Case Study: Hot Runners
New Hot Runner System Solves Side-Gating Issues
Tech Mold Inc. (Tempe, AZ)—a manufacturer of high-volume, high-cavitation injection molds for the packaging (caps and closures), medical disposable and consumer products markets—also assists global hot runner suppliers in developing advanced technology. This collaboration is mutually beneficial—not only is Tech Mold on the cutting edge of new technologies, the company can pass on this knowledge and experience to better serve its customers.
In the past year, Tech Mold has been called upon by the best-known mold component manufacturers to help with the design, development and testing of various systems such as hot runner systems, collapsible core products, and other cutting-edge mold technology. The company recently worked with Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. (Bolton, ON) in the development, testing and validation of Husky’s Ultra SideGate—one of the company’s latest innovations in hot runner systems. This system allows molders the opportunity to horizontally direct gate parts that cannot be effectively gated with a regular nozzle.
“Tech Mold is often asked to work with these leading companies on their new product development and testing because we have a lot of experience in developing many of our own mold technologies for our customers when we can’t find the exact solution in the market,” says Karl Szanto, Vice President of Operations for Tech Mold. “The 40-plus years of mold manufacturing experience, in addition to the more than 100 years of expertise represented by Tech Mold’s engineering team, has resulted in our ability to be innovative and creative when it comes to solving the most challenging manufacturing issues our customers encounter.”
Mold technology is evolving to benefit processors in many ways including greater efficiencies, higher productivity, better quality, reduced/optimized cycle times, and reduction of secondary operations away from the press. “Improvements come through better mold design, which can include the type of mold, configuration of the cores/cavities, and enable cutting-edge processes such as in-mold labeling, two-shot/two material, and rotating cube molds,” Szanto explains.
As a long-time customer of Husky, Tech Mold and Husky have built a long-term, solid relationship based on mutual trust and confidence in the knowledge and capability of each partner. “This relationship holds true with all of our customers, partners and suppliers,” Szanto says. “That facilitates the collaborative efforts we have with our supplier partners.”
Husky worked with Tech Mold to develop their Ultra SideGate technology because of Tech Mold’s expertise in building multi-cavity, high production molds for the medical industry, and because they needed a North American supplier. “We were certainly aware of Tech Mold’s experience in working on projects that required side gated hot runner systems,” explains Martin Baumann, Husky’s Business Manager—Hot Runners.
The mold was built for two generic, non-product specific parts designed to run with the new Ultra SideGate system. Both parts incorporated conditions that can be encountered in everyday manufacturing conditions, with the objective being to test the newly design system to expected processing limits. Initial testing at Tech Mold’s sampling facility Tech Mold East (TME) was to evaluate critical features such as balance of fill, process ability and the ease of in-mold serviceability, Szanto says. After successful ‘testing’ of the ‘beta’ system at TME, the mold was sent to Husky headquarters for additional testing of the new system with a wide variety of molding materials. During that phase of testing, the mold components were modified to successfully test the new system in a thin-wall application.
During the development process Husky’s engineering team received input from Tech Mold regarding the challenges mold manufacturers often encounter with side-gating systems, and developed an optimum system. “We took the various concepts developed in our research and development efforts, as well as the input from Tech Mold and together we worked on creating a better product for our market—the moldmakers and the medical industry,” Baumann notes.
Szanto believes the project was successful from the outset because everyone involved shared open communications, which he says is the foundation of solid partnerships—and successful projects.
Baumann adds, “Together we were able to confirm these ideas about the Ultra SideGate hot runner system and how it should function, and prove that it is an optimal solution to horizontally gating parts that cannot be effectively gated with a regular nozzle .They helped us take this unique approach and turn it into a product that fits the needs of both mold builders and molders alike.”
Mutually Beneficial Collaboration
Collaborative efforts such as this benefit both companies. With early involvement in the developing of this system, Tech Mold was better able to determine critical features that had to be included in the mold design such as component manufacturability, ease of maintenance and the ability to service the system or components in the press.
This type of alliance also means that Husky’s customers develop greater confidence in its products. “If a mold builder isn’t confident in your product, it can present a significant challenge in getting them to adopt new solutions,” notes Husky’s Baumann. “Tech Mold was able to confirm that Ultra SideGate presented significant advantages over existing technologies and that will make a big difference in terms of market acceptance of this new product.”
“Early involvement in a project like this allows us to understand the entire thought process used to design the system,” Szanto adds. “We then have the ability to evaluate how and why decisions were made and determine which features are truly critical to developing a mold that will perform well. Like Husky, Tech Mold is sensitive to the customers’ need for performance and reliability.”
Szanto believes Tech Mold’s ability to take on projects like this increases its customers’ confidence in the company’s ability to be innovative and take full advantage of the latest mold technology. “Our customers depend on Tech Mold to keep them on the leading edge of any and all mold technology available,” he comments. “The Husky SideGate solution provides our customers a new option to old problems related to gating issues such as system accessibility and ease of service. Our design also includes the newest mold components developed by our suppliers, those new products we develop in collaboration with those suppliers, and the innovative solutions and customer-specific products that Tech Mold develops on its own.”
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