormMaster R, which is available with round inserts or serrated inserts for extended reach applications and improved chip management; and the Hi Feed Midi, which offers similar advantages as the High Feed Mini at deeper cutting depths.

Another notable offering was the Typhoon HSM Jet Spindle. Available through Ingersoll and manufactured by Colibri Spindles, this auxiliary spindle uses coolant pressure to increase machine tools’ rpm capabilities. Click here to learn more.

By: Christina M. Fuges 25. July 2014

Passion for How Things Work (and How They Can Be Made Better)

Celeste Boies is a 26-year-old supply chain, engineering/operations assistant at Westminster Tool for the past seven months. She has her AS in Engineering Science and previously worked as a retail pharmacy technician for seven years. Her five-year goal is to earn her bachelors degree in plastics engineering and work to revise/improve existing plastic injection molding procedures to increase efficiency and quality.

Learn more about Celeste's background and current work at Westminster here.

Now it's time to meet our last brat pack member, Benyuan (Ben) Hu. He is also 26 years old, and came to Westminster with a master of science in mechanical engineering from the University of New Haven.

Ben has been with Westminster for two years. Prior to that he was a research assistant helping Yale medical school analyze a heart stent project using CFD software. He also helped a professor in China design radiant floor heating system including heat loads calculations and water pipe pattern design.

Read more here.

By: Christina M. Fuges 24. July 2014

Brains Are Valued Resources

Alex Orphanos is a 24-year-old, full-time R&D engineer turned training coordinator at Westminster Tool. He has been with the company for a year and a half. He views the freedom and encouragement to experience different positions, as well as the opportunity to train and learn more as the greatest aspects of working at Westminster. His long-term goal is to work in the private space industry.

Alex was exposed to manufacturing through networking and then realized the value that manufacturing could bring to his engineering resume. "Working in manufacturing has helped me to become a better rounded engineer."

Alex started out at Westminster as an R&D Engineer and has recently transferred to training coordinator. He thnks this change will help him become a better engineer as it enables him to learn about the different phases of manufacturing while developing the training program.

Read more about Alex here.


Now let's meet Ronnie Fiero, a one-year apprentice machinist at Westminster. 

Ronnie is a technical high school graduate whose past work experience includes the Town of Thompson Board of Education.  He has his sights set on being a mechanical engineering technician at Westminster in five years. Ronnie sees his co-workers as the greatest aspect of working at Westminster. "They are always willing to help me or teach me something new."

When it comes to how he chose manufacturing, Ronnie says, "This industry appealed to me in the beginning of high school and I chose manufacturing as my trade and have continued to enjoy it ever since. With my internship at the shop, it moved me throughout different areas of work. While helping different employees I learned the essentials to molding components and what it takes to be a moldmaker."

The most important thing Ronnie has learned so far is that consistency of work and procedure is crucial. "Working a lot in assembly, I learned how being consistent provides lean manufacturing in large production projects."
His believes his greatest asset to Westminster Tool is his youth. It gives him an advantage because he has the ability, energy and willingness to learn more about the manufacturing industry.


By: Matthew Danford 23. July 2014

Easier Graphite Dust Removal


Graphite is messy stuff, and moldmakers commonly buy machines with options designed specifically for the abrasive material. Yet, the dust can still be hard to control—hard enough that many shops have no doubt found their own clever ways of dealing with it.

One such method came to my attention while attending a machining technology supplier's recent open house event. While taking me through the ins and outs of a product, an applications engineer noted that he's seen shops save a significant amount of time on graphite cleanup with a common household item: petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Simply spread the oily substance throughout the machine’s work envelope (or anywhere else the stuff accumulates), and the graphite dust will stick to it rather than the machine surface. Once the cycle stops, wipe clean.

It goes without saying that, as the applications engineer emphasized, this is certainly NOT a substitute for vacuum systems, air purges, protective covers and other features of machines designed specifically for graphite machining. Beyond that, this strategy seemed a bit, well, gross to me, and possibly even impractical. But then I've never tried it, either!

Have you? If so, I'd love to hear about it. Likewise, send me an email if you've come up with any other unorthodox way of dealing with graphite dust.

Of course, some shops prefer to avoid the mess of graphite entirely. Click here to learn why Chicago-area mold manufacturer B A Die Mold machines the vast majority of its electrodes from copper.

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