Carving a Niche with Multi-Material Sampling

In-house commissioning of multi-shot plastic injection molds is expected to pay dividends for this moldmaker—and, perhaps more importantly, for its customers.
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Providing a service that’s hard to find anywhere else is a surefire way to both keep existing customers and attract new ones. Although Prospect Mold and Die Co. isn’t the only supplier of multi-shot plastic injection molds, company president Brandon Wenzlik says the ability to sample these tools in-house will help double-down on this core competency by extending the shop’s services all the way through final commissioning. 

Wenzlik, CEO Bruce Wright and CFO Thomas Orr agree that, in the long run, this capability will be worth far more than their recent $2.5 million investment in an injection molding press and a 24,000-square-foot facility addition to house it. The nearly 70-year-old business in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio has been providing multi-colored lens tools to the automotive industry for more than two decades, but finding a relatively close molding partner with the capability to run these tools has proven difficult, Wenzlik says. Previously, the only option was to test tools at customers’ facilities, a task that could require multiple trips if a mold required additional tuning. Beyond that, scheduling tool trials could be difficult because of capacity constraints at customers’ presses, particularly given the recent rebound in the automotive industry.  

Eliminating these delays and back-and-forth shipments during the trial phase will alleviate plenty of headaches for Prospect Mold, Wenzlik says. However, he emphasizes that the real advantage of in-house sampling and commissioning lie in the direct benefits it provides to customers. For one, this capability speeds deliveries and facilitates faster reactions to any issues. Additionally, customers no longer have to concern themselves with scheduling precious time on their multi-shot presses for trial runs. Rather, they can rest assured that molds are commissioned and ready for production by the time they arrive. And when capacity becomes critical, Prospect Mold can help ease the burden by taking on lower-volume production runs. Wenzlik adds that these services could potentially tip the balance in Prospect Mold’s favor when courting potential new customers. 

All that said, just any injection molding press wouldn’t do. Ensuring that trials mimic actual production as closely as possible required a machine with a similar configuration to those used most often by the company’s customers. To that end, Prospect opted for an Engel duo 1650 combi machine with a two-station, continuous rotating platen and four barrels with shot capacities ranging from 33 to 110 ounces. Other features include three core pulls on the rotary side and three on the fixed side, 72-zone mold-heating control, and 12 pneumatic or hydraulic valve-gate controls. Notably, fitting the machine with an Engel Viper linear robot provides the capability to commission customers’ end-of-arm tooling along with molds. 

Of course, making the most of this equipment also requires the right set of skills. Given that running multi-shot tools in-house is uncharted territory for Prospect Mold, the company hired three new employees dedicated solely to its new molding technologies division. “The new division has really diversified our portfolio, and it could possibly open doors to new business,” Wenzlik concludes.