Collaboration takes many forms, but one of the most powerful is when companies work together to educate others. This is something that I’ve seen quite often throughout my years covering the moldmaking industry. Most recently, for example, is a joint effort between ROI Industries and Injection Molding Solutions to develop a traveling conference giving molders and moldmakers a new understanding of the events that occur in and along the melt delivery system, such as watt-to-mass ratio, time to reach setpoint, wattage distribution, end loss, heat sink and point of temperature control, all of which impact the ability to achieve an optimized process via scientific molding principles. Then there’s MoldTrax and the AIM Institute who joined forces on a workshop to explore strategies to optimize mold performance, maintain efficiency, maximize part quality and minimize machine downtime. And, last but not least, Progressive Components and Incoe came together to produce a tech day to share the importance of monitoring molds to benchmark key performance indicators to improve overall company performance. So, you might be thinking, why this focus only on collaboration within the plastics side of moldmaking? Well, I have one word for you NPE!
With this triennial event only three months away, I have plastics on the brain, which also calls to mind the variety of collaborations set to occur on the NPE show floor among moldmakers, molders and equipment manufacturers. Not only will these collaborations market each company’s wares and capabilities, they will educate attendees on new processes, strategies and technologies. For example, Mold Craft of Willernie, Minnesota, worked with Wittmann Battenfeld to organize a demonstration of the technology behind ±0.0001-inch precision-tolerance micro molding of POK parts weighing only 0.007 grams. Mold Craft will be molding a 100µm filter screen, using a two-cavity, three-plate micro mold with one “A” side and 2 “B” sides, featuring 0.004” x 0.004” shut offs and 0.002” radii on a MicroPower 15t precision press with a rotary platen, end of arm tooling and a robot with camera.
M.R. Mold & Engineering of Brea, California,has multiple partnerships resulting in three scheduled collaborative demonstrations, including a four-cavity in-mold slitting duckbill mold running in Krauss Maffei's KM 51-55PX silicone molding machine. ShinEtsu Silicones will provide its KEG2000-50 material and a Graco F4-5 pumping unit will make this a fully automated cell. M.R. Mold will also run a four-cavity magnifying glass tool in Toyo's Si110-6 horizontal silicone molding machine. The parts will be produced with ShinEtsu's X-34-1972-3 optically clear silicone using a Yushin FRA-05155S-17-8.5 robot and a F4-5 pumping unit supplied by Graco to provide a fully automated process. To top it off, M.R. will run an optically clear two-cavity mold in Milacron's Roboshot Alpha molding machine using Zeiger Industries' LSR plug-n-play conversion kit. Elmet's new top 5000P pumping unit, R.D. Abbott's optically clear silicone and Yushin's YC-70S-14-8 robot complete this partnership for a completely automated process.