A Challenging but Worthwhile Endeavor

This mold manufacturer recently made its first foray into in-house mold sampling. So far, the results have made the shop’s significant investment more than worth it.

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So far, mold sampling capability has exceeded expectations at Diamond Tool & Engineering.

Our March-issue profile article covered how automation, cross training and a drive to keep fixed costs low has contributed to recent growth at Diamond Tool & Engineering. Yet, the article only briefly touches on one of the most significant recent developments at this rural Minnesota mold manufacturer: the addition of the shop’s first injection press, a Toshiba EC140SX. Purchased less than a year ago to sample tools for customers (Diamond has no plans to get into the molding business), the new machine has already proven its worth.

At first, however, the shop’s leadership was slightly apprehensive about such a large investment, even though “running the numbers” beforehand convinced them it was the right move, says Kent Smith, company president. “After all the planning and commitment to move forward, would we see the results we were looking for?” he recalls wondering. “Would the investment pay off?”

Such questions are understandable. After all, running a mold is a lot different than making one. For that reason, Diamond Tool decided to seek outside expertise—something that can be hard to find these days. “Luckily, we were able to hire a very good, local process engineer and avoid that hurdle,” says Bryan Amiot, project manager. “I think it would have been difficult to learn to run the machine and do the processing, not to mention the time that would be needed for this."   

Still, adding this new capability wasn’t exactly easy. Amiot says choosing the right machine was among the shop’s greatest challenges. Determining which size machine could sample the widest variety of molds required a great deal of research, as did determining which auxiliary equipment and accessories would be required to get started. Integrating the machine and auxiliary equipment was also challenging because, as detailed in the aforementioned profile article, floorspace is at a premium at Diamond Tool. Meanwhile, the shop has lost any breathing room it might have had after shipping a mold for outside sampling. Now, it has to be prepared to work on it again immediately in the (rare) instances when that's required.

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The mold shop must now be prepared to act immediately in the event that a tool needs work after sampling.

Of course, that also means Diamond Tool can react far more quickly to any problems that do arise. That—and sampling capability in general—means happier customers. In fact, feedback from customers indicates they’re even happier about the new capability than the shop had initially anticipated. For Smith, Amiot and crew, that makes their significant investment more than worth it. “I am a little surprised about how much positive feedback we have been receiving from our customers,” Amiot says. “I was expecting some benefit, but this has exceeded my expectations.”

“We have actually sampled about 95 percent of all the molds built by Diamond tool in our own facility. We were hoping for about 80 percent,” Smith adds. “Our goal here at Diamond Tool and Engineering is our molds met customer expectations 100% of the time the first time in their molding machine. We are tracking this number at this time at 97%.” 

For more information on what makes Diamond Tool & Engineering tick, read our March-issue profile article. 

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