AMBA Plant Tour at M.R. Mold & Engineering
AMBA Plant Tour Workshop
M.R. Mold & Engineering, Brea, CA
February 12, 2016 8am - 12:30pm PST
$89 AMBA Members $189 Non-Members
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With a steadfast commitment to over-the-top precision and tight tolerance levels beyond industry standards, M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp, Brea, CA, has built a stronghold in the medical silicone market. Specializing in the fields of liquid silicone rubber (LSR), gum stock silicone and plastic injection molds, M.R. Mold has positioned its operation as a strategic, global leader amongst a demanding, 'no-room-for-error' customer base.
The company's keen attention to detail is prevalent throughout the organization, from the tight-tolerance, flashless molds it manufactures to the personal, long-term relationships it cultivates with both its employees and its customers. By design, M.R. Mold has combined savvy marketing strategies and industry education to successfully brand the company's expertise in silicone worldwide. Through accuracy, innovation and a "customer first" philosophy, M.R. Mold is cutting a path to future global growth.
The LSR Learning Curve
Article From: MoldMaking Technology, Matthew Danford
, from MoldMaking Technology, Posted 11/1/2015
This increasingly popular thermoset material follows very different rules than any plastic.
A typical example of M.R. Mold’s work,this 32-cavity LSR mold for a consumer electronics part features a three-plate design and intricate cavity detail.
A part produced from the consumer electronics mold in the first picture.
M.R. Mold’s latest machine, the Yasda YBM vi40 from Methods Machine Tools, was chosen for more than the time savings that come with five-axis capability. LSR molds require the highest levels of precision, and this mold-and-die-industry hard milling system achieved 2.32-micron circularity in a tilted-cone machining test.
Here are just a few examples of LSR parts produced using M.R. Mold tooling: a baby bottle nipple...
...micro-molded medical parts...
...a cable clamp that consists of silicone molded over nylon.
Given the risk of flash, LSR tools like this valve lip seal mold employ side locks (the orange components visible here) for alignment rather than leader pins and bushings. Meanwhile, silicone vacuum seals (the blue strips, which M.R. Mold also sells in increments of 50 feet) ensure an airtight fit around the parting line.
LSR requires creativity when it comes to removing parts from the mold. This particular tool employs pop-up ejection.
At M.R. Mold & Engineering, orders for plastic injection tooling often inspire high fives on the shop floor. “I hope this doesn’t offend some of my friends in the industry, but we’ve found that plastic molds are just easier,” says Rick Finnie, company president. Although M.R. Mold churns out plenty of those, its true competitive edge is expertise in liquid silicone rubber (LSR), a free-flowing thermoset material.
This is an edge that’s proven particularly lucrative lately. Thanks largely to expanding use of this thermoset material, the pace of this Brea, California, company’s growth has been unprecedented during the past few years, Finnie says.
However, he emphasizes that market forces alone would never have been enough for the company to become one of the few go-to sources of LSR tooling on this continent. A specialized sector requires specialized knowledge, and gaining the ability to deal effectively with requirements foreign to thermoplastic tools took years of experimentation and a commitment to prioritize this work over all else. The case is the same for developing niche processing expertise that’s in high demand among molders and OEMs moving into this sector. In fact, M.R. Mold even markets its own auxiliary products, which run the gamut from material feed to part ejection (learn more in this companion article
Having come this far, Finnie and the rest of the company’s leadership are confident that M.R. Mold will maintain its reputation for LSR for as long as these applications are in demand. In the meantime, he says they’re more than happy to share their expertise with the broader industry.
Catching a Wave
M.R. Mold hasn’t always been known for LSR. Founded as a rubber compression and transfer moldmaker by Finnie and a single employee in 1985, the shop grew steadily until the industry experienced an exodus of work overseas around the turn of the century. With previous experience in building molds for this thermoset material, he and his team saw an opportunity to emphasize LSR work and carve out a niche.
The shop hasn’t looked back, and the time and effort required to truly master LSR has proven well worth it. Sales are expected to reach the $5 million mark for the first time ever this year, and LSR constitutes about 90 percent of that business, says Geralyn Anderson, marketing director. During the past few years, the 15,000-square-foot facility has added six new employees, bringing the grand total to 30, and added a slew of new equipment, including a high-end Yasda VMC, a laser engraver, a new injection press (the shop has five) and more. Nonetheless, backlogs reached unprecedented levels in 2014 and 2015.
This activity is being driven largely by OEMs finding new applications for LSR, Anderson says, particularly in the medical and consumer products industries. In addition to being fully biocompatible, the material tolerates harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures. That makes it useful for medical devices subjected to high heat during sterilization, or perhaps bakewear that can be stored in a freezer, Anderson points out. It’s also ideal for overmolding onto certain plastic, whether for instrument panel keypads or biocompatible (and comfortable) surgical instrument handles. Another advantage of LSR is flexibility. The material is not only strong, but also highly elastic. Additionally, its viscosity in liquid form is so low that it can fill cavities that are far too small for molten plastic.
A Different World
However, even the most experienced thermoplastic toolmaker or molder will find that certain strategies just don’t translate to LSR, which is processed very differently, Finnie says. For one, there are no hardened pellets in these applications. Rather, the material ships as two separate compounds, both with a thick, paste-like consistency. Blending these compounds in a mixing/metering system (whether a press-mounted unit or an auxiliary device) creates a chemical reaction that, along with heat, drives the material to cure into a solid. Keeping it in the liquid state for molding is accomplished via a water-cooled injection barrel and/or runner system, and the mold itself is zone-heated to temperatures ranging from 300°F to 400°F.
Suffice it to say that a different process for a different material requires different thinking, from the design of the tool all the way through part ejection from the press. Here are a few examples that Finnie cites as most significant:• Cold manifolds.
As is the case with thermoplastic applications, many LSR molds feature runnerless construction—that is, one that delivers material via a dedicated manifold that leaves no runners or sprues to eject with the part. The difference is that LSR manifolds feature water-cooled channels rather than the heaters employed by plastic injection mold hot runners.
The advantages are similar for both types of tooling. Namely, cycles are faster because there is less material to process, and having no runners to remove facilitates demolding automation. However, these advantages are more pronounced with LSR, Finnie says. One reason is that curing LSR tends to take longer than cooling plastic, Finnie says. That translates to greater cycle time improvements, particularly for small parts that that might weigh less than a traditional runner. What’s more, LSR can’t be reused once cured, and the material tends to be more expensive than plastic resins.• Closer fits.
Regardless of whether the design calls for a cold deck, the toolmaker has to contend with the fact that LSR flows like water in its heated, liquid state. In fact, its viscosity is so low that it will flash into gaps as small as 0.0002 inch, Finnie says. That means plates must be parallel and flat, fits and clearances are critical, and only the highest levels of precision will do. “I’ve had some knowledgeable people in this industry say they won’t accept a drawing with less than five thousandths flash extension,” Finnie says.• Vacuum sealing.
Such tight fits don’t leave much room for venting air and any residual gasses from the cavity prior to material injection. Adding to this challenge is the fact that LSR undergoes a gas-creating chemical reaction when the two constituent components are mixed. Thus, these applications typically require vacuum pumps to help clear cavities of all gasses immediately prior to injection. Proper application of a vacuum pump also requires an air-tight seal around the entire parting line, typically in the form of fitted silicone strips.• Tighter gating.
LSR’s low viscosity has implications beyond fits and clearances. “Large gates are one of the biggest giveaways that a silicone mold was made by a plastic shop,” Finnie says, noting that a typical LSR gate might measure only 0.003-inch deep. Smaller gates lead to other considerations as well. For instance, smaller runners should be fully round if possible to avoid breakage, and standard plastic-injection sprue bushings are usually far too large to achieve efficient cycle time in an LSR application.• Tighter venting.
What’s more, the use of a vacuum pump doesn’t preclude the need for dedicated vents. Given the risk of flash, those vents are typically far smaller—and more demanding to machine—compared to their plastic industry counterparts. Most measure 0.0001 or 0.002 inch deep, whereas plastic mold vents don’t trend much smaller than 0.0005 inch or so, Finnie says. At M.R. Mold, vents might be milled, ground, burned or even laser-machined within depth tolerances measured in the millionths of an inch.
Similarly to many plastic toolmakers, M.R. Mold employs Sigmasoft virtual molding software from Sigma Plastic Services to ensure vents are located at the last place in the cavity where material will reach. However, this tactic is particularly critical for LSR molds, because the need for tight fits between components in these tools presents fewer options for venting. For instance, straight-walled ejector pin holes can’t double as vents in LSR tooling, because the material would flash into the gap surrounding the pin. Only a tapered shutoff will do. • Fewer moving parts.
Ejector pins aren’t the only common mold component missing from most LSR tools. These molds don’t usually incorporate slides, lifters or other moving actions either. That’s because undercuts simply aren’t as much of a concern. As an example, Finnie cites a protective face mask that can literally be peeled off the core without risk of damage—the material will simply stretch and snap back into place.• Challenging ejection scenarios.
Although the material’s high elasticity can simplify mold designs, LSR presents its own challenges for part ejection. With plastic, the right mold design can ensure the material will essentially wrap itself onto a specific portion of the geometry as it cools and shrinks. However, that’s not the case with LSR, which expands as it cures. “We have to go to extra lengths to ensure that parts will be where we want them to be when the mold opens,” Finnie says.
Consider the baby bottle nipple pictured in the gallery on the right side of this page. The large flange at the bottom prevents the nipple from falling into the bottle. However, it’s also molded with an undercut that tends to keep the whole part stuck in the cavity. To keep the part on the core side for effective de-molding at the customer’s plant, the tool incorporates a second undercut to mold the rib visible just above the bottom flange. Actual ejection is accomplished via a stripper plate and a core-side air blower.
Partner and Ambassador
Factors like those outlined here make LSR different enough and challenging enough that Finnie recommends sourcing molds only from manufacturers that specialize in this tooling. Granted, deep collaboration between toolmakers and molders is important throughout the industry. However, it’s often even more critical for a material that is gaining in popularity even as it remains foreign to many.
This is why, for M.R. Mold, expertise is perhaps the most valuable currency. It’s also a currency the shop is willing to spend freely, even beyond direct dealings with customers. Claiming that M.R. Mold is one of a handful of North American shops that can do this tooling well, Anderson says Finnie and the rest of the leadership take the company’s role as LSR ambassador quite seriously. Seriously enough that Finnie is an instructor in a silicone elastomers class at both Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Although processors are the primary target, Anderson says all are encouraged to attend. “We’d rather have competitors doing it well than have a bunch of frustrated people out there who don’t understand it,” she says. “If we’re going to keep manufacturing in the U.S., the industry needs to be educated.”
A Mold Shop OEM
Article From: MoldMaking Technology, Matthew Danford
, from MoldMaking Technology
Posted on: 11/2/2015
Years of helping customers save time and money in liquid silicone rubber (LSR)—a material that involves very different considerations from plastics—has led this shop to develop its own product line.
M.R. Mold’s cold runner systems are available in standard and built-to-order patterns for single, 2-, 4-, 8-, and 16-drop configurations with various options. The standard cold runner system is 9 7/8 wide by 11 7/8 long, and the nozzles are 3.5 center to center in distance.
Designed primarily for prototyping and short-run production, the stuffer box enables quick cleaning and material changes.
The company says its vacuum seals (the blue sealing strips visible on this tool) feature a tapered body that prevents pinching by the parting line and the compression set seen when using typical O-rings.
As detailed in this feature article
, molding liquid silicone rubber (LSR) requires a completely different mindset from molding plastic. The same goes for manufacturing the tooling. Different enough, in fact, that a shop focused mostly on this niche day-in and day-out is more likely to develop its own innovative methods of saving time and money for customers.
So says Rick Finnie, president of M.R. Mold & Engineering, a Brea, California-based shop that thrives on decades of experience in LSR. Over the years, the shop has parlayed many time- and cost-saving strategies into its own line of specialty equipment, some of which it even sells to competitors. The line includes the following:*Pneumatic Stuffer Box.
Changing to different LSR grades in prototyping, short-run and micro-molding applications typically requires breaking down and cleaning the pumping unit on the press, a time-consuming task when seconds count. As an alternative, the shop offers pneumatic stuffer boxes in various sizes and pressure ratings. Customers mold one material, detach the stuffer, place it in the fridge for the next use, and move on to the next material. This can significantly reduce changeover times, Finnie says, and the stuffer box’s single cylinder is easier to clean.*Universal Base.
Also designed with changeovers in mind, this system keeps costs low by enabling customers to swap out interchangeable inserts instead of the entire tool.
M.R. Mold manufactures and markets its own tapered, hollow-body silicone parting-line seals in increments of 50 feet.
*Cold runner system.
From the very outset of M.R. Mold’s journey into LSR, off-the-shelf cold runner manifolds have been more difficult to find than hot runners, and customers often complained about them anyway, Finnie says. So, the company developed its own cold deck. Available in open-nozzle as well as valve-gated configurations, this system is a portable, self-contained assembly that can be re-used for multiple jobs.
Given the challenges of de-molding LSR and the fact that every job is different, designing and building end-of-arm tooling has long been commonplace at M.R. Mold. Knock-out pins, various types of mold sweeps, various types of grippers—all are common here, Finnie says. Deciding on the best solution for the job is typically a lengthy process involving significant trial-and-error and back-and-forth with the customer.*Custom integral robot.
Years of working on creative ejection solutions led M.R. Mold to recognize an opportunity to develop its own robot, one designed specifically to be customized for LSR applications. Described by Finnie as a "relatively simple" system, the single-axis robot can incorporate a wide range of the aforementioned end-of-arm tooling. Mounting to the top of the mold or to the press, it is available in both hydraulic and pneumatic configurations and in both sweep and grip/push/release styles.
Reshoring Contributed to China's Slowdown!!!!!
Producing Near The Consumer Gains Traction
According to the Harvard Business Review, some of China’s slowdown is due to “near-shoring.” The article, “You Can’t Understand China’s Slowdown Without Understanding Supply Chains
,” by David Simchi-Levi of the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation
, cites a number of surveys that demonstrate that companies are ‘…moving from a global manufacturing strategy, whose focus is on low-cost countries, to a more regional strategy…” For the U.S. that means U.S., Canada and Mexico.Forbes Agrees
Author Kevin O’Marah summarizes the big picture of reshoring by saying “…it is really more about increasingly localized supply chain designs. The idea is not only to reduce risk and total landed cost, but also take advantage of technology trends including robotics, additive manufacturing and internet-of-things to offer more customized products finished closer to the point of sale.” Read MoreCertificate Programs Increasing
The U.S. is making progress in bridging the skilled workforce gap. “The U.S. Dept. of Education reports that sub-baccalaureate certificates such as associate’s degrees awarded in construction, manufacturing and transportation, jumped by 67.8% from 2000 to 2012, compared with 46.6% growth in four-year college enrollment during the same period.” Learn more here
. The Reshoring Initiative cooperates with NIMS
(National Institute for Metalworking Skills) and MSSC
(Manufacturing Skill Standards Council). Both have averaged about 15% annual growth in certificates awarded per year for the last 10 years, accelerating higher in the last 2 to 3 years.
Take a look at what we are preparing for you...........
The Reshoring Initiative and Walmart Launch Effort to Help Suppliers Reshore
Please direct all questions to:
Sandy Montalbano, Reshoring Initative
CHICAGO, Ill. August 20, 2015 — The Reshoring Initiative recently announced a program in partnership with Walmart to help companies manufacture more consumer products in the United States.
Walmart has committed to increase its U.S. purchases by $50 billion annually by January 2023. Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative observed, “We were honored to be called on by Walmart to support its Made in USA program. We estimate the company’s increased purchases will add 300,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs. Helping Walmart succeed fits our Mission perfectly.”
The new program provides direct, personal access to 35 manufacturing trade associations, companies, banks, U.S. Commerce Department offices and other groups. Each group has assigned dedicated resources to help companies develop and implement plans to produce or source more domestically produced goods. The program launch was coordinated with Walmart’s Open Call and U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Bentonville, Arkansas, which was attended by the U.S. Commerce Secretary, two governors and current and prospective suppliers.
The Reshoring Support page on Walmart’s JUMP (Jobs in U.S. Manufacturing Portal) site links to the Reshoring Initiative’s Resources for Retail Suppliers page, which contains resources to facilitate and accelerate supplier efforts. Issues from product selection, to cost reduction, managing the transition to reshoring and financing are included for large, small, foreign and domestic companies. The resources offer guidance to help manufacturers select products and succeed in profitably producing or sourcing products in the United States.
“When Walmart committed to buy an additional $250 billion over 10 years in products that support American jobs, we knew we could also play an important role as facilitator and accelerator,” said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president of US manufacturing at Walmart. “We created Walmart-Jump.com to help companies find resources on manufacturing in the U.S. The Reshoring Initiative’s support page is a great addition to that resource library.”
Harry Moser noted, “Based on published articles accessible in our Library, the Reshoring Initiative concludes that Walmart has supported at least 43 suppliers to add 4,579 or more U.S. manufacturing jobs so far, and is currently the largest force driving reshoring. The Reshoring Initiative is delighted to provide these resources to accelerate this effort. We call on other retailers to get on board.” He added, “We thank the 35 groups that have volunteered as resources. Their personal commitment will make this program a success.”
The Reshoring Initiative seeks to expand the scope and impact of the Resources for Retail Suppliers page by incorporating expertise from additional sources and adding more participating retailers. We call on manufacturers to use the resources, other relevant groups to volunteer to be listed and retailers that are interested in Made in USA to provide a contact point to be displayed along with the Walmart JUMP site.
Companies can help improve manufacturing employment by consistently utilizing advanced metrics for supply chain sourcing decisions. The Reshoring Initiative’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Estimator is the best-known publically available tool for this purpose. The TCO Estimator allows users to easily determine the total cost of offshoring by accounting for and understanding the relevant offshoring costs, which include inventory carrying costs, shipping expenses, intellectual property risks and more.
About The Reshoring Initiative
A 48-year manufacturing industry veteran and retired President of GF AgieCharmilles, Harry Moser founded the Reshoring Initiative to move lost jobs back to the United States. For his efforts with the Reshoring Initiative, he was named to Industry Week magazine’s Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2010. Additional information on the Reshoring Initiative is available at www.reshorenow.org.
# # #
Callie SpitsonPublic Relations & Media Coordinator
dgs Marketing Engineers
About dgs Marketing Engineersdgs Marketing Engineers is the leading business-to-business advertising agency for industrial manufacturers in North America. We help companies craft unique brand identities, sell complex products, and build lifetime customer relationships.
M.R.Mold Hosts Manufacturing Day Event
Facility TourOctober 2, 2015 10:00am - 3:00pm 2700 E Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
Shop tours will be given every 2 hours. In addition, Management personnel will be available to answer questions about who we are, what we do and how explain how manufacturing is being reshored and the need for the training of a new generation of workers. Closed toed shoes required.For More Event Information
Geri Anderson 714-996-5511 email@example.com
M.R. Mold adds 11th CNC Center
M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. of Brea, Calif., invested about $700,000 in acquiring its 11th computer-numerically controlled machining center and complementary computer-aided manufacturing software.
The mold maker received delivery of a Yasda YBM Vi40 precision center on Aug. 11 and began training technicians to prepare for the machine’s start of operations.
M.R. Mold acquired the Vi40 through Methods Machine Tools Inc. of Sudbury Mass. Machine manufacturer Yasda Precision Tools KK of Satosho, Japan, utilizes in-house production for all Vi40 components.
The machine’s jig bore mill frame and three-axis movement supply a rigid platform that can morph into a five-axis system with the addition of a massive tilting rotary table. The machine weighs 30,000 pounds.
The Vi40 model has five-sided machining with a single set-up, and the structure is designed for hard milling die mold applications. Rick Finnie, M.R. Mold president, anticipated the machine will significantly reduce the number of process steps and machining times.
For concurrent implementation, M.R. Mold purchased version 2015.1 of hyperMill CAM software from Open Mind Technologies AG of Wessling, Germany.
M.R. Mold occupies 15,000 square feet and employs 30.
M.R. Mold Showcases Manufacturing to Youth
Jennifer KarpusStudents and teachers listen to M.R. Mold President Rick Finnie explain a machine's functions during a tour of the company for high school students.
BREA, CALIF. — Getting young generations excited about the field of manufacturing has been a challenge for many companies, but one has found a way to gain some momentum.
M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. recently invited students from Century High School in Santa Ana, Calif., to tour its facility.
Students were given the opportunity to learn about silicone and plastic molding in an effort to give students a career path they may have not considered previously.
Geri Anderson, marketing director for M.R. Mold, said the seed was planted for the visit in February, when she met representatives from Century High School at the MD&M West Show in Anaheim, Calif.
Educators were speaking to Anderson about the need to get young people into manufacturing. This need matched one of the initiatives of the National Tooling and Machinery Association (NTMA) — of which M.R. Mold is a member — and Anderson wanted to see how the company could team with the school.
Century offers a STEAM program — science, technology, engineering, art and math — in which students “actually take engineering classes” along with some technology and science courses as well, Anderson said.
“They are trying to get them prepared for life,” she said. “And I was really intrigued because high schools these days do not have those kinds of classes.”
Whereas many school districts have eliminated woodworking, metal shop and automotive course work, Century still is offering courses for the trades.
Brea-based M.R. Mold wanted to get involved with this in some capacity, so the school and firm worked together to create an event.
It started on May 26, when Rick Finnie, M.R. Mold president, visited Century and gave a 45-minute presentation to introduce the students to what silicone and plastics are, along with what it is that M.R. Mold does.
In the week that followed, Anderson said teachers instructed students to do an online scavenger hunt on the M.R. Mold company website to raise awareness of Finnie’s presentation and their upcoming visit to the firm’s facility.
On June 9, M.R. Mold hosted 18 students at its plant. It originally was supposed to be 30 students, but seniors were taking final exams and could not attend.
NTMA and R.D. Abbott also attended the event to make it a “well-rounded program,” Anderson said.
NTMA spoke to students about its training programs and getting into manufacturing. Afterward, students took a tour of the M.R. Mold shop.
The tour started in design, where Mike Coleman, engineering manager, spent about 20 minutes detailing SolidWorks, showing students a particular mold and the steps it took to build it.
Anderson said students saw a print drawing of the completed mold and were able to see what the mold looked like.
Students were divided into two groups led by Finnie and Brian Geisel, operations manager.
They explained “each machine and its process and its importance in the whole scope of the work,” Anderson said.
“They got a sense of the whole entire picture ... from start to finish.”
Students got to tour the technology center, where they did some compression molding with R.D. Abbott. Anderson said a plastic mold was running at the time, along with a fully robotic silicone mold in one of the other molding machines.
College vs. trades
One idea posed to students is that college is not for everyone, and “sometimes taking these skills and working with your hands and building things ... is better for one student than it is for the other,” she said.
While the majority of visiting students were part of the STEAM program, Anderson said a few were not but were just interested in learning more.
“Whether they decide to go into manufacturing or not, we just felt that we opened up an avenue to these kids that maybe they weren’t aware of,” she said. “Even if they go back and talk to their peers, it may spark interest in someone who had not attended to at least look into it and see if this is something they want to do.
“We explained that coming into the trade, you don’t instantly make money, but you’re making money along the way — instead of going to school for four years and coming out with a great deal of student loans.
“And there’s an advantage in that, if in fact this is something that they’re thinking about.”
Interest from students
Students showed a good deal of interest, she said. M.R. Mold asked students to fill out evaluations after their time at the facility, and it is clear from those evaluations that they learned more about the molding industry.
According to the survey, several students indicated they “maybe” are interested in becoming a mold maker or mold engineer.
The majority of students wanted to learn more about mold making and the molding industry after their time at M.R. Mold.
“There were a couple of students that just couldn’t get enough information,” Anderson said. “There was one girl in that class who was enthusiastic and wanted to know why there weren’t more women in the industry.”
Anderson told them that while the industry did not seem to have many women in the past, more are coming into the field these days.
The day was a success, with students spending more than three hours at the shop. Anderson said Century High School was open to returning in the fall with another group of students who want to learn more about manufacturing.
“It is our hope we can get more high schools to ... buy into the tour and the possibility of giving these kids a little bit more options,” she said.
The company would like to initiate the program at the grade school level if it is applicable, Anderson said.
“Sometimes getting to the kids in seventh or eighth grade is just as important as getting to them when they are juniors and seniors in high school,” Anderson said, “because they don’t know what they want to do, and we have a little bit more chance to get their thought process going at a younger age.”
M.R. Mold Purchases YASDA
The new purchase is expected to increase capability for machining complex geometry to tight tolerances.
by: Matt Danford
Silicone mold manufacturer M.R. Mold & Engineering (Brea, CA) has purchased a Yasda Vi40 five-axis vertical jig borer in response to demand for more complex tooling. The Vi40 is capable of full five-axis machining, reducing machining time by approximately one-fifth.
"In order to better serve our customers and drive down lead times, purchasing a five-axis is something that needed to be done," says Rick Finnie, president of M.R. Mold & Engineering. "Seventy percent of the molds we build have complex geometry, and the capabilities of the Yasda five-axis will enable us to increase our already finite capabilities."
According to the company, the decision to purchase a Yasda was based in part on consultations with American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) colleagues as it searched for a system with high enough precision and accuracy to serve medical-industry customers. The company says it particularly appreciates the fact that "the quality control by Yasda is 100-percent driven by in-house production of 100 percent of the machine."
Featuring a rigid structure for hard-milling die and mold components, the Vi40's single-setup, five-sided machining capability significantly reduces process steps and cycle time, the company says. Five-axis capability also enables using shorter tools to achieve quality surface finish and high precision at higher feed rates. The machine reportedly achieved 2.32um (measured value) of circularity in a tilted cone machining test. The machine is also designed for accessibilty between spindle and workpiece, and operator and machining point.
Along with the new machine, M.R. Mold purchased hyperMill CAM software from Open Mind Technologies. Although many CAM systems offer five-axis support, this system focuses on "true" five-axis programming, says Nhut Nyugen, programming lead at M.R. Mold. According to the company, the CAM developers' deep knowledge of the Yasda's capabilities is an added bonus.
How moldmakers become equipment builders
By Clare Goldsberry
Published: August 7th, 2015
Moldmakers are more than just moldmakers. Most of them can do a lot more than follow the dimensions on a CAD file or stand at a CNC machine and watch chips fly. Moldmakers are innovative and creative, and most can come up with solutions that are way outside the box when it comes to making molds. Many even go beyond making molds and become equipment designers and manufacturers.
|A servo rotary platen and servo portable injection unit|
from Universal Multishot Systems, the MGS line of multiple-
component specialty equipment, is hard at work in this ISO
Class 8 cleanroom. MGS converted a standard injection
molding machine into a multi-shot manufacturing cell for
the production of a two-component part for a drug-
MGS Mfg. Group (Germantown, WI), through its tooling division, Moldmakers Inc., has long been known for the molds it makes that include multi-cavity, high-volume precision molds for a variety of markets. John Hahn, Vice President of Engineering for MGS, related how the company got into the equipment side (multi-shot machinery and automation systems), which today represents approximately 10% of the company's business. "Customer demand pushed us. First we were moldmakers and we built high-end molds for complex parts," said Hahn. "Then customers wanted us to build equipment for their molding operations. We don't say no, so we began building equipment for customers when they asked. Obviously we had to come up with more resources from time to time to accommodate these requests."
The business expanded when customers needed sampling for the two-shot tools that MGS built, so in 2000 the company designed and built rotary platens, along with a portable injection unit for internal use. "Then the customers came along and asked, ‘where can we buy this?' " said Hahn. "Everybody loved the portable injection unit and it was quicker than buying a two-shot custom machine. We could deliver it in half the time it took for them to get a custom press, it's flexible, and the molder is not locked into a dedicated two-shot machine. It's also modular, plug and play."
The LSR (liquid silicone rubber) injection unit came next. "It's a small market but we had a clean slate with respect to what we could do, so we have a different technology," Hahn explained. "Today we make 600-ton molding machines, 200-ton vertical clamp machines, and four-shot injection machines. The Automation Group designs, builds and validates automation systems in a standalone facility near the main plant. It's one of those things where customers say, ‘can you do this?' We can't say no, so we build it. We're looking at combining the automation business and the equipment business into a 60,000-square-foot facility this year."
Today, MGS has facilities in Ireland, New York, Illinois, China and Mexico, in addition to its Wisconsin operations. The company has moved beyond moldmaking to develop the equipment that processors need to achieve efficiencies, produce high-quality parts and reduce the cost of manufacturing.
Wade Clark, President of Electroform Co., a mold manufacturer in Rockford, IL, began building rotary tables several years ago. While it's a mature market, Clark said that it was "something we needed to do, as it complements the rest of our product offerings." Clark builds cube (rotating) mold systems and believes that the rotary tables his company developed and builds are more robust and have higher precision than competing rotary tables.
"It's a limited market because of the cost," he commented. "It's not an inexpensive proposition to make these tables; however, our customers who bought them are very happy with them."
|Stuffer box for liquid silicone rubber processing is designed by|
M.R. Mold & Engineering.
Rick Finnie, President of M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. in Brea, CA, said he didn't actually decide to get into building equipment for processing liquid silicone rubber (LSR). "It evolved because we wanted to make ourselves more efficient," Finnie commented. "The development of the cold runner system came about because we were purchasing systems to use with our molds. Our customers began commenting on how they wished we could make some significant improvements in the systems. We listened to our customers and designed and developed our own cold runner system, along with a valve gate controller. At the time, molding machines rarely had that capability."
Finnie also developed a pneumatic stuffer box, which evolved because it was costing the company far too much time and money when sampling each mold. "We had to tear down the entire pumping unit for the next material," he explained. "Putting our heads together, we came up with a way to bypass the pumping unit and make our lives so much easier."
Customer feedback on his products helps Finnie make improvements on the company's original designs. "Because of customer feedback, we have improved on our original designs," he said. "For example, a single-drop cold runner for prototyping and a high-volume stuffer box were both the result of customer input."
M.R. Mold & Engineering continues to respond to industry requirements and looks for ways to become more competitive with the overseas market, including designing and building automation equipment. "Automation has become very important," he said. "Our robotics and end-of-arm tooling are designed and built for each individual project to help our customers be more competitive."
Today, 80% of the LSR molds that Finnie's company builds have a cold runner system and robotics to enable them to be fully automatic. Every LSR mold has vacuum seals, except where geometry prohibits.
Finnie added that designing, developing and building equipment provides his customers with greater value-added solutions to the challenges they face. "It makes us a complete systems provider and gives us control over both the design and cost of these LSR mold systems," he said.
Plastics Technology Blog on Scientific Molding with John Bozzelli
Seminar: Get Past Tweaking to a Scientific Molding Process 21. July 2015
John Bozzelli, scientific molding guru and columnist at Plastics Technology
, will be the instructor for the "At-the-Press Process Development Seminar
," August 11-13, in Troy Mich. Promising to help molders "Get It Right the First Time for 24/7 Production," the seminar will concentrate on scientific molding based process optimization with at-the-press instruction.
Monitoring hydraulic and cavity pressure levels on the press, participants will define plastic variables to create a universal setup sheet, which will then allow the tool to be run on any press, accounting for barrel size, hydraulic or all-electric operation, and more.
Other topics to be addressed include:
- Why after PPAP, DOE's & Medical Validations are bad parts still made?
- Finding the tool/part/process problems before production begins.
- Having an optimized 24/7 process from the initial tool trials.
- Having the ability to replicate the tool trial parts on another machine.
(Photo taken at M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp., Brea, Calif.)