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New Business Opportunities: New Equipment Investment Solidifies Medical Mold Prototyping Niche


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Investing in an additional high-speed machining center and converting to electric presses rather than hydraulic has allowed mold manufacturer/molder Injection Mold, Inc. (North Vernon, IN) to step up its game by speeding up already quick delivery times. Honing in on this specialty has even allowed the company to attract even more new customers for the medical mold rapid prototyping niche they have built up over the last several years as well as the other industries the company serves.

The company began to produce P20 and aluminum prototyping tools approximately eight years ago when business was down and foreign competition proved challenging. Injection Mold General Manager Joe Vawter sat down with the president of the company—his father Delbert—and decided they should capitalize on producing prototype tools. The duo believed this was an area Injection Mold could excel in since the company could beat Chinese delivery times. Plus, Vawter says that a good deal of medical work is built within the U.S., and Injection Mold had the quality requirements in place due to already serving this industry, so it was prudent to continue down this path.

 According to Vawter, the company’s reputation in the industry for speed is impeccable, as evidenced by its repeat business. "Customers come right to us when they need something quick, without even considering their other suppliers because we are the quickest," Vawter states. "This has helped us to establish our reputation as far as the speed and prototype end. Our RP work is production ready and dimensionally correct—meeting our customers’ requirements."

Vawter points out that since the new equipment has been added to the shop, RP tools that used to take five to 15 days to produce now take two to 15 days; and production tools used to take five to six weeks to produce, but now is anywhere from two to six weeks.

 

A Need for Speed

When Injection Mold first started to focus on RP work, the shop traded in older CNCs for new high-speed mills and EDMs to revamp the shop with the latest in technology and equipment. The newest purchases—a high-speed machine and three electric presses to sample and validate all molds before they are sent out as well as provide parts for the company’s RP molds—have streamlined operations and allowed the company to produce its medical molds even more quickly. "This has really opened doors for us during tough times by allowing us revenue when our production tool business was down," Vawter notes. "We have been fortunate to stay on top and pick up more new medical customers."

 

Injection Mold also is changing its software package it uses for RP work. "We just switched software programs," Vawter elaborates. "We have been studying which packages work best with our high-speed machines. We found one that works very well with our machines, which will help us increase productivity because of a smoother flow of information and less glitches. We plan on sending some of our employees to the software facility for training, and will slowly phase out our current software."

Fortunately Injection Mold’s customers also are the company’s most effective method of advertising. "Word-of-mouth is our best advertising tool," Vawter notes. "It is how we have landed most of our customers within the last three years. I am counting on that to get the work out on our new equipment additions."

The company plans on continuing to perfect its processes when it comes to the medical industry by investing in more high speed machines and electric presses, and possibly adding a new building devoted to molding. "The medical business is one that never slows down," Vawter states. "It is good for business, but not good that people fall ill. This market has opened new doors for us with our additional customers and we believe that will continue."

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