Cutting-Edge Mold Technologies Boost Customers’ Results

Originally titled 'A Conversation with...Crest Mold Technology Inc.'

This moldmaker strives to offer customers value-added mold technologies and help add to their bottom line.

Why does the company have a focus on conformal cooling? How are your customers adapting to the idea and the benefits of it?

William Cipkar Jr., Crest Mold Technology Inc. Technical Sales: Conformal cooling is something of a specialty, and we are giving significant attention to it as a value-added service for our customers, because we know it will help them reduce cycle times and improve part quality. It’s something that a lot of people talk about but many don’t implement. There is a lot of interest, but still a lot of hesitation. We are trying to get them to understand that it’s not about added tooling cost, it’s about increasing profits, reducing scrap and giving them more control over their entire process. It is more work on our end, but in the long run, it helps solidify our value as a supplier to our customer base. A recent example of how we are promoting the benefits of using conformal cooling involves a customer who needed a high-volume mold. The customer was going to buy a new, 1,800-ton injection molding machine to run the mold full time. If the volumes took off, it would need to order a second mold and purchase another 1,800-ton press. We told the customer that we can build molds that run twice as fast as normal tools by using conformal cooling, so it would only have to buy one mold and one press. That mold might cost 40-50 percent more, but the overall savings would be significant. Conformal cooling is not about throwing as much cold water through the mold as possible. It is about controlling the mold surface so that there is a uniform distribution of heat and a uniform ability to pull heat away so that the part does not warp. When a part cools unevenly, it starts twisting and warping. When it is possible to control that molding surface, it is possible to control the process and tune the part to where it needs to be.

When it is possible to control that molding surface, it is possible to control the process and tune the part to where it needs to be.

How else does Crest Mold create advantages for its customers?

Cipkar: When it comes to creating advantages for our customers, we invest time and resources into new technologies like conformal cooling and hot/cold injection molding. These technologies are all for the betterment of the customer. Admittedly, these technologies don’t make the tooling any easier or faster to build. In truth, they are more complex and take more time to manufacture. The customer sees the benefits from its improved cycle times or from the ability to eliminate a paint process, which sometimes carries very significant percentages in relation to the cost of the part. We do this to be an asset to our customers and to make our tooling a more effective capital investment. Sometimes people don’t look at tooling as an investment, but when they sign up for a program to deliver hundreds of thousands of parts over the next four or five years, they are relying on the tooling to make that happen. We are putting that money to work for the customer.

For example, with hot/cold paint elimination, there are sometimes big portions of the part cost that get invested in paint lines and the waste that the paint lines create. When we use a hot/cold process, we create an environment in the tool that enables the butadiene to rise to the surface and provide that high-gloss finish. (Currently, the best resins to use for this purpose are ABS resins, but there are Nylon resins in development as well.) Another great example is biodegradable materials, and I am referring to true bio materials, not those that are cut with resins. Hot/cold molding helps this process because bio resins do not have the same flow properties as petroleum resins, so having a hot tool enables the resin to flow more easily. In normal molding conditions without hot tools, it can be impossible to even fill a part. When hot plastic is shot into a mold that is as much as 100–200°F cooler than the plastic, the plastic cools immediately. As the plastic is pushed through the mold, it freezes and breaks. Forcing the plastic through like that inherently stresses the resin. By injecting the plastic into a tool that is effectively the same temperature of the hot plastic, the plastic can flow more easily, which reduces tonnage and in turn reduces wear on the press and on the mold itself. The result is a better molded part, because the resin is not as stressed from freezing while filling the part. Using a hot tool also reduces warpage, which creates more dimensionally stable parts. 

Additionally, Crest’s involvement with the National Research Council and the Canada Makes Consortium keeps us updated on additive manufacturing and machine tool advancements, and it acquaints us with early users who are attempting to overcome the associated obstacles. We remain committed to offering our customers the best technologies available with the objective of providing the most suitable solution for each individual application.

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