Industry Developments Provide a Competitive Edge

This overview of moldmaking-related trends and technologies to watch for in 2006 provides a glimpse into what was happening 10 years ago. It is interesting to see what has changed and what has not changed.


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According to a 2006 report from contributor John Krisko, industry trends back then supported being more competitive. That meant being able to trim production time, increase quality and do so at lower cost. An overriding trend was the movement to near net shape—improvements in technology, machine accuracy, control technology and modeling software—that allowed the mold and toolmaker to drop a piece that is very close to or exactly what the customer wants. No room is left for error. Pieces are not finished by hand, with grinding or other methods.

Here are three of the 10 trends reviewed:

  • 3-D printing (3DP). 3DP allows proto-types to be rendered quickly from CAD drawings. Thousands of thin layers of powder are used to create a 3-D model. Because the process bypasses patternmaking, it can hurry moldmaking straight to prototyping and casting. Reports have been heard of foundries reducing casting time from 17 to three days.
  • Increased use of high-speed machining to reduce hand finishing of molds. Machining centers with light, fast, accurate milling passes now can machine a surface to its intended finish and dimensions and, by doing so, eliminate the need for hand finishing.
  • Side-by-side machining. The number of setups and operations are reduced with side-by-side machining as compared to the use of conventional machining. The core and cavity of a mold are machined side-by-side—as left- and right-hand faces—from a single workpiece on a multitasking machine. Accuracy is enhanced as both mold halves retain perfect orientation to each other until separation.

Click here for the other seven and see how things have changed, or not changed, in 10 years.