By: Christina M. Fuges 17. October 2014

3-in-1: Print, Mill and Mold

It is an interesting machining development in the midst of all the technological innovations that we've seen during the past year, especially when it comes to additive manufacturing. That is why I thought I'd share it with you.

This 3-in-1 machine is called the TRiBOT. According to Luminar Products, a small manufacturing company located outside of Boise, Idaho, it is a retrofitted bench top manual milling machine designed to take advantage of its initial industrial strength and add practical automated functions for specific manufacturing applications.

Inventors say this machine fills the void that currently exists between light-duty 3D printers and heavier duty machining and injection molding equipment. This desktop machine will allow small manufacturers to grow their businesses by taking ideas from prototype to production without investing in three different machines at more than three times the cost.

Check out their story here.


By: Christina M. Fuges 16. October 2014

Building an Integrated Manufacturing Center to Help Fill the Skills Gap

I've known Bob Novak of Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) for a few years now, and have come to understand his mission and fully embrace his passion for the industry and the students he teaches. We've covered him and his program in MMT, and he's spoken a couple times at our amerimold expo on the industry's workforce challenges and how he and WCTC have faced them head on.

That is why I wanted to fill you in on WCTC's latest project. WCTC is working to create a new Integrated Manufacturing Center (IMC) to raise WCTC manufacturing programs to a new level and to provide innovative solutions to the skills gap crisis.

The center will be connected to the Industrial Building and will be home to several programs within the School of Applied Technologies. It will serve as the hub of manufacturing on campus, facilitating integrated learning for multiple disciplines and promote a spirit of collaboration among programs.

According to WCTC, the proposed 24,000-square-foot IMC will include:
  • Automation Systems Technology laboratory (2)
  • Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering laboratory
  • Industrial Maintenance Technician laboratory
  • Electronics laboratory (2)
  • Electronics fabrication laboratory
  • Engineering lecture hall
  • AST classroom
  • Engineering classrooms (2)
  • IMC technology lab
  • Conference rooms (2)
You can learn more about the project here.  To make a donation in support of the IMC, visit

By: Matthew Danford 15. October 2014

Gathering Highlights Automotive Vendor Tooling Concerns


If you’re a supplier of automotive vendor tooling, consider booking a trip to the Detroit area right now before prices get any higher. If you’re already located there, consider clearing your schedule for the afternoon of October 30th. Chances are you won’t regret it.

On that date, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) and Harbour Results Inc. (HRI) will conduct a group discussion about critical concerns for the automotive vendor tooling industry. Scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel, the discussion will be driven in large part by the findings of the 2013 Automotive Vendor Tooling Study, conducted jointly by the two organizations, as well as the work of the OESA Tooling Forum, a group of independent vendor tool suppliers that gather regularly to discuss common problems and share best practices. Specific topics include the projected tooling capacity gap, the cause and effect of OEM launch delays, and the skilled worker shortage. Click here for registration and other information.

I can confidently say this event will be worth your while because of my familiarity with both organizations. I’ve seen Laurie Harbour, president of HRI, speak a number of times, and the response has always been extremely positive. In my view, that’s a credit to not only her no-nonsense attitude, but also the information she has to offer. Of late, most of that information involves how North American manufacturers can step up to address the nearly $6 billion tooling capacity shortage identified in the 2013 Automotive Vendor Tooling study. Harbour covered that capacity gap extensively in an article she wrote for MoldMaking Technology last December.

A month later, in the January issue, I dove into the workings of the OESA Tooling Forum, without which that study never would have happened in the first place. As I’ve written before, I think peer groups like this can go a long way toward ensuring a competitive North American manufacturing industry in decades to come. Read that article to learn more about the forum’s goals, structure and advantages for member shops.

By: Christina M. Fuges 14. October 2014

Go West

On November 11th the Annual Mike Koebel Western Moldmakers Trade Fair will celebrate its 24th year with the introduction of a conference element to its traditional trade fair. The program includes presentations on conformal cooling from Linear Mold, technology investment and implementation from Paragon D&D, and toolroom setup from ToolingDocs.

This event takes place at the Sheraton Fair Hotel and Conference Center in Pomona, California from 1pm to 8pm. It attracts attendees from the moldmaking and molding communities throughout the Western Region. Be sure to register today!




By: Matthew Danford 13. October 2014

A New Take on a Production Machine (Includes Video)

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The machining of this intake socket isn’t a moldmaking application, but it does showcase the table’s range of motion, the “turtling” spindle and other notable features of Grob’s G Series machines.


Machine tool builder Grob Systems began earnest efforts to expand its horizons last year, and the company says its efforts are now bearing fruit.

Based in Germany with U.S. headquarters in Bluffton, Ohio, Grob has long been known for the sort of high-production machining systems commonly seen at major automotive OEMs. Yet, the experiences of customers like Sable Engineering, detailed in this September-issue case study, demonstrate that machines built with high-production applications in mind can be a good fit for high-mix, low-volume operations, including mold shops.

Granted, you wouldn’t see the machine Sable uses, a G350, on the production line of a manufacturer like Ford or General Motors. Nonetheless, the company’s standalone, G Series universal machines are built on the same, modular platform as its production models. Differences, such as making the work area more accessible to better accommodate frequent changeovers, tend to be geared toward user-friendliness and ergonomics.

With the technology at the ready, the company moved in earnest last year to get the word out to new market segments.  For one, you might have already visited the company at any of a number of trade shows and open house exhibitions, which it attends far more frequently than the past. The company has also conducted numerous demonstrations at its own facility, and constructed a new technical center that provides a dedicated venue for such events. It has also significantly expanded its distribution network for the universal machines, with new agents appointed in Michigan, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Visit the company’s website for more information on its technology and activities. Meanwhile, check out the video above to see the machine in action, and read this case study to learn about how Sable Engineering uses the machine in the field.

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