MMT Blog

"The greatest companies are really good at communicating," says Tom VanRee of Legacy Precision Molds. And this 14-person shop is committed to a communication process focused on transparency, honesty and not keeping its people in the dark. Part of this process is a strategy for motivating and inspiring employees, which includes inspirational quotes that Tyler VanRee shares with the team. Here is a sampling:

Intrigued? Well, there's more. I sat down with The Manufacturing Alliance Podcast to get to know Tom and Tyler VanRee, the father and son team of Legacy Precision Molds. We tackled corporate culture, family values, succession planning and so much more.

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Phoenix Contact's toolmaking division is "Toolmaker of the Year 2018". After winning the award for the first time in 2016, the company has once again won the prestigious award, which is annually organized by the Fraunhofer IPT and the WZL RWTH Aachen. The award is given annually to the top tool and moldmaking shops, selected by a top-class jury consisting of representatives from industry, trade associations and research.

The award ceremony was held on November 7, 2018 the evening before the 14th international "Tool and Die Making for the Future" colloquium in the majestic setting of the Coronation Room in Aachen’s town hall.

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Anyone who owns a vehicle and who purchased tires for it is probably familiar with Cooper Tires, the flagship brand of parent company Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. (Findlay, Ohio). The Cooper Tires moldmaking plant is based in Findlay and currently designs and builds about 300 molds per year to produce tires for cars, minivans, SUVs/CUVs and pickup trucks.

Dan Duling is Cooper Tires’s project engineer, overseeing the company’s 24/7 moldmaking operations and its 85 employees. About two-and-a-half years ago, his plant took delivery of four new Makino D500 five-axis vertical machining centers (VMCs), a 40-position MMC2 pallet stocker and a FANUC seven-axis robot that operates on a rail system—an update to an aging CNC machining cell comprising 8 five-axis machine tools. Replacing just half of the less-efficient CNC machines with the Makino D500 machines has produced several notable benefits to the moldmaking process, Duling says, and will most likely lead to further investment in machine tools and automation sooner rather than later.

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By: Alan Levine 9. November 2018

Reducing Risk to Implement CAM Software Successfully

Every new technology has a learning curve. For example, properly implementing CAM software poses challenges. When the implementation is done improperly, it can hinder a shop from moving forward technologically. If unable to navigate the implementation, the shop owner faces potential stagnation by staying with existing technology. These challenges are more prevalent in small and medium-sized shops that may not have the formal business processes and labor support to manage the transition to new technology easily. However, shops can overcome these challenges.

New software technology implementation requires management support, out-of-pocket costs and labor planning. The shop should manage and track this implementation as another project, requiring labor and machine allocation. In the short term, a loss of billable time from the machine tool is possible. The owner should only move forward with new software implementation if he or she can realize a return on investment over a defined period. Large capital investment may require a return that is measured in a few months or as long as a few years. Smaller items or more focused productivity improvements can sometimes generate ROI over one subsequent project.

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In recently published roundtable discussions about moldmaking trends and challenges, participants indicated that increasingly complex mold designs and functions have been central in driving industry advancements in services, products and technologies. MoldMaking Technology uncovered that the same forces drive mold-maintenance strategies. Professionals from a few supplier companies share their take on the topic.

Mold maintenance expert and MoldMaking Technology columnist Steve Johnson, president of MoldTrax (Ashland, Ohio), says that molds continue to advance in their design and build. The industry is seeing molds with higher cavitation, faster cycle times and more complexity in the use of hot runner systems, in-mold functions, over-molding, process sensors, engineered resins, mold-monitoring devices, rotating, spinning plates and so on. Because of this, molds today require a higher level of shop maintenance skills and management strategies to safely and effectively run and maintain the molds. “Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to raise the bar as well, requiring their molds to run longer, more cheaply, faster and more reliably while molding quality parts,” he adds. “They want mold builders to go beyond the million-cycle warranties which means that the molder must take better care of the mold to maximize tooling and mold life.”

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