By: Christina M. Fuges 11. April 2014

Are You a 10?

To get your suggestion on the list, you need to enter, so visit: to submit your name and your Top 10 reason. Feel free to submit more than one suggestion, and let’s try to top last year’s list!

2013 Top 10 Reasons to Be a Moldmaker:
10. I do it for the chips.
9. We shape things to come.
8. We do it with precision.
7. We get to form the world around us.
6. A moldmaker has the power over shoot and ship.
5. The manly cutting fluid cologne.
4. We always leave a lasting impression.
3. We enjoy working with impossible deadlines.
2. Because metal slivers in your hands are the new wave in body piercing.
1. Moldmakers are good to the core.

Everyone who submits an entry will receive a free Exhibit Hall pass to amerimold 2014 ($25 value) and a “Top 10 Reasons to Be a MoldMaker” t-shirt. Authors of the submissions selected for the Top 10 will receive a free amerimold All-Access pass, which includes an Exhibit Hall pass, a Technical Conference pass ($295 value) and a ticket to the amerimold VIP Networking Reception ($50 value). Your name, title and company  also will be listed in the amerimold Event Directory.

The author of the No. 1 Reason to Be a MoldMaker will receive the amerimold All-Access pass and a $250 Visa gift card!

This t-shirt has been a tradition of MoldMaking Technology magazine since the early days of the MoldMaking Expo, in the ’90s. Each year, these shirts put the industry’s humor to the test. The winning 10 entries are revealed at our annual trade event, the amerimold expo, which is taking place this year on June 11-12 in Novi, Mich. We will be distributing the 2014 custom-printed t-shirts to amerimold attendees who stop by the MoldMaking Technology booth and complete a simple industry survey.

So, give me your “Top 10 Reasons to be a MoldMaker.” The funnier the better, so don’t hold back!

By: Christina M. Fuges 10. April 2014

MoldMaking Technology's April Digital Edition Is Now Available!

MoldMaking Technology's April issue features technical articles on balanced toolholder assemblies, inspection software that can help 3D CAD, 3D GD&T and measuring devices work together to ensure design intent, hot runner design considerations, examining a troubled tool from a design review perspective, and using software to support your automation agenda.

The issue also includes New Business Opportunities: carving a niche with multi-material sampling, Your Business: The role of an educational philosophy, MoldMaking Business Index,  Profile: Graphic Tool, a Case Study on graphite electrode machining, End Market Reports: aerospace and packaging; Product Focus and this month's Tip on cutting tools for pre-hard materials.

You can get your digital April issue here.

By: Matthew Danford 9. April 2014

Appearances Matter

Is your shop this clean and organized?

If perception is reality, as the old marketing saying goes, what do prospective customers and employees think of your shop?

I’d guess that’s a question that Meissner AG has considered before, judging from its impressive plant. Located about 45 minutes outside of Frankfurt, Germany, this manufacturer of foundry tooling, blow molds and tools for car trim parts gave me a tour during an excursion away from the Euromold show this past December. I wasn’t allowed to take my own photos, but having been there in person, I can tell you that the company-supplied shot above wasn’t staged. Judging from what I saw, this is an accurate rendition of what the production area looks like on a day to day basis—I could almost see my reflection in the floor.

That said, I must admit that I expected nothing less. Indeed, I was predisposed to being impressed before I even walked in the door. My expectations were based on nothing more than what I’d heard second-hand about German manufacturing, as well as that country’s general reputation for quality and reliability (a reputation that is widespread enough in our own culture that certain automakers are quick to capitalize on it in their marketing campaigns).

Unfortunately, U.S. manufacturing has a very different reputation, at least among lay people. Dirty, dangerous, antiquated—accurate or not, that’s what people very well may think of your shop, regardless of whether they’ve actually seen it first-hand. In my view, that makes keeping up appearances even more important. After all, such impressions are often cited as a major reason for the current shortage of skilled young people entering the trade (a problem that’s not nearly as pronounced in Germany, as detailed in this article about another company I visited there).

Granted, industry-types are likely to have more realistic perspectives. Nonetheless, keeping a clean, tidy shop is important for reasons that go beyond just acting as an ambassador for the industry. After all, the fact that I’ve visited a number of manufacturers didn’t prevent preconceived notions from impacting my visit to Meissner, even if I was aware of those notions. The case is likely the same for prospective customers and employees visiting your own shop, regardless of their experience. Who are these folks more likely to want to work with: a company with a production area that looks like the photo above, or one that resembles the dark, dismal environment of the popular imagination? For employees in particular, what message does a dirty, disorganized shop communicate about the standards to which they should aspire in their work?

It doesn’t take a huge leap of logic to see that cleanliness and orderliness can offer benefits that go far beyond the aesthetic. If you’ve seen these benefits first-hand, I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as learn about any particular efforts to keep things tidy. Comment below or send me an email.

By: Christina M. Fuges 8. April 2014

Attract New Customers with Full Product Development Solutions

MME group was founded in 1974 as a tool and die shop in St. Paul, Minn. Twenty years later, and before taking on production molding, the company discovered that short leadtimes for new tooling was a key component of the entire new product development process. The company became a leading tool shops in the Midwest by reducing the typical industry tool construction leadtime from 12 weeks to an average of four. They then applied those same principles for reducing mold building leadtimes to product development, which has helped them get their customers' products to commercialization fast.

“Reducing leadtimes for the tool build allows MME’s in-house tool shop to provide customers with engineering sample parts weeks ahead of offshore and domestic alternatives,” says company Vice President Brian Bussmann. “This helps advance projects into the testing and evaluation phase ahead of typical industry schedules.”
Today, MME group is a full service, vertically integrated, end-to-end, manufacturing solution provider with multiple deliverables including: product development, engineering, in-house tooling, collaborative product qualification, production molding, assemblies and supply chain management. All of this is delivered under the umbrella of ISO 13485 quality management. MME group proudly holds these quality certifications: ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 (Medical).


By: Matthew Danford 7. April 2014

Big Opportunities in Moldmaking

Brian Bernt, co-owner of Extreme Wire EDM, credits this massive Belmont BT155 EDM drill from Belmont Equipment and Technologies for bringing in much of the new work that has enabled the company to expand into a new facility that’s four times larger than its previous location. Learn more here.

True to its name, Extreme Wire EDM takes on the tough stuff—wire-cutting work that shops with broader capabilities can’t do on their own, whether because they lack the capacity, the expertise or the right equipment. Judging by the company’s recent growth (detailed in this article), such work is in particular demand in the mold industry, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of the shop’s business. When I asked for more specifics on what these customers are looking for, co-owner Brian Bernt’s response was immediate: large-part machining.

That makes sense to me, given that larger components are more difficult (and expensive) to ship. That makes this work more difficult (and expensive) to contract to offshore manufacturers. Although I haven’t seen any hard data recently, my conversation with Bernt is among the many pieces of anecdotal evidence I’ve come across suggesting that increasing numbers of shops see opportunities in larger molds.

One moldmaker that’s been ahead of the pack in this respect is MSI Mold Builders, which has always considered large-part machining capability to be a competitive advantage. Recently, the company doubled-down on this core capacity by adding 47,000 square feet of manufacturing space to house a massive moving-column, five-axis OMV Formula HMC from Parpas America with about 20 feet of longitudinal travel and 12 feet of vertical travel. Read this article to learn more.

For more about Extreme Wire EDM, check out this article, which details how expertise in drilling start holes makes the downstream wire-cutting process both faster and more precise.

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