Throwback Thursday: Working on My Business

By: Christina M. Fuges 25. August 2016



Being an IMTS year, it is to be expected that most of us are focused on technology. I'm here to tell you that to get the most out of the products and equipment you invest in, you must also focus on the "business" of moldmaking. This reminds me of an article series we did in the late 1990s, called Working on My Business.

Many of us work in our businesses, but do we work on our businesses? There is quite a distinction between the two. The articles in this series beg mold builders to start asking themselves some basic questions to assess where they are today and where they are headed in the future.  

  1. How much time did you spend today thinking about and planning for the future?
  2. What have you done today that will create a better tomorrow?
  3. What five core competencies that your people now possess can be leveraged in the market to catapult your sales growth?
  4. What one or two core competencies that your people do not now possess, but if they did, could change the value equation in the market and give your company a quantum leap in competitive advantage?
  5. What is the number one bottleneck in your system of processes that is holding back your growth in sales, profit or both? What are you doing to resolve the bottleneck?
  6. If you had to itemize price everything (Yes, everything!) that your employees and you do each day on an invoice that you submit to your customers for payment, how many of these items would your customer recognize as value-added and be willing to pay for?
  7. If you were your biggest competitor and you know what you now know about your company, how would you put your company out of business?
  8. How do you recognize an opportunity for growth? What are the parameters? Where do you find these opportunities?
  9. Has the company's annual revenue dollars per employee and annual profit dollars per employee increased, held fairly constant or decreased during the past five years? What is the trend and what specifically are the top two reasons why this trend is occurring?
  10. How do your company's performance figures (as defined in number nine above) measure up against those same figures of your competitor?
  11. Why is there a difference (regardless of the direction and trend)? What are you doing to change them now?
  12. When was the last time you saw a co-worker do something really great? What did you do?
  13. If you were a mouse in a corner in your customer's conference room, what would you like to hear them say about your company as a supplier? What are you doing to ensure that they are saying those words?
  14. How many new customers did you acquire last year?
  15. What would happen to your business if your two largest customers were to be acquired by another company outside of your sphere of influence?

From here, the journey begins. But this series doesn't stop there. Maybe it's time to take a second look at this series and see where your company is and where it is headed in the years to come.




Benefits and Obstacles to Metal 3D Printing

By: Christina M. Fuges 24. August 2016


With the continuing growth, expansion of real-world applications and increasing interest in 3D printing from moldmakers across the country, it is no wonder that my parent company, Gardner Business Media, launched an Additive Manufacturing supplement a few years ago. Today, that supplement has grown into a digital-first magazine and conference. In addition to MoldMaking Technology, I also contribute to this publication. And so, I believe it is important to let you know of this year's Additive Manufacturing Conference (AMC) 2016, presented by Additive Manufacturing MagazineThe AMC is taking place during IMTS on September 13-14th, and its agenda includes presenters from Autodesk, DMG MORI, Optomec, EOS, Caterpillar and Karma Machining and Manufacturing.

The two-day event will offer attendees unique ways to connect with leading suppliers, end-users and researchers of industrial applications of additive manufacturing technologies. It includes 20 technical sessions examining design, material, machinery and applications technology used in metal additive manufacturing.  Registration to the AMC also includes access to the more than 2,000 exhibiting companies at the IMTS. For a look at the additive technologies being showcased at IMTS, click here.  

Specific AM Conference topics include lightweighting, robotic additive manufacturing, combining additive and traditional manufacturing, software, automation and much more.

The AMC is dedicated to exploring the ways that additive technologies can be implemented in an industrial setting, offering technical insights on additive manufacturing technologies past and present, as well as the future impact and potential applications of emerging technologies.  In addition to the technical sessions, attendees will have access to the more than 20 sponsors who will be showcased in the exhibit/networking room where continued conversations can be conducted in a more relaxed setting.

 Registration and full event details are available at


Additive Manufacturing Digital Edition Now Online in Time for IMTS

By: Christina M. Fuges 19. August 2016

With this issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine, I spoke with Baker Aerospace Tooling & Machining to learn how they are pushing AM development and educating customers at a new collaboration center for emerging injection mold technologies. The issue also visits with an Ontario manufacturer that sees hybrid manufacturing as a means for survival; reviews some experiments whose results support the viability of AM for ongoing production; previews some of the AM technologies to be exhibited at the International Manufacturing Technology Show; and, presents this year’s IAMA award winner for a technology that monitors thermal radiation to map the internal consistency of a metal part as it is being made. Click here for more.

SLIDESHOW: Technology Showcase: Machining

By: Christina M. Fuges 16. August 2016

                                                Handtmann will showcase the PBZ HD 600 profile machining center, specially equipped for high-performance machining of aluminum profiles ranging to 6,000 mm in length. " />                         Belmont’s MX-220 Drop Tank, part of the company’s Maxicut ZNC series of sinker EDMs, features a compact footprint of 56" × 104" and a paint-to-paint design that enables multiple machine setup." />                         C.R. Onsrud’s X-Series is a five-axis CNC machining platform designed specifically for extrusions." />                         Methods Machine Tools, the FANUC RoboCut α-CiB series of wire EDMs are designed for high precision, fast rapid traverse rates and expedited setups." />                         Absolute Machine Tools presents Tongtai’s iVU-5, a VMC that offers conventional machining operations as well as rotary, ultrasonic-assisted machining of advanced materials." />                         TCI Precision Metals’ dovetail machine-ready blanks are designed for use with four- or five-axis CNC machining centers fitted with dovetail workholding fixtures." />                         Yamazen’s booth, Brother International will present the Speedio machining center product line, including the Flex-S robotic cell by Nachi, made for Speedio models s300, s500 and s700." />                         Absolute Machine Tools, was developed to improve cycle times and turning processes for the automotive industry and is suitable for precision turning, high-production volume, automatic production and insertion into mass-production lines." />

According to our latest Gardner Business Index on moldmaking, companies are continuing to expand, employment increased, the trend in expectations has been up since January, and future capital spending plans were above average. And, with moldmakers continuing to up their game by investing in the latest machining technology, there is no better place than IMTS to investigate new product and equipment options.

Next month there will be more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing their technology wares—everything from CAD/CAM and 3D printing technology to machining and cutting tools to automation and inspection /measurement equipment. IMTS is taking place September 12-17, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, and based on the current rate of exhibition contracts, the show is anticipating more than 100,000 visitors from 112 countries, and organizers are planning accordingly. This slideshow is just continuing our sampling of what will be on the show floor next month.



Throwback Thursday: Finding, Training & Retaining Employees

By: Christina M. Fuges 11. August 2016

With the ongoing skilled workforce dilemna, I thought it was appropriate to use today's post to point you back to a series we did a few years ago that provided tips for finding, training and retaining a solid workforce. In this series of articles, Ryan Pohl, a journeyman CNC machinist who also holds a master's degree in industrial training and development, and who has been a teacher in the public high school and community college systems, as well as a corporate trainer and consultant, offers insight into numerous learning and teaching approaches for Structured TrainingDetailed Training Plans, Apprenticeship TrainingRTI and On-the-Floor LearningRelated Technical Instruction OptionsRelated Technical Instruction JustificationMore Related Technical Instruction JustificationThe Role of an Educational PhilosophyBenefits of a Learner-Centered Educational PhilosophyThe Value of a Training Needs Analysis, Evaluating Training Resources and Identifying and Examining Training Constraints. Take this opportunity to read up and then commit to putting into action some of the plans outlined.




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