What's new
What's new

Starting a Tool and Die Machine shop...kind of

Gary E

Diamond
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Location
Houston, TX
Hey everyone, I own a plastic injection molding company. As time has been going by, I'm starting to learn that sending molds and tooling out to the T&D shop is killing us, time and money wise. Most of our jobs that need work are always on time crunches, which doesn't help when you send them out and it takes 2 weeks to get them back for simple repairs.

I was looking for a list of things that we should pickup so we can actually do (almost) complete mold fixes or maintenance.

I am looking into making molds down the line

Also, my machine shop is also used a lot for molding machine maintenance, so I'm not exactly buying this only to be used for molds, I will be using this for anything that would need machined.

Thanks

You sound exactly like a fellow I know.... He solved the problem with ONE PHONE CALL....
He bought the Mold Shop that built most of his tooling from the retiring owner....

Now HE OWNED both the molding co and the co that builds the tooling.... worked well for him.
 

ErnieD

Cast Iron
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Location
Toledo, Ohio
I was going to post about the equipment needed but I see that it has been covered pretty well. I would like to say that plastic injection mold making is in a class by itself. You can be a topnotch toolmaker but you will pale in comparison to a topnotch mold maker. So you will not be able to put just anyone on the mold work and expect it to get it done correctly and quickly.

Ernie
 

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi All:
One of the things that strikes me in these kinds of threads is the immense amount of experience and talent that's contained in the minds of so many.
This place is a great asset for sure.
There's a small danger though, in information overload and advice overload, and I realize I'm as guilty of it as anyone else.

By the time we've all put in our two cents' worth, we've completely taken over the OP's budget and we're kitting out a full-on, state of the art toolroom that would be the envy of many a toolbreaker.

I think it's worth commenting that an awful lot can already be done with pretty basic equipment, and a bit of ingenuity.
Some things you must have of course, to even be in the game; it's hard to imagine making a decent hole without a drill, but that drill can morph awfully fast into a 500 buck coolant through exotically coated custom tool attached to a $350,000.00 HMC when I'm spending someone else's money in my mind.
I think it's worthwhile to point that out to the OP.

Now, I happen to have a big hard-on for micro welding; so please remember mtparker18, that to at least some extent, my advice reflects my bias, but I do try to describe my experience, as do all of the others who've posted here.

Also, there's no reason you cannot stage your investment over time, taking on what your equipment and skill level allow while growing for the future.
So pick your domain when you're starting out; you can never have it all anyway, so you have to use your judgement about what you propose to equip yourself to tackle, and remember that some purchases will imply others that you need to make, in order to get anything out of the first one.

A good example is sinker EDM; as others have remarked, it's a great tool to have.
But if you have no means to make an electrode, you have no means to use the EDM to anywhere close to its potential; so if the EDM also means a VMC and a lathe and a grinder and a vacuum system and expensive graphite or Telco your decision to take on the EDM purchase means much more than you may have appreciated when you bought it.
Knowing all that, you might elect to farm that work out until you can justify a machine of your own together with all its support gear, or you may have grown your shop to the point that you already have much of what you need.

Don't let that discourage you; you can do much to solve your mold maintenance problems without blowing the bank account, and you can stage it as seems justified to you.
The mix of work will point out the pinch points quite quickly, especially if you have a mentor peeking over your shoulder and pointing out easier and better ways to confront any particular problem.
Find yourself a retired moldmaker who wants to come in a couple of days a week and earn some beer money while teaching you.
Treat him well, enjoy the time learning from him, and stride forward with enthusiasm!!
Also when it comes time to take on something that you know is way out of your league, either for equipment or know how, support your local toolroom!
There are many talented guys out there who would love to do your more advanced projects for you and will serve you well.
Treat them decently too, and you will have the best of all things.
Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining
 

mtparker18

Plastic
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Location
Pittsburgh
Ok I convinced, I don't want to be in the mold and die business, think I'll have a local shop build mine when the time comes.

By the way a local guy makes a business of retrofitting Acura Mills with CNC controls ball screws and motors. Great Guy to know. Shop In Flagstaff AZ, pm me if your interested in his contact information.

Tim

It's really coming down to if I want to spend the money on machinery and/or a person to do some of the tasks that I don't know/can't do. I can see pro's and con's to what I'm trying to accomplish. We'll have to see how it unfolds in my future.

Yes, I'm interested in getting some info. Is he a company or just a person who does it on the side or what?


Most any mold repair will benefit from use of a ram (sinker) edm. Manual is fine for repair work. Hold off on the vmc until you have the skills to build new molds. Since you have good welding support available hold off on the welder. It takes more than a little time to learn how, and you will be pretty well covered up learning the machining part.

That's what I'm thinking. I don't want to shell out money for a VMC, but I would like something as an entry into CNC, which is why I was leaning towards a conversion. And believe me, I know. I hate welding, I'd rather machine than weld on any day.



I'm a poor writer, but could write a book on mold repair that would be pages and pages long. As usual, Marcus has summed it all up in a couple well written posts. Very good advice from him, and everyone else. If I had to list the most important capabilities I have to repair molds, number one wouldn't be any machine, but rather the 33 years experience I have in fixing broken/damaged stuff. Would there be any retired ex-moldmaker near you that you could hire part time to come in and help you do repairs? If you had someone experienced to learn from and pick their brain, I think you would be light years ahead of learning as you go.

The next most important capability I have is the good working relationship I have with both a local micro welder and a shop that does wire EDM work. Both of these guys also have spent their lives in mold shops, and do very good work. I have a Miller tig welder, and do easy welding jobs myself, but usually I have the micro welder guy do my core/cavity welding as he does such a good job that it cuts down the amount of work I have to do removing the weld. He will do rush jobs while I wait, otherwise it's next day service. The wire guy can open up ejector and core pin holes quickly and accurately for me. Sometimes overnight if I'm in a bind, sometimes a week or two if I'm not in a hurry and he is busy. If I'm not in a rush, I tell both these guys that, so they can fit my work into their schedules as it works for them. Telling everyone your work is a "rush" job that you need overnight, and then not putting the mold back in the press for a couple weeks is a sure way to burn them out on doing your work. I also pay both of these guys the day I get their bills.

My most used machine is a manual surface grinder. I have a Harig 6-12 and a Harig 6-18. I have digital readouts on both. Mitsui makes very good grinders too. A good used Harig grinder might only cost you $2000. Eventually, to properly tool up a grinder for doing mold repair will cost as much as $10,000-$20,000, depending on how good you are at Ebay and auctions. I have Harig #1 and #2 spin heads, with v-blocks, faceplates, and round Suburban magnetic chucks for both. I also have most everything found in the Hermann Schmidt catalog. Magnetic sine chuck, squaring chuck, large grinding vises, small grinding vises, radius and angle dresser, narrow wheel dresser, the list goes on and on. Most of this can be acquired as you need it, or as a deal comes up. It may seem odd that the machine costs so much less than the tooling, but I see it as the machine (surface grinder) simply spins the grinding wheel and moves the table. The tooling does all the trick stuff, ie: the spinning and holding of the workpiece, and the dressing of angles and radiuses and the wheels. I probably have at least 50 grinding wheels of different sizes, grits, and bonds. Those can also be bought over time. Don't buy used wheels, you don't know how they have been treated and stored. A cracked grinding wheel can explode at speed. You will need to make or buy a fixture for grinding pins to length.

My mills and lathe, etc. are all manual stuff. I do have a CAD program, but only to receive customer files and for myself to draw on. I haven't sent a program to a machine in 16 years. If you get into building new molds, you will want CNC milling capabilities, but for repairs, not so much. Most of what I do is handled by wire EDM, micro-welding (laser would maybe be even better), grinding, polishing, and some light milling. I stock lots of ejector pins (standard sizes, +.005, and even by 64ths and 32nds) to fit to worn holes that are wired oversize, core pins from about .010 to .500 dia., brass water fittings and pipes, and lots of tool steel in grades and sizes that I use.

My largest customer requires me to use all PCS ejector pins. I order most other components from Progressive or DME. McMaster-Carr can cover almost all hardware needs as far as shoulder bolts, springs, etc..

Good post, thanks. I'm probably going to see if I can find someone who wants to make some side money to come out on weekends or nights and teaching me more or showing me the tricks and tips. That's probably the most valuable thing I could "buy".

Usually my guys are good on turn around, except my tool shop. The only reason I keep going back to them is the price, since we've been doing business for awhile. I usually pay my welding and CNC shop (things that I can't machine here) in cash when I pickup my item. Works out pretty good and they do a good job usually turning around in a day or by the next.

The grinder is the easy part, the accessories is the pain. I don't plan on picking up a bunch of stuff from the get-go. I plan on getting a grinder, dresser, balancer, dresser, 1 or two wheels, and some sort of work holding; Probably a magnetic chuck. I don't plan on buying used wheels, for the price, I'm better off just buying new ones.

For repairs manual will work, and I know that. But I'd like to have some sort of CNC for learning and possibly making prototype MUDS. Our biggest item is a flat washer (believe it or not), of which we make different sizes. It would be nice when a customer calls for a different size, to be able to machine out a prototype mold, and have samples for them in a few days. We have a bunch of ejector pins, but our surplus has dropped because I haven't been buying as many pins lately. I'm actually trying to work on a system where I can do inventory of my pins and get notifications when I get low. I know MSC has a system that does that for cutting tools, I would like something like that for pins, reamers, and springs...

Why all PCS? Is DME not good enough for them? Ha Ha. But yeah, I use McMaster for almost everything, even pins sometimes.

Which bares my next question, what is really the difference between reaming ejector pins holes, vs using a WEDM? I usually ream out to step up my pins. But I hear a lot about WEDMing the holes.

-Sorry I didn't make that clear enough. I don't think that you need a VMC right now given that you have many other purchases in mind. The large outlay of cash for a VMC will not produce enough of a return on your money to make it worthwhile at this point. If/when you need one down the road you'll know when it's time. The surface grinder is your first purchase, it's less money (than a VMC) and an easier decision in the used market. Do you have an employee that knows his way around one? There's only really the accuracy of the ways and the condition of the spindle to look for when shopping the used market. If you don't know what a good ground finish looks like then you won't know if a spindle is shot and needs replacement. Accuracy of the ways is another matter and a search on this board should produce a defined method for testing a purchase candidate. As for which one, you'll want one that can be used with coolant for the larger work unless you want to purchase a larger wet grinder and a smaller dry-only grinder. Wet grinders don't always have to be large, there are at least a few in the smaller 6-12 size that are wet/dry grinders (Mitsui for one). At this point, for you, I'd probably avoid getting an automatic unless you have many repairs that can justify the unattended grinding process. A manual will suit your needs and be much lower cost. When it's time to spring for the automatic it's because you can't afford to have someone just stand there while grinding. The tooling (work holding in this case) can easily run into thousands, cost rises with level of precision like all other things in machining. Like others have stated a good spin indexer, grinding vise, precision angle plate, sine plate, and likely a form dresser will be a minimum for the tooling you'll need for repair. These alone can cost more than the surface grinder so shop wisely according to your needs and the condition of the tooling. Buying used tooling/equipment can mean you got a great deal or it can mean you bought the worn out crap that somebody else didn't want any longer. I would advise you to estimate your budget for this endeavor and then start examining prices of everything on the list. This will clarify what you can do and what will have to wait. In the meantime, inform yourself as much as possible before shopping as it can get expensive real fast.

I get what you're saying. I'm starting to put a budget together in my head soon to figure out what I really want to spend, to even see if any of this is worth my time.



I worked for a multi plant injection molder, EVCO, and all the plants were set up for mold repair. Marcus is dispensing good advice here. Talented mold maker, talented welder or a guy that can do both(highly unusual). Machines that should be in outstanding condition: CNC knee mill, surface grinder, lathe. Other equipment, air compressor, EDM, jib crane, heavy, FLAT, steel tables, lifting magnet, spin indexer, dividing head, blast cabinet, parts washer, ultrasonic polisher, inventory of ejector pins, sprue bushings, cartridge and band heaters, socket head cap screws, water line fittings and hose, assortment of raw tool steel, a good band saw, drill press and a heat treat oven.. I could go on for awhile. This is just to REPAIR molds but it will save you tons. Good luck

Another good list. Thanks!

Hi mtparker18:
I do a LOT of mold repair welding, so I know the business quite well by now.
The laser welder is the most important machine I have for repair, because most of what goes wrong with molds involves metal that's either been displaced from where it belongs and can't be pushed back (a bash on the parting line would be a good example), or it's been worn away (often by glass filled materials), or fractured away (a crunch with a short shot or mold timing mistake).

Before the days of laser welding, a very common way to tackle these problems was to drill a hole at the site of a localized defect, pound in a plug with Loctite on it, and then re-shape the protruding bits of the plug to restore the defect.
It was crude as hell, time consuming and not always successful.
If the plug was not bottomed out perfectly in the hole, the plug would sometimes extrude from entrapped air expansion when the mold got hot.
If the fit wasn't perfect, you could see the joint line on the plastic part.
If the trimming was too enthusiastic, the cavity could be instantly wrecked beyond redemption.
There were lots of places it couldn't be done, like around ejector pins or in close proximity to cooling lines.

Another common attempt at repair was to peen up a squash to try to drive the metal back where it came from.
This was also a hit or miss proposition with sometimes the unfortunate consequence of making the problem worse rather than better, and it always made the mold look like a pig's breakfast from all the peen marks around the defect.

A third common tactic was milling out a pocket and bolting in a patch, with problems and limitations similar to the plug method.

A fourth tactic was to regrind and refit the mold by milling or grinding away worn parting surfaces, and then shimming the inserts back up into position and re fitting ejector pins or grinding the buttons under the ejector plate or whatever was needed to get the revised parting surfaces to shut off properly again and get the mold to close properly with the pins at the proper length.
As you can imagine it's a helluva lot of work and costs a fortune.

A fifth tactic was to get the local TIG genius to try to lay a tiny bead into the defect without wiping out other features and warping the mold all to hell from the heat.
There were a half dozen guys around in North America who were really good at it, and they were GODS!!

An awful lot of that kind of repair is rendered obsolete with good welding repair technique using a laser welder.
If you care to, you can have a look at some mold repair work on my website if you click on this link:
Implant Mechanix ? Design & Innovation » Laser Micro Welding
Click on the photos to enlarge them.

So the welder is a really basic piece of equipment for mold maintenance and is well worth its cost if you have lots of this kind of work to do.
They're expensive when new (about 40 grand for an entry level German machine); I bought mine on Fleabay for 11 thousand and put another 5 thousand into it to get it fixed.
It's so very worthwhile, but it's hard to justify unless you do a fair bit of it.
I bought mine because it was an irresistable toy for me, but it's paid off rather well, mostly because there are not many around so it sets my shop apart from my competitors.
If your weld shop is really good, and can do laser and Micro TIG, you're all set, but they have to be mold welders, not just good TIG welders with conventional Lincolns and Millers in the shop.

The other relevant point is that when I've done a repair, the overwhelmingly most common other machine tool I bring to the repair is the surface grinder.
I might mill 5% of my welds, EDM 1% of my welds and surface grind 90% of the welds that don't just get stoned, filed, or hand ground with the pencil grinder under the microscope to bring them back into tolerance.
Properly placed, the majority of welds that don't result from a really big crash are so tiny, they don't need much work to dress them down.
I can easily put a weld onto a parting edge that sticks up only a couple of thou; a good touch with a fine India stone and I'm back in business in a couple of minutes.
So if your primary aim is to keep your molds running and the parts that come out of them looking like they were made in a civilized country, a good laser welder, whether yours, or your friendly mold welding shops will be the most useful asset for most of your work.
Cheers

Marcus
Implant Mechanix – Design & Innovation - home
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining


Marcus, I checked your website, good stuff. Yes, those top examples seem very scary when you think about it. I think my best bet is to have whatever needs welded, sent out to someone who has done it long enough to have me not worry about doing it myself.

Dumb question, do you feel its better to basically start a full mold from scratch? or to buy a premade mold base a cut cavities from there? Only asking because I noticed you make your own bases.
 

mtparker18

Plastic
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Location
Pittsburgh
You sound exactly like a fellow I know.... He solved the problem with ONE PHONE CALL....
He bought the Mold Shop that built most of his tooling from the retiring owner....

Now HE OWNED both the molding co and the co that builds the tooling.... worked well for him.

I really had thought about that. I'd love to be able to do that...Maybe it's time to start playing the lottery again.

I was going to post about the equipment needed but I see that it has been covered pretty well. I would like to say that plastic injection mold making is in a class by itself. You can be a topnotch toolmaker but you will pale in comparison to a topnotch mold maker. So you will not be able to put just anyone on the mold work and expect it to get it done correctly and quickly.

Ernie

Yep, damn good lists. and if I do look for anyone, I'm specifying MOLD maker, not tool maker. There's a big difference. haha



Hi All:
One of the things that strikes me in these kinds of threads is the immense amount of experience and talent that's contained in the minds of so many.
This place is a great asset for sure.
There's a small danger though, in information overload and advice overload, and I realize I'm as guilty of it as anyone else.

By the time we've all put in our two cents' worth, we've completely taken over the OP's budget and we're kitting out a full-on, state of the art toolroom that would be the envy of many a toolbreaker.

I think it's worth commenting that an awful lot can already be done with pretty basic equipment, and a bit of ingenuity.
Some things you must have of course, to even be in the game; it's hard to imagine making a decent hole without a drill, but that drill can morph awfully fast into a 500 buck coolant through exotically coated custom tool attached to a $350,000.00 HMC when I'm spending someone else's money in my mind.
I think it's worthwhile to point that out to the OP.

Now, I happen to have a big hard-on for micro welding; so please remember mtparker18, that to at least some extent, my advice reflects my bias, but I do try to describe my experience, as do all of the others who've posted here.

Also, there's no reason you cannot stage your investment over time, taking on what your equipment and skill level allow while growing for the future.
So pick your domain when you're starting out; you can never have it all anyway, so you have to use your judgement about what you propose to equip yourself to tackle, and remember that some purchases will imply others that you need to make, in order to get anything out of the first one.

A good example is sinker EDM; as others have remarked, it's a great tool to have.
But if you have no means to make an electrode, you have no means to use the EDM to anywhere close to its potential; so if the EDM also means a VMC and a lathe and a grinder and a vacuum system and expensive graphite or Telco your decision to take on the EDM purchase means much more than you may have appreciated when you bought it.
Knowing all that, you might elect to farm that work out until you can justify a machine of your own together with all its support gear, or you may have grown your shop to the point that you already have much of what you need.

Don't let that discourage you; you can do much to solve your mold maintenance problems without blowing the bank account, and you can stage it as seems justified to you.
The mix of work will point out the pinch points quite quickly, especially if you have a mentor peeking over your shoulder and pointing out easier and better ways to confront any particular problem.
Find yourself a retired moldmaker who wants to come in a couple of days a week and earn some beer money while teaching you.
Treat him well, enjoy the time learning from him, and stride forward with enthusiasm!!
Also when it comes time to take on something that you know is way out of your league, either for equipment or know how, support your local toolroom!
There are many talented guys out there who would love to do your more advanced projects for you and will serve you well.
Treat them decently too, and you will have the best of all things.
Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining



You hit the nail on the head with this post. I'm not looking to go out on Monday and call up some suppliers and dump $500k into my mold building/repair "idea". This is something I plan to build over the next year or two, buying machinery and supporting "stuff" as it's needed. I feel I have a good start, a mill, a lathe, bandsaw, drill press, air compressor, bench grinder. I can build off of that. I'm not saying I'll go and rebuild everything tomorrow morning. This is over time. Lets face it, when we started our company we could have tossed a coin and bought a brand new $125,000 machine, instead my father bought a $7,500 machine, put $5,000 into it and that machine made us successful and built our company from the ground up. Like I said, I'm not going out tomorrow and buying this stuff. I'll be watching auctions, classifieds, and such.
 

mtparker18

Plastic
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Location
Pittsburgh
Figured I would throw up a picture of what I'm working with. This is the space for my machine shop. Don't mind the mess, we just removed a drop ceiling and moved the machines. It's a work in progress. 20140216_145930.jpg

Now, I didn't want to do this, but I figured I'd run it by everyone. My tool shop has been "storing" their grinder here for close to 7 years. I've been debating on finding out what it needs, fixing it, and "borrowing" it. I know that's not the right thing to do, but hey, I don't even think they remember it's here. But I've posted a pic below. Can anyone tell me what it's missing just from quick glance? Also an idea of what something like this could go for? I'd honestly like to make him an offer and use this being I already have it and such. 20140216_150038.jpg
 

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi mtparker18:
I build my own mold bases for two reasons:
1) Sometimes I can't get exactly what I want from the store.
2) I've been unhappy with the quality of bought sets.

I don't see all that much difference in the price of a bought set and the price I can make it for myself, especially if I have to fix it first to make the mold plates square, regrind all the parting planes to make them flat, compensate for the sprue bushing that's off center etc etc.
I build only fairly small tools, so my time investment to build a set is pretty brief, and the protocol I use is pretty bulletproof, so my leader pins still line up after the cavities or pockets are cut, the pockets are the proper size depth and orientation relative to each other and on and on.
It just makes the rest of the build so much easier when the set is correct and I can rely on it to be accurate.
I also have much more design freedom; I can often build a smaller set and put better cooling into it simply by moving the leader pins, return pins and bolts around to clear other features and let me put my waterlines where I want to without drilling extra lines at odd angles and pissing around with angled pipe plugs and other crap.
That smaller set is more convenient to work on, it weighs less, it costs less in steel and it fits on my equipment without farting around.
I build lots of molds for example, where I can put the mold base plates into a standard Kurt vise, so now I don't have to spend time ripping the vise off the machine, dialling in the plates, setting up the clamps to clear the cutters etc etc.
Knowing how wide my vise will open motivates me to find a good way to build my mold bases that size or smaller; a flexibility I don't have with bought sets.
These are all small efficiency gains that add up substantially, and far outweigh the convenience of going to the mold base store for the kind of work I do.
That's it in a nutshell; I get the odd criticism for it, but it works well for me.
Cheers

Marcus
Implant Mechanix – Design & Innovation - home
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining
 

mtparker18

Plastic
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Location
Pittsburgh
Hi mtparker18:
I build my own mold bases for two reasons:
1) Sometimes I can't get exactly what I want from the store.
2) I've been unhappy with the quality of bought sets.

I don't see all that much difference in the price of a bought set and the price I can make it for myself, especially if I have to fix it first to make the mold plates square, regrind all the parting planes to make them flat, compensate for the sprue bushing that's off center etc etc.
I build only fairly small tools, so my time investment to build a set is pretty brief, and the protocol I use is pretty bulletproof, so my leader pins still line up after the cavities or pockets are cut, the pockets are the proper size depth and orientation relative to each other and on and on.
It just makes the rest of the build so much easier when the set is correct and I can rely on it to be accurate.
I also have much more design freedom; I can often build a smaller set and put better cooling into it simply by moving the leader pins, return pins and bolts around to clear other features and let me put my waterlines where I want to without drilling extra lines at odd angles and pissing around with angled pipe plugs and other crap.
That smaller set is more convenient to work on, it weighs less, it costs less in steel and it fits on my equipment without farting around.
I build lots of molds for example, where I can put the mold base plates into a standard Kurt vise, so now I don't have to spend time ripping the vise off the machine, dialling in the plates, setting up the clamps to clear the cutters etc etc.
Knowing how wide my vise will open motivates me to find a good way to build my mold bases that size or smaller; a flexibility I don't have with bought sets.
These are all small efficiency gains that add up substantially, and far outweigh the convenience of going to the mold base store for the kind of work I do.
That's it in a nutshell; I get the odd criticism for it, but it works well for me.
Cheers

Marcus
Implant Mechanix – Design & Innovation - home
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

So you're basically doing it because it's easier on you. You don't have to pay attention to where the factory put return pins, leader pins, and such. Makes sense. Build around the part, not the base.

I commend you for that. I don't see many shops going from scratch anymore.
 

Gary E

Diamond
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Location
Houston, TX
I really had thought about that. I'd love to be able to do that...Maybe it's time to start playing the lottery again.

Maybe you dont have to do that....

The way my friend described "the deal" to me, the seller retained ownership of the building and was ok with long term payout of the $$ they settled on as the cost of the biz.. And since the Mold biz was profitable, the payments to the seller were not much more than what an employee would cost and he didnt have to actually work..All this happened 40 ish yrs ago and I dont remember it all...

Point is.. that if the fellow making your molds now is willing to sell, a deal can be made that suits both of you.
 

Barry Weeks

Titanium
Joined
Jan 8, 2001
Location
Minnesota
Why all PCS? Is DME not good enough for them? Ha Ha. But yeah, I use McMaster for almost everything, even pins sometimes.

Which bares my next question, what is really the difference between reaming ejector pins holes, vs using a WEDM? I usually ream out to step up my pins. But I hear a lot about WEDMing the holes.

The molds I work on belong to a very large local manufacturing company. I just do as I'm told. It may be that someone's brother-in-law is the rep for PCS, but after using nothing but PCS ej. pins for 15 years or so, I really like them. They are consistently to size within .0002 or less. Most of the molds I work on run very abrasive materials, and have interchangeable cavity inserts. So when cav. set #1 is wore out and having problems flashing or something, we can swap to cav. set #2 and have time to repair set #1 properly. If you use different brands of ej. pins, all of a sudden the pins that fit in set #1 are too tight in set #2. So by using PCS ej. pins in all molds, we always have interchangeability of pins between cavity sets.

If I send a set of cavities to wire to have the pin holes oversized .005, I always send a pin with for them to fit the hole to. I always send a PCS pin, as I know that's what we'll be using. A DME or Progressive ejector pin would work just fine, they make very good products, but may run a few tenths larger or smaller than what we use. So I stock hundreds, no make that thousands, of PCS pins. No matter what brand you use, I would suggest sticking with it. Then you know when you replace a 1/4" pin with another 1/4" pin, that it will fit the same.

Speaking of pins, I'm a real stickler on pins and ejector systems. I will not let a mold leave here to go in the press unless I can move the ej. system freely. If the system won't move I tear the ej. housing off and figure out why. There's no reason to put a mold in the press and have an ejector pin seize up in 50 shots. That's just a waste of press time.

The cores and cavities on the molds I work on are mostly made of Vanadis 10 and may have the gate areas inserted with carbide. Due to the hardness, wire EDM is the best way to open up holes .005 or 1/64". The wire EDM will also leave a very nice finish in a straight hole, precisely on location, that can be accurately sized to a nice slip fit on the pin diameter. These holes usually will outlast a reamed hole before they start to bellmouth and flash. If you are dealing with P-20 or aluminum temporary molds that are soft, reaming the holes is fine. If you are running multiple cavity molds made from hardened steel, and want to get hundreds of thousands or even millions of parts out of them before the pins start flashing, then wiring the pin holes makes sense.

Mold maintenance will teach you that sometimes the cheapest way to fix a mold isn't necessarily the least expensive in the long run. Sometimes spending more time and money, and fixing something "right", allows you to run it longer, faster, and make better parts, thus becoming cheaper in the long run. Mold maintenance shouldn't be looked at as a necessary evil to be done as cheap and crude as possible, but rather as a chance to make your mold better, stronger, and faster.

I really hate to see a 4 cavity mold limping along for days on 3 cavities, as it's only at 75% of it's capability. This is usually done to avoid down time to fix the mold right. When I see that, I wonder if there was something I could've seen or done the last time I had that mold apart in order to prevent the situation. My goal, when I have a mold apart, is to look for and correct any possible problems that are developing. I take each mold totally apart and clean and inspect each part. I look for galling pins, flashing cavities, cracked cavities, water leaks, vents that are plugging up, worn leader pins and/or parting lines locks, etc.. When the mold is in the press running parts isn't the time to be fighting these issues. Presses are made to print money, oops, I mean, presses are made to make parts.

Your space will work nicely after it's cleaned up. Do you have a nice, large, solid, mold bench to tear molds apart on?

The grinder looks a little rough to me. Why has it been sitting for that many years? Problems?
 

Davis In SC

Diamond
Joined
Sep 14, 2005
Location
South Carolina USA
Barry's post brings up one of the most important facets of mold repair/maintenance: Spotting problems before they get bad is the key. That tiny water leak, or the start of galling on a pin or slide can be fixed in minutes or hours now, or left to run, and turn into weeks and thousands in damage later.

Some shops prefer to let a less-experienced worker tear down molds, but I think that is a mistake. I can diagnose a lot of incipient problems as I break down a mold, that would be missed if it was already taken apart.
 

mtparker18

Plastic
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Location
Pittsburgh
Maybe you dont have to do that....

The way my friend described "the deal" to me, the seller retained ownership of the building and was ok with long term payout of the $$ they settled on as the cost of the biz.. And since the Mold biz was profitable, the payments to the seller were not much more than what an employee would cost and he didnt have to actually work..All this happened 40 ish yrs ago and I dont remember it all...

Point is.. that if the fellow making your molds now is willing to sell, a deal can be made that suits both of you.

I get what you're saying. I will keep that thought. My accountant would kill me though, it really comes down to if they tool shop is making money or not.


The molds I work on belong to a very large local manufacturing company. I just do as I'm told. It may be that someone's brother-in-law is the rep for PCS, but after using nothing but PCS ej. pins for 15 years or so, I really like them. They are consistently to size within .0002 or less. Most of the molds I work on run very abrasive materials, and have interchangeable cavity inserts. So when cav. set #1 is wore out and having problems flashing or something, we can swap to cav. set #2 and have time to repair set #1 properly. If you use different brands of ej. pins, all of a sudden the pins that fit in set #1 are too tight in set #2. So by using PCS ej. pins in all molds, we always have interchangeability of pins between cavity sets.

If I send a set of cavities to wire to have the pin holes oversized .005, I always send a pin with for them to fit the hole to. I always send a PCS pin, as I know that's what we'll be using. A DME or Progressive ejector pin would work just fine, they make very good products, but may run a few tenths larger or smaller than what we use. So I stock hundreds, no make that thousands, of PCS pins. No matter what brand you use, I would suggest sticking with it. Then you know when you replace a 1/4" pin with another 1/4" pin, that it will fit the same.

Speaking of pins, I'm a real stickler on pins and ejector systems. I will not let a mold leave here to go in the press unless I can move the ej. system freely. If the system won't move I tear the ej. housing off and figure out why. There's no reason to put a mold in the press and have an ejector pin seize up in 50 shots. That's just a waste of press time.

The cores and cavities on the molds I work on are mostly made of Vanadis 10 and may have the gate areas inserted with carbide. Due to the hardness, wire EDM is the best way to open up holes .005 or 1/64". The wire EDM will also leave a very nice finish in a straight hole, precisely on location, that can be accurately sized to a nice slip fit on the pin diameter. These holes usually will outlast a reamed hole before they start to bellmouth and flash. If you are dealing with P-20 or aluminum temporary molds that are soft, reaming the holes is fine. If you are running multiple cavity molds made from hardened steel, and want to get hundreds of thousands or even millions of parts out of them before the pins start flashing, then wiring the pin holes makes sense.

Mold maintenance will teach you that sometimes the cheapest way to fix a mold isn't necessarily the least expensive in the long run. Sometimes spending more time and money, and fixing something "right", allows you to run it longer, faster, and make better parts, thus becoming cheaper in the long run. Mold maintenance shouldn't be looked at as a necessary evil to be done as cheap and crude as possible, but rather as a chance to make your mold better, stronger, and faster.

I really hate to see a 4 cavity mold limping along for days on 3 cavities, as it's only at 75% of it's capability. This is usually done to avoid down time to fix the mold right. When I see that, I wonder if there was something I could've seen or done the last time I had that mold apart in order to prevent the situation. My goal, when I have a mold apart, is to look for and correct any possible problems that are developing. I take each mold totally apart and clean and inspect each part. I look for galling pins, flashing cavities, cracked cavities, water leaks, vents that are plugging up, worn leader pins and/or parting lines locks, etc.. When the mold is in the press running parts isn't the time to be fighting these issues. Presses are made to print money, oops, I mean, presses are made to make parts.

Your space will work nicely after it's cleaned up. Do you have a nice, large, solid, mold bench to tear molds apart on?

The grinder looks a little rough to me. Why has it been sitting for that many years? Problems?

I have a steel table out in the shop area for mold tear downs. I'd say it's 3' x 8', plenty enough for what I need of it.

The grinder (in person) looks like it just needs cleaned down a good bit. It was sitting next to my mill so it's got chips and cutting fluid all over it. I'm not sure why the decided to move it, I think they needed space for a bigger one. I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask.

Everything you've said makes sense. I should stick with all PCS, they have good quality stuff and great service, not sure about Progressive as I've never bought from them.

The WEDM makes sense. I believe all of my molds are P-20. Could be wrong. I know the main ones I run are. I have a 16 cavity (with 2 pins per cavity) that I reamed all of the pins on a few years ago. It lasted about 1,000 shots before I had 2 pins bind up and break. Not fun stuff. I probably should have had it sent out and WEDM'd, but it was a Sunday night that I had a machine opening up and I spent nearly 15-18 hours reaming the holes, cutting the pins down and using a bench grinder to get them to the length they needed to be...It wasn't a fun night.

Your second to last paragraph talks about one of my other problems. Being I do all of the work, mold changes, set-ups, maintenance, I barely have time to maintain the molds when they're done with production. It would be nice to have someone to take over one of my jobs so I can pull the molds apart and look over everything before it goes back on the shelf or back in production. Preventative mold maintenance is something we've lost in the last few years. I'd be saving myself a hell of a lot of money to catch something before it breaks or fix it while it's out. I never actually looked at it from that angle. Gotta love owning a business and wearing multiple hats.
 

Jeremy K

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 17, 2007
Location
new york
Interesting that you guys are wiring your ejector pin holes . How much clearance are you guys using that are having pins seize ?
 

Barry Weeks

Titanium
Joined
Jan 8, 2001
Location
Minnesota
Interesting that you guys are wiring your ejector pin holes . How much clearance are you guys using that are having pins seize ?

I like having pin holes wired to a slip fit. Not sure how much that would be in tenths, but probably .0003. No more than .0005. .001 would be too loose to me. Marcus can probably tell us how many tenths is a nice slip fit on an ejector pin.

I rarely see seized pins stemming from the hole being too tight from the start, at least with wired holes. Typically, I see more problems with worn holes that have too much clearance, and pin holes that are dirty. I work on molds that run abrasive materials (imagine injecting fine sand in a mold along with plastic), so too much clearance will allow grit to get between the pin and hole, and work back and forth as the pin goes up and down. Crud in the pin hole or worse yet, in the clearance behind the hole, will easily mess up a pin. Anytime I have a cavity out, I try to clean the pin holes (including the clearance) with a brass wire brush made for cleaning holes, or a pipe cleaner on smaller holes. Old grease can hold grit that can easily get caught up in the pin. Sometimes reamed holes will have a cobby finish that can start galling too. A properly wired hole (straight, smooth, and nice fit) will usually be trouble free if kept clean.

One thing I do, is to keep a notebook on my toolbox that is basically a log or a diary of the molds I work on. My customer that runs the molds keeps good records, but I keep my own that pertain specifically to things I notice on each mold. I'll write the date, mold number, cavity set number, how many shots on the counter, what I did to the mold, and things I noticed, each time I work on a mold. You can then sometimes see patterns developing. For instance if on 5/20/13 on mold #123 you replaced the 1/8" ejector pin on the top corner of cavity #4 due to galling, and then on 7/2/13 you are replacing the exact same pin for the same reason, you need to look into things better. Maybe the pin was drilled and c'bored off location in the ejector plate, and is running at an angle? Or maybe the last time you fixed the mold the hole was boogered up and you never really cleaned the hole up right? There's a reason for everything.

My records have helped me many times and only take a couple minutes to record when I work on a mold. For example, I had a cavity once that I would always notice looked like it had a water leak near the 5 out water fitting (or which ever fitting it was, we always number all of them). I would always test it with air pressure, not see a problem, replace the fitting, and send it out. After a few times of seeing what looked like this minor water leak around the same area, I dug into it deeper. I put air pressure to it again. No leak. I heated up the cavity block to maybe 250* and tried again. There it was, a small crack that would open up a little when warm. Very minor. The steel this cavity was made of is hard to weld, as it's so brittle that cracks just seem to keep appearing nearby the weld. We kept running the mold, but ended up making a replacement cavity block that got finished about the same time the cracked one split wide open in the press. We were all set to just swap them out and keep running, avoiding weeks of down time. That's an example of good maintenance. Sometimes things don't go that good.

Everything you've said makes sense. I should stick with all PCS, they have good quality stuff and great service, not sure about Progressive as I've never bought from them.

Progressive Components has been wonderful to me right from day 1. One of the first mold repair jobs I ever did on my own in about 1999, I had to replace some Progressive parting line locks. The gold and black ones that cost $600 for a set of (4) that you can hold in one hand. I needed them overnight and didn't have an account with Progressive. Could pay by credit card or whatever, but really needed to set up an account. I called and explained the situation to a sales guy. He took down my address and what I needed. I could hear him pounding away on his keyboard, and then said: "OK, your order is on it's way and should be to you in the morning. Now let's fill out a credit app. for you so we can bill you for this." So my first ever order from Progressive was sent out to me overnight before they ever worried about how to get paid from me. That impressed me, and I have ordered quite a bit from them ever since.
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
Why not do what AMP (from Harrisburg, Pa) did ?

Amp, the connector people, used to source allot if not all of
their molds from a bunch of shops in and around Erie, Pa
extending down to Meadville as well.

They finally bought out one of the shops they liked
(the name escapes me now) and they are now "A division of AMP".

AMP get's their stuff done first, (by profesionals that they had tested
by sending prior work to them)
the shop still keeps it's customer
base, profit's go to AMP.
 

HiNi

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Location
Southeast, USA
There is a world of difference in using a down the road welder and using a micro-weld shop.

These type shops are specialist in what they do, small precision welding.
It is tough to impossible for a weld shop to switch gears from welding up a rear axel to concentrating on repairing a .062" ejector pin hole.

A heads up if you do use a micro-welder service, they may refuse to weld over a previous weld from another shop.
 








 
Top