Learning Outside the Shop

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What better way to learn outside the shop than to attend some trade shows. I asked some readers to name a few things they learned after going to some industry events this past year and here is what they said are the issues of the day in moldmaking:

  • Software automation and machine automation and robot cells
  • Medical market potential will continue to grow (See page 42 for the first installment of our End Market Report series.)
  • Better product and quality from the Far East
  • A focus on reducing employee turnover, training costs and time as we reduce workforces and increase levels of automation
  • Service will be key; it does not matter how the economy or industry changes
  • An increase in mergers and takeovers
  • Differentiation (specialization) in toolmaking
  • Five axis machining
  • Lean manufacturing plays an important role moldmaking
  • Finding talent
  • Focus on thermal management techniques and technologies for heating and cooling the mold

Speaking of trade shows, I went to EuroMold—the international world fair for moldmaking, tooling, design and application development—last month and returned with some thoughts of my own … as well as a huge bag of information, a head full of ideas and a serious mission to get back up to speed in the office and roll out our first issue of the New Year while gearing up for our own trade event in April.

EuroMold had plenty to offer in the international world of mold manufacture—mold building services, and software, machine tool, cutting tool and mold material suppliers—but it also had some special highlights including hot runners, inspection/measurement, and rapid prototyping/tooling/manufacturing.

Its heavy focus on additive fabrication technologies and strategies was from both the conference and exhibit end and taught me that this is something which mold shops should keep an eye on in terms of how it will affect the industry and the way they do business in the future. Check out page 56 of this issue for Terry Wohlers’ worldwide review and analysis of additive fabrication, and look for related conference sessions at MoldMaking Expo 2007 in the registration brochure insert included with this issue.

Inspection and measurement technologies were another highlight of EuroMold, and while over there I was able to see GOM International AG, who offers the ATOS III white light scanning system that happens to be a focal point of the success of this year’s Leadtime Leader Award Winner: Large Shop. The system has been used with great success for reverse engineering, and mold inspections and validations. You can see the full feature on this year’s winner and its use of this technology on page 19.

This issue marks the fifth annual Leadtime Leader Awards, and the winners are:

  • Large Shop Winner: Chicago Mold Engineering
  • Large Shop Honorable Mention: Synergetic M2M
  • Small Shop Winner: Tech Tool & Mold
  • Small Shop Honorable Mention: M&M

Each company will be profiled in upcoming issues, and will be awarded their title at an awards ceremony at MoldMaking Expo 2007 in addition to participating in a free lunchtime panel discussion.

Whew. So much to share this month and too little room in this column. Enjoy the issue and Happy New Year!

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