MoldMaking Then and Now

A look back at the topics covered in MMT over the past 20 years.


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This year has been a bit reflective for me so far as I look back on 20 years of covering the moldmaking industry. One of the things that has come to light is the topics. After two decades, the topics are fairly consistent, but each iteration of key topics becomes more and more advanced.

In 1998, we were covering:

  • Network infrastructure 
  • Mold material selection
  • Hot runners
  • High-speed machining
  • At-the-machine CAM
  • ISO certification
  • Polishing
  • Hard skills training
  • Welding
  • Vertical machining centers
  • EDM as the focus of an entire issue
  • Texturing
  • Customer communication
  • Mold spotting
  • Mold heating
  • Employee stock ownership plans
  • Anticorrosion solutions
  • CAM automation
  • Rapid prototyping/tooling

Today, we are discussing:

  • IoT and Industry 4.0
  • Data management
  • Aluminum molds
  • Robots and cobots
  • Lights-out production
  • EDM automation and reduction
  • Hot runner controllers
  • Multi-tasking and hybrid machines
  • Massive machine tools
  • Modular and high-feed tooling
  • Software automation 
  • Process simulation
  • Laser welding
  • Reduced polishing
  • Better surface treatment
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Five-axis machining
  • Local-level training
  • ISO updates
  • Supply chain management
  • Workforce development

Some of the big advances in 20 years have been automation, standardized mold components, more hot-runner usage, five-axis machining becoming more common, fine-tuned inspection processes, maintenance and repair becoming more than just an afterthought, the use of 3D printing for conformal cooling inserts and an increased interest in learning about plastics, plastic processing and molding. 

I would say that the biggest game changer for moldmaking over the past 20 years has been data.

Overall, I would say that the biggest game changer for moldmaking over the past 20 years has been data. From mold design, 3D printing, quoting, job scheduling, machining, automation, inspection, measurement and maintenance, data impacts products and processes across the entire moldmaking operation. Data is king. Now it is a question of learning what to do with all this data that is available to gather and analyze.