MMT Blog

Harbour Results, Inc.  released the results of the Harbour IQ in-depth study on the current state of the automotive vendor tooling industry. The analysis predicts 2019 automotive vendor tooling spend to be $8 billion.

The key factor driving decreased tooling spend is the decreased number of North American vehicle launches predicted between 2019 and 2021 (153 vehicles) versus the number of vehicles launched in North America between 2016-2018  (183 vehicles). Also, the Detroit Three automakers, who source most of their tools in this region, are forecasted to source only nine vehicles in 2019.

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By: Kristen Kilroy 31. October 2018

Surface Finish Considerations for Better Molds

Surface finish is one of the most important considerations when creating a mold. Key factors include mold material and customer-required tolerances. For example, silicon requires a mirror finish to work properly, as sometimes the finished piece cannot be touched and residue and oil from machinists’ hands cause issues. Aesthetics also can play a huge role in surface finish decisions, as the the mold’s surface finish could dramatically change the final part’s application. Here is a look at a few more surface finish considerations for making better molds.

Texture. Some molds need to be textured. For example, if operators are making a mold of a medical part—like an endoscope, which a surgeon needs to hold with gloves—they will need to develop a uniform texture for gripping. Medical utensils often need to have a highly tactile capability. The grip is part of that, but something as basic as how the tool feels also is important. When surgeons are doing delicate work, they need to be able to hold their tools properly, and the tool should also feel comfortable in their hand.

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Registering 51.4 for August 2018, the Gardner Business Index (GBI): Moldmaking recorded another month of volatile but slowing growth since reaching an all-time high in February. Compared to the same month one year ago, the Moldmaking Index is down 9.3 percent, but compared to the beginning of the calendar year, it is down 15.8 percent. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data for the month reveals that contraction in new orders and backlog and no change in employment and exports were the primary drivers of the four-point drop in the Moldmaking Index between July and August. Supplier deliveries continued its accelerating growth trajectory for another month, which helped the Moldmaking Index from falling further in August.

The contraction in new orders was a surprise given the strength of the overall manufacturing economy in 2018. The latest new orders reading marks an end to the longest continuous expansion in new orders on record at almost 20 months. By comparison, the prior new orders record, which was set in 2014, lasted only eight months. 

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Moldmaking may be known as a one-off industry, but that is not an accurate description of the current employment landscape across many mold shops. Those who are under 30 are entering and staying in this niche trade. And, I am not just talking about one noteworthy individual—I am seeing multiple workers under 30 making an impact across the shop floor in everything from engineering departments to human resources and marketing. Today's blog features those among them who are human resources professionals.

 

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Midwest Mold Services (Midwest Mold) in Roseville, Michigan, used to outsource boring mill and gundrill work to companies that service the overflow from mold builders with more work than they can handle. It became clear over the last two years that with the boom in automotive jobs came elongated lines of shops waiting for that work to be done and returned. Once the work came back, the rush would begin and overtime became standard, as were extended lead times. Because of this, Midwest Mold became the first mold shop in the United States to purchase a CNC machine from Cheto Corp. S.A. (Oliveira de Azeméis, Portugal), an investment that brought the outsourced work in-house and solved multiple challenges, according to Midwest Mold President and CEO John Hill.

Plastics engineers founded Midwest Mold in 1994. They were seeking to provide support to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their Tier 1 custom molders. Hill says, “I came from a large production mold builder, and every time we would get these emergency repairs or engineering changes, it would interrupt the flow of the new tool builds and jeopardize delivery dates. We saw that as an opportunity.” Going down that path was a very good opportunity, he says. However, it became very cyclical in nature—when molds were not breaking, less work was available. Before long, regular customers began asking for new molds, and because Midwest Mold had all the necessary equipment (like the ability to receive and process mold data, CNC machines, programming software and a skilled workforce), the company began building new molds. “The rest is history, as they say,” Hill says. “Today, about 75 percent of our revenue is new tool construction, and then a portion of that is prototypes, repairs and engineering changes to tools that we have built.” In 2006, the company began offering low-volume molding of non-automotive plastic parts in an effort not to compete with its customer base.

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