Remaining in the Moldmaking Game

The Portuguese moldmaking industy has had its ups and downs over the past four decades, but remains in the game. Today it is on the list of advanced European economies and has continued to improve its capabilites and stay current with technology. I caught up with Moldetipo Group's business development manager for an update on the current state of moldmaking in Portugal.

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The Portuguese moldmaking industy has had its ups and downs over the past four decades, but remains in the game. Back when we started MMT, Portugal was quite a competitor for the U.S. mold manufacturer. Today, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is on the list of advanced European economies and has continued to improve its capabilites and stay current with technology. Earlier this year, I introduced you to a Portuguese-based mold builder, Moldetipo Group, that partnered with South Carolina-based JMMS to manage automotive industry projects and use is water injection technology. I caught up with Moldetipo Group Business Development Manager, Filipe Loureiro for an update on the current state of moldmaking in Portugal.

When asked to describe Portugal, Loureiro begins by saying, "Cristiano Ronaldo. Sunny beaches. Fabulous food and wine." But then continues, "Thankfully, there’s more to Portugal than that. The molding indusry is a powerful example." 

Two clusters in Marinha Grande and Oliveira de Azeméis house 700 companies employing 9,000 people exporting close to 90 percent of its production. Portuguese moldmakers have established a quality reputation and presence in more than 80 countries, reaching more than three quarters of a billion euros in sales by 2015.

Loureiro explains, "The industry took off in the seventies when glass was replaced with plastic due to the fast-growing automotive needs. Since then, the Portuguese industry has been on the frontline, heavily investing in R&D. For example, back in the eighties, Portugal was the first European supplier to install CAD/CAM technology. Looking ahead, investments are being made in production planning, quality control and professional training."

He says the United States and Canada are no longer the sole markets for the Portuguese molding industry. "Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, etc.), Mexico and South America as well as Asia are betting on the expertise of the Portuguese companies. Communication is a key factor and a foreign client can expect to develop its projects in his mother-tongue, as speaking French, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese or German is not a problem."

Moldetipo is one example of the quality moldmakers in Portugal. The company was founded in 1996 by CEO  Rui Silva, and today employs 60 people in its Marinha Grande plant, located north of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon. In 2015, Moldetipo was recognized for a water injection mold used to build a BMW clutch pedal by being named "best moldmaker" in Germany. Loureiro says that Moldetipo Group is one of only two European companies developing water injection technology as an alternative for specific injection needs. "As a global company, we have Portuguese technicians in China, our own facilities in Mexico (100 percent) and India (joint-venture) as well as partnerships in Germany and USA."

 

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