By: Randy Kerkstra 20. February 2015

The Designer’s Edge: Flash Free Molding: It’s about Cavity Surface Area

Slide lock angle with wear plate.

Today I’d like to discuss areas of a tool that can contribute to flash with deflection perpendicular to the machine’s clamp force. First, the most important thing to understand is the amount of plastic pressure the tool and components will experience. This tends to be underestimated as we assume steel is stronger than plastic.  In terms of its physical properties it is, however, that is not always the case when pressure is part of the equation.  

Laminated inserts, inserts with plenty of cavity surface area, cavity surface area on slides and mold blocks are options to consider when designing for tool deflection in the perpendicular direction.  (Hydraulic cylinders are another factor we’ll cover in a future blog because it involves more than deflection.)  It comes down to the cavity surface area with inserts and laminated inserts. The more cavity surface area, the more you need to focus on that area.

I had a tool with laminated inserts to form rib details that would actually deflect the side of the mold 0.030. This particular tool had a support plate, so we added large dowel pins to the cavity and support plates to reduce defection.

With split inserts and flash, I’ve seen toolmakers try to tighten the by beating them in and out. Every plastic has a flash point that will allow an insert to fit without beating it. So evaluate the tool for possible deflection.

You must focus on cavity surface area with slides and lock angles too. Especially if the lock angle and mold base are adequate to prevent deflection. Inserted lock angles are more vulnerable to deflection. However, I have seen lock angles in the solid that looked very robust, but were not able to prevent deflection, which resulted in flash on the part.

In another example, a thick plate was added to the side of a large tool with many bolts because it was deflecting 0.012 and causing flash on the part.

Consider this: if a slide was spotted true net, the lock angle timed perfectly and the tool was robust enough to prevent deflection, zero pre-load would be needed. So, if you have a slide that needs excessive pre-load, you are fighting deflection and will be at risk for wear due to mechanical friction on the lock from heavy pre-load.

Inserted slide lock.

By: Christina M. Fuges 19. February 2015

Centers of Excellence for Moldmaking

As seen in our February article on using supplier collaboration to improve profitability, this same blow moldmaker knows the value of strategic partnerships. Creative Blow Mold Tooling of Lee’s Summit and Big 3 Precision located in Centralia, Illnois recently teamed up to create Centers of Excellence (CoE) for the design and manufacture of injection blow, injection stretch blow (IBM/ISBM) and extrusion blow molds (EBM). These CoE are built upon Creative's 30 years of experience in EBM tooling and Big 3's focus on the IBM/ISBM market.

The goal of the partnership and the CoE is to help existing customers with speed to market through increased product development and support. Big 3 and Creative also intend to use the CoE concept to help balance engineering and manufacturing capacity, increase efficiencies, and further reduce lead times for customers. The partnership will allow customers to source tooling on complementary platforms through a known and trusted business partner.

As a primary supplier, each company will be able to tap into the CoE for engineering and manufacturing leadership, project management, and technical support. The primary supplier will be responsible for program management and manufacturing. The newly formed alliance will be a partnership of the companies’ technical capabilities and expertise.


By: Matthew Danford 18. February 2015

The Advantages of 3+2 Machining (Includes Video)

This five-axis Hermle C40U is among the equipment Eifel employs for 3+2 machining. 

Last month's profile article covered Eifel Mold & Engineering, where every decision is driven by its potential impact on three interrelated factors that the shop deems critical to competitiveness: people, technology and process.

However, the profile article’s 30,000-foot view of the operation isn’t only coverage we have to offer on this shop. For one, I visited Eifel as part of an annual American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) event designed to enabled mold manufacturers to learn from one another. However, Eifel sounded quite familiar to me even before I’d visited. Once I had a chance to get back to the office look into it, I found out why.

Prior to coming on board at MoldMaking Technology just in time to contribute to our January, 2014 issue, I worked for our sister publication, Modern Machine Shop. Eifel has appeared in those pages a number of times. Perhaps the most accessible example is this video from 2010, in which company president Rick Hecker and others discuss the advantages of 3+2 machining.

If you want to go even deeper (or if you prefer to read rather than watch), that’s not all Modern has to offer on this shop. The five-axis machining centers that facilitate 3+2 are one of the most important aspects of the “technology” side of the shop’s aforementioned, three-part business philosophy. The reason they’re so important relates to the “process” side of things; specifically, they facilitate zero-stock machining, which helps the shop eliminate downstream operations. Zero-stock machining is the subject of this 2012 article, which covers Eifel along with another moldmaker, Redoe Mold.

Finally, if you’re a regular reader of MoldMaking Technology, there may be more to come about this shop, which, as you’ve gathered from the above, has plenty of stories to tell and lessons to teach. My discussions there revealed plenty of other potential topics beyond five-axis machining. Stay tuned. 

By: Christina M. Fuges 17. February 2015

Listen and Learn (and Ask Questions, Too!)

Last year, MMT launched a free, quarterly webinar series on global market opportunities for U.S. moldmakers, presented by the Society of the Plastics Industry and sponsored by DME Co., that stirred up some good Q&A. (Visit to view this series.) We’ve since decided to take this model and bring it to you annually on topics that impact your businesses, by aligning with experts in those fields to produce the content. The 2015 series begins next month and will share proven methods for filling the skills gap. 

March 10, Recruiting and Reshoring to Fill the Skills Gap, Harry Moser, Reshoring Initiative. This webinar will provide evidence that manufacturing is returning to the U.S. and that the skilled manufacturing “professions” are a better choice for most of our youth and for our society. It will also present tools for making the required changes in perception within communities.  

June 2, Industry-Driven Approach to Manufacturing Education to Fill the Skills Gap, Ryan Hundt, Michigan Economic Development Corp., and Tom Ruczynski, Proper Group for the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT²). The Michigan Advanced Technician Training program (MAT²) combines theory, practice and work to train. This allows companies to “grow their own employees” and directly develop competency-based education. It also offers an economical training option. 

August 25, Getting Real about Manufacturing Education to Fill the Skills Gap, Craig Ceigleski, Cardinal Manufacturing, and Jacob Hostettler, Northwoods Manufacturing. This webinar will review how to develop a program that functions as a student-run manufacturing business in which the students manage customers, make products, meet deadlines, face challenges and make money in the process. 
November 17, Working Inside and Outside Your Shop to Fill the Skills Gap, Ray Coombs, Westminster Tool.  Learn how this moldmaker collaborated with local manufacturers and academia to offset the cost of developing and training employees on general manufacturing practices, as well as soft skills. 

Go to to register for free today. To get the most out of these webinars, consider tuning in with a group, take and share notes, and, most importantly, ask questions! 

By: Matthew Danford 16. February 2015

A Big Year for Robotics

Graphic Tool is a mold manufacturer that automates more than just electrode production. Here, a robot feeds steel to a five-axis machining center. Automation was a big part of the shop’s journey from “mold maker to mold manufacturer,” which we covered last year

Fewer and fewer companies are behind the curve in terms of automation, at least according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) trade group. The organization recently reported that robotics orders and shipments both set new records in 2014. Read the full report.

Although the report isn’t broken down by industry, it shouldn’t have to be to convince mold manufacturers to take a hard look at automation, whether that means robotics, pallet changers or any other technology that frees employees from tedious, repetitive and time-consuming tasks. The writing has been on the wall for some time, and the benefits have been documented repeatedly in this very publication (here’s a recent example). Most of the shops I’ve visited during my time here have implemented form of automation, most commonly in electrode production. Those that haven’t usually tell me they’d like to, or even that plans are already in the works. 

Have you made any recent strides in automation? If so, I’m always on the lookout for a great lead. Send me an email.    

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