MMT Blog

Using the financial data submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) along with forecasts provided by major Wall Street brokerages, Gardner Intelligence has compiled the financial results for 17 publicly-traded firms in the containers and packaging sectors to assess the current and future state of the industry. The results reveal an industry that has experienced eight consecutive quarters of revenues and earnings growth through the third quarter of 2018. Total inflation-adjusted revenue and earnings growth during this time were 12.6 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively. In the latest quarter, the containers and packaging sectors achieved year-on-year revenue growth (known as the “12/12” rate of change) of 9.2 percent. Similarly, earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation (EBITDA) achieved a 12/12 growth rate of 12.2 percent during the same period. These strong results enabled the industry to achieve a profit margin not seen since the great recession.

The industry’s financial success in recent years has also been well captured by the Plastics Processing Index (a product of Gardner Intelligence), which measures fundamental business conditions as reported by plastics processors. Among the six components that constitute this Business Index, 2017 and 2018 data indicate an industry which has rarely expanded faster. The Index since 2017 has been driven in large part by growth in new orders, production and supplier deliveries. Backlog data collected since the first quarter of 2018 suggests that the industry has struggled to raise production levels sufficiently to match new orders growth, resulting in significant expansion of backlogs in the current calendar year.

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By: Steve Johnson 14. February 2019

Maintaining Mold Components

The typical injection mold comprises hundreds of types of plates and tooling components that help to form and eject a molded part. Component type, required function, and construction dictate the proper maintenance procedure and frequency plan. To help toolroom technicians better understand the time and money they are spending on mold component maintenance, we have classified mold components into three categories: frame plates, frame components, and cavity tooling.

Frame or base plates include only the individual mold plates, which can range from seven plates in a simple stripper plate mold to 20 or more, depending upon mold size and complexity. Frame components include all tooling that is within the frame that does not form the part. For example, guide or leader pins, bushings, return pins, interlocks, bolts, and seals. Ejector pins are often also placed in this category. Cavity tooling is the most critical and expensive tooling in a mold because it includes the cavities, cores, sleeves, and pins that directly form the part. Cavity components dictate dimensional and aesthetic part features, so they are costly to build and replace. 

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Surface treatments for molds are like icing on a cake. After a mold is built or repaired, moldmakers finish the mold by polishing and plating (coating) both cores and cavities, as well as any high-wear components.

Mold polishing is used to create smooth and polished surfaces using techniques like blasting, stoning, gritted paper or diamond buffing. Etching and lasers are used to product texture profiles. Many still consider polishing an art form because it takes time, practice, and patience to become skilled at it. Coatings options are more diverse today, though most incorporate some level of chrome or nickel to produce mold surfaces that resist corrosion and abrasion and promote better part release. Whichever finish a customer desires, more than anything the objective is to ensure the mold produces plastic parts better and faster.

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By: Matt Sand 12. February 2019

Integrating the Power of AM into Injection Molding

3D printing has often been portrayed as a natural complement to injection molding. After all, injection molding is a high-leverage manufacturing process where extremely high tooling costs are offset by low unit costs at high volumes. Additive manufacturing (AM), particularly where metals are concerned, has presented the balancing value proposition with tooling and setup costs representing a relatively low figure in comparison to the steep per-part variable costs. However, innovation in these two fields has presented an intriguing combination of the technologies: using AM technology to produce molds and mold inserts.

Some of the advantages to this approach closely mirror the advantages of 3D printing end-use products or components. For example, required changes are easier with printed mold inserts than with CNC-milled parts; highly complex, conformally-cooled mold inserts are easier to develop using AM; and, the cost of a 3D-printed mold insert can be significantly lower than a traditionally-manufactured mold.

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By: Don Smith 11. February 2019

Mold Building Stats Improve Performance

Mold manufacturing requires using measurement to a shop’s advantage because what gets measured, gets done. I’ve played golf with players who want to improve their game, and the one thing I noticed is that they keep track of their shots in one form or another (fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts). You might be asking, “Who am I to be tracking my stats? I’m just an average player.” Well, average players can become good players, and good players can become exceptional players. You must introduce objective analysis to see areas where you can improve your performance, so you can maximize your practice sessions and work on those things that are causing the most grief in your game. Sometimes it is just easier to keep things vague and fuzzy, but if that impedes the results you are looking for, then it might be time to introduce some type of measurement to improve your game.

This is nothing new. If you’ve watched the Olympics, for example, you witnessed some of the most finely-tuned athletes in the world compete in events where hundredths of a second count. These are some of the most measured athletes on the planet. From their caloric intake to their workout repetitions and training schedules, they are measured in supreme detail because they know it produces results. It makes them better than the competition.

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