Size Isn’t Everything

This shop thrives on manufacturing very large molds, but its latest machine purchase also reveals much about its plans to process that work as efficiently as possible.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

Given a projected shortage in automotive vendor tooling capacity, the shop hopes to use its new Parpas machine to capitalize on growing opportunities in that market. (Image Courtesy of MSI Mold Builders).

Specializing in very large tools has turned out to be a good choice for MSI Mold Builders—so much so that the company recently expanded its Cedar Rapids, Iowa facility to accommodate demand. The 12,000-square-foot addition wasn’t just about capacity, either. The new equipment it houses, a moving-column, five-axis OMV Formula HMC from Parpas America paired with two new cranes, will enable the shop to handle larger molds than ever before.

Likewise, the expansion wasn’t just about doubling-down on large-part machining capability. Company president Roger Klouda says the shop’s choice of equipment was driven in part by a push perform more work lights-out. For example, unlike the five-axis bridge-types that have historically handled larger parts, the OMV Formula’s horizontal, moving-column configuration ensures chips fall harmlessly away rather than gumming up the work. This enables longer stretches of unattended machining, he says. Another notable feature he deems critical to lights-out operation is an FCS standardized workholding system from Single Source Technologies that eases setup and tool referencing. Finally, the machine has been fully modeled within the shop’s Tebis software. This facilitates the robust simulation required to confidently program machines offline to run overnight. “Right now, we run a staffed operation for three shifts, but our goal is to run 24/7 with only one shift manned. That would increase throughput and decrease costs,” Klouda says.     

Down the road, I’d like to follow up with Klouda to check in on the shop’s progress toward that goal. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, this article provides more details about the shop’s expansion as well as its plans to parlay its large-part machining capability into the automotive market.