O C TO B E R 2 01 3
M a i n t e n a n c e & R e pa i R
Put a Plan Together for Maintenance, Cleaning and Repair
counting is one thing. monitoring is another. evolved visibility When a tooling program begins, intended maintenance points and cycle times are determined. However, actual performance may deviate over the life of the mold. Progressive’s new CVe Monitor provides: • Maintenance activity tracking to reduce unscheduled mold stoppages • Cycle time monitoring to verify consistent part quality and cost • Dimensional compatibility with Progressive’s mechanical CounterView More than viewing counts on a mold, a tool’s effciency and activity can be accessed from across town or around the world. Call 1-800-269-6653 to discuss how your production goals can now remain in sight.
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M a i n t e n a n c e & R e pa i R
08 02 From the Editors
Maximizing Mold Uptime
Richard G. Kline, Jr. [email protected]
F E AT U R E S
Claude J. Mas [email protected]
04 Efcient Maintenance Requires a
Calculated Plan Advancing from a mold repair culture to a mold maintenance culture can only be fully supported with a companywide understanding of what the real costs are and what the real potential savings can be. By Steve Johnson
08 Mold Cleaning Done Right Takes a
Systematic Approach Mold cleaning is just one part of a systematic and comprehensive approach to mold maintenance. Here’s one moldmaker’s strategy for injection mold cleaning and an explanation of where and why diferent techniques are employed. By John Berg
Working Your Way through the Welding Options There are plenty of choices in welding technologies for mold repair. Here, a toolroom supervisor and his team share some at-the-bench knowledge of them to help you decide which one’s right for you. By James Bourne
Christina Fuges [email protected]
James J. Callari [email protected]
Matthew H. Naitove [email protected]
Sherry L. Baranek [email protected]
William Caldwell [email protected]
Laurie Dugan [email protected]
About the cover:
Cover photo courtesy of ToolingDocs. As molding technology advances, so should one’s maintenance and repair training techniques. Attendees at the ToolingDocs Maintenance Center learn to create proactive tasks and standardized corrective actions to reduce or eliminate mold and part defects. This is the only logical path to making continuous improvements in mold performance and shop efficiency. See related feature on page 4. October 2013 — 1
FROM tHe eDitORS
Maximizing Mold Uptime Train, Troubleshoot, Clean, Repair to Keep Your Molds Running
“A robust mold is more than just a tool that allows a molder to make plastic parts; it is a package that enables a manufacturer to support a supply chain that fulflls customer demands with minimal downtime and maintenance costs.” This statement [from James bourne, tool repair supervisor and industry supporter] clearly serves as the driver behind this month’s Mold Maintenance & Repair Supplement—a collaborative efort between MoldMaking Technology and Plastics Technology magazines to raise awareness and promote planning for more proactive mold maintenance as well as repair techniques and strategies for molders and their mold builders. This includes you—toolroom managers at molding facilities, molding facility owners, plant managers, oeM contacts responsible for tooling productivity and costs, and personnel at mold building companies responsible for repairing and maintaining their customers’ tools. Why maintenance and repair? Why now? Well, consider the competitive environment in which you do business. sure, there are many
Jim Callari EDiToRiAL DiRECToR/ ASSoCiATE PUBLiSHER
October 2013 Mold Maintenance & Repair
critical issues, but is there one technical matter more compelling these days than uptime? Poorly maintained or dirty molds quite simply take money out of your pocket. And because repairs and downtime prove costly for molders, threaten oeM program launches and can damage mold builder customer relations, this supplement reviews some essential strategies and processes for proper mold maintenance and repair—including methodology, training, cleaning and welding to name a few—which are all necessary for optimal performance of your tooling. We‘ve designed this supplement as a keepsake. We believe that the advice delivered with authority by the contributors of the content within this issue will be useful today, tomorrow and well beyond. The common sense tips and best practices shared here are certain to help you—as a moldmaker or molder—improve the efciencies of your operation if put into practice. We hope you fnd it a useful tool.
Christina Fuges EDiToRiAL DiRECToR
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F e at U R e
By Steve Johnson
Efcient Maintenance Requires A Calculated Plan Advancing from a mold repair culture to a mold maintenance culture can only be fully supported with a companywide understanding of what the real costs are and what the real potential savings can be.
Ask a manager at an injection molding facility to self grade their mold maintenance department. is it an A (a highly systemized, highly organized, highly standardized data-driven shop) or is it an F where a frefghting culture is the norm? More often than not, the self grade would be a d or F, versus an A or b. Follow up that question by asking what that less-than-optimal maintenance environment costs the company each year, and it becomes clear that it’s not thoroughly quantifed. While managers may often have walking around numbers in mind (for example, cavitation percentage targets, fnancial targets), when it comes to what the lack of a
Chris Gedwed, General Manager of Cosmetic Specialties International, reviews ToolingDocs’ eight stages of systemized mold repair and troubleshooting flowchart with his team. 4
Mold Maintenance & Repair
Images courtesy of ToolingDocs.
proper maintenance system is costing a company, it hasn’t been calculable. Most companies have turned over a lot of rocks to look for savings within their companies, but when it comes to mold maintenance, it’s this huge unknown. Most record keeping is either handwritten or electronic journal entries, where putting a cost on metrics such as defects, corrective actions and unscheduled stops is difcult. To answer this challenge, a unique calculator was developed that enables companies to benchmark what it costs them and, as a result, justify the need to improve their systems. Making real advances towards a proactive culture requires the ability to show issues and solutions as dollars and cents; otherwise, most arguments for improvement fall on deaf ears. glenn Keith, Machine shop Manager for Whirley-drinkWorks (Warren, Pa.) says, “Mold maintenance is often seen as a necessary evil. The fnance people may only see the bills from spare parts, labor and overtime, but together we haven’t been able to articulate cost justifcations of additional equipment, manpower and training. despite being as close to it as i am in this company, i’d be hard pressed to put detailed numbers on the actual cost of not having proper systems in place so that i could then put in a request for more resources.” by flling out the calculator with actual data from one’s plant, one couldn’t dispute the conclusions. randy Winton, Toolingdocs’ (Ashland, ohio) global Assessment Manager, has gone through the questions addressed in the calculator with customers who are plant and tooling managers. “no one who has input their data in the calculator has disputed the dollar amounts that have resulted,” he says. “in fact, they’ve expressed great interest in the calculations—some of which have exceeded a million dollars annually in costs that, having now been identifed, can be targeted for reduction. it’s a very useful tool
A unique Unscheduled Mold Pull Calculator that takes critical data about a company’s mold pulls and instantly computes what those unscheduled mold pulls are costing on an annual basis.
that lets a molder understand the broader scope of how much unscheduled mold stops are costing them annually.” once a number is known, where does one go from there? is it an overwhelming endeavor to bring that number down? With the overall opportunity that a molder can now calculate, what is the best way to attack the issues? look for low-lying fruit. start tracking unscheduled mold stops, and develop a plan from there. “The frst thing we did was get some training, and being a toolroom manager i wanted to hear a fresh perspective on a documentation system, optimized shop foor layouts, and what we might be able to do as a kind of quick kill and not be left with some huge initiative that might be daunting to execute,” states chris gedwed, who is general Manager of operations at cosmetic specialties international (oxnard, calif.). He continues: “We coupled our MrP system with using a maintenance tracking system for logging in our mold data. That allowed us at any given moment to identify the top October 2013
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To make continuous improvements in a mold repair facility, we must be able to measure specific metrics to set targets and goals for molds and personnel. The only substitute for a data-driven approach to mold repair is money… lots of it. In today’s economy, it is becoming more and more commonplace for the customer to ask such questions of their mold vendors simply because they want to know exactly what is going on with their half-million dollar mold. So if you don’t supply this data for your repair technicians, you might have to for your customers. Following are 10 questions that will demonstrate the current level of data utilization that exists in your company that is readily available for a repair technician, supervisor, manager or engineer to use on a daily basis. If you cannot answer the first three, you needn’t continue on because the questions continue to drill deeper into your mold knowledge database. Be aware that if it is necessary to dig through files of records to manually count occurrences and gather data, then the information in the system is not considered readily available.
fve reasons for unscheduled mold stops, as well as the top fve problem child molds. With that known, we were able to do several things. First, we could use the information for stoppages as part of our company-wide continuous improvement system and put the visibility up there across all departments that we were going to lead reducing these costs for mold stoppages and involve other departments as necessary. That allows us, as a company, to all be rowing in the same
direction to address and eliminate repeated downtime for repeated reasons.” Then, by identifying the top fve problem child molds, csi was able to target those molds for a more thorough condition assessment when they came out and let every repair technician in the shop know that these molds needed more than just a cursory PM. “rather than just doing the bare minimum to get the mold back in the press, only to see it come back again sooner that it should,” says
Mold Maintenance & Repair
Photo courtesy of ToolingDocs.
Being Data-Driven Takes More than Data Collection A mold repair technician’s job has always been to make molds run— any how, any way… just make them run. Intangibles such as bench technique and methodology, maintenance efficiency, accountability or continuous improvement have never been much of a factor in assessing the performance of a mold repair shop or an individual’s skill level. Performance was based on missed or late production schedules … period. However, today any company seeking to sharpen its competitive edge realizes that keeping molds production ready and reliable is much more dependent upon proactive maintenance measures than reactive habits. It works like this: The cost of maintenance and repair is typically contained in two buckets of money: one for labor and one for tooling. The details in these two buckets need to be broken down and measured in order to make more accurate and profitable decisions. But the details are unstandardized journal type entries or maintenance stories that can’t be easily measured. To implement an accurate, efficient repair and to optimize downtime hours, repair technicians must have access to data to quickly be familiarized with the mechanical and performance characteristics of every mold on which they work. Repair technicians should not be expected to pull from memory the data relating to specific issues of maintaining and troubleshooting a stable of expensive molds. Repair technicians operate on, and maintain the heart of, a plastics manufacturing company. They see, feel and decipher every type of tooling fit (too loose, tight or just right?), track marks, discoloration, wear and hob—looking for answers to immediate and future issues. To do the job effectively, they need to know not only about the smallest of details—such as minuscule tolerances and stack dimensions—but also the predominant, long-term issues molds suffer as a result of design or build features that cause problems during mold operation or maintenance activities.
Cosmetic Specialties International employees document critical mold data.
Performance and Maintenance Data (broken down by chosen timeframe): 1. What are your top 10 unscheduled mold stop reasons? (Unscheduled downtime) 2. What are your top 10 part or product defects? (Loss of production/mold cavitation) 3. What are your top 10 mold frame issues? (Issues with the mold – not the part) 4. What are your top 10 molds with the highest maintenance costs per hour? (Tooling and labor used per hour or cycles of run time) 5. What is your “on time” PM percentage based on your own company/shop goals? 6. What are your top 10 worst performing molds based on cavitation? (Number of cavities blocked) 7. What are your top 10 worst performing molds based on cycle time efficiency? (Standard vs. Actual) 8. What are your top 10 molds with the highest overall defect counts? 9. What are your top 10 molds with the highest overall tooling usage? 10. What are your top 10 molds with the highest overall labor requirements? Most shops, as a minimum, can quickly gather data concerning monies spent on tooling and labor. But this is only a very small part of the picture. If you want your molds to run reliably, producing the highest quality parts with the least amount of unscheduled downtime possible, then you must take the typical data that most shops collect and input it into a system that will present it back to you in a format that will allow complete utilization of it. It just does not make sense, nor is it cost effective, to spend time collecting data that you cannot use, is vague or inaccurate. So if you spend time collecting data, why not use it?
gedwed, “we took the time and put a few dollars into the mold because we were able to justify not having further cavity shutofs or mold stoppages ahead.” “it’s the ‘pay me now or pay me later’ scenario,” says Keith. “Many times there are pennies-on-the-dollar opportunities for a mold to get up to performing how it was originally intended to. We’ve seen it where, more than just disassemble, clean and assemble, we’ve sent out a mold frame for cleaning and nickel
plating, completely rebuilt cavity inserts that have been frequent fash points, and replaced some originally made lifter components with more reliable, standardized tooling. Many times it’s better to bite the bullet and reinvest in the tool and change the cost course that it’s on.” but the actual maintenance and mold performance costs need to be justifed to get this done. “When you can look at the money going into the corrective actions and lost production you then become truly data-driven,” states gedwed. “so by using the data to make decisions, you start to fx things and become less reactive. The end result is that you save money and feel confdent knowing that the problem won’t repeat.” Furthermore, it’s not just the cost of maintenance and spare parts replacement. other ramifcations can result like late shipments and quality issues in the feld that can threaten relationships and confdence with customers. i’d wager that uPs and Fedex would be able to calculate accurately what it would cost them if their feet of trucks were on the side of the road with their hoods up. similarly, we have to calculate accurately the cost of maintaining our feet of tools in order to make proftable decisions. in a perfect world there would be no such thing as mold repair—only proactive maintenance. Molds would run and be maintained in such a way as to never break down or make bad production while maximizing tooling life. However, in the real world, advancing from a mold repair culture to a mold maintenance culture can only be fully supported by beginning with a companywide understanding and agreement on what the real costs are and what the real potential savings can be—and then setting one’s course for that target.
Steve Johnson is Operations Manager for ToolingDocs.
For More Information:
ToolingDocs / (800) 257-8369 / toolingdocs.com
By John Berg
Photos courtesy of MGS Mfg Group.
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Mold Cleaning Done Right Takes a Systematic Approach Mold cleaning is just one part of a systematic and comprehensive approach to mold maintenance. Here’s one moldmaker’s strategy for injection mold cleaning and an explanation of where and why diferent techniques are employed.
imagine being an injection mold. Talk about a rough life: Working under tons and tons of pressure in a miserably hot and humid environment. every part you make has to be perfect—often both in looks and in measurement. And no matter how fast you work, someone usually wants you to work even faster. on top of all that, the folks working you so hard don’t want to pay a lot for you. Every production mold in MGS inventory has a corresponding multiple-tabbed log sheet tracing its entire history since it first began running production in our facility. Every feature, component, and maintenance activity is documented.
Mold Maintenance & Repair
You’re often thought of as a necessary evil in the overall manufacturing scheme of things. The plastic part gets all the glory while you open and close, rotate and spin, slide and lift, collapse and unscrew, heat up and cool down— thousands of times each working day. injection molds work very, very hard. They are the navy seals of the plastic molding world—the envy and the idol of thermoform, compression, blow, and extrusion molds and dies. Maintaining the optimal condition of the tool steel is critical to this marathon performance. every successful injection molding operation understands the value of a well planned and managed mold maintenance and preventive maintenance program. in order to experience the greatest amount of productive uptime, an injection mold must have regularly scheduled downtime for proper evaluation and diagnostics, cleaning, and any required refurbishment, replacement, or repair. A systematic and well documented approach to mold care ensures long-term performance. This article will focus on the activities of one phase of the preventive maintenance sequence—mold cleaning as part of a scheduled maintenance cycle. i suggest you visit MoldMaking Technology magazine’s website (moldmakingtechnology.com) and access a great article on mold cleaning by my friend, steve Johnson of Tooling docs. “cleaning Molds: Part i and Part ii” (oct. and nov. 2004) discusses the various techniques and technologies in use. Preventive Maintenance: Steady on the Steel it is impossible to defne the universal frst step in mold PM because this is not a “one size fts all” scenario. is it a newly constructed mold that has only been functionally sampled? is this a fully qualifed mold ready to kick of 5000 hr-per-year production? is the mold part of a transfer package from another molding facility?
Has it run in production for several years and is now slated to run in a diferent press and different facility? is it a new mold but a duplicate of one already in production? is it a new mold creating a newly designed part without any past history to draw from? Are we running simple polypropylene, or glass-flled nylon with its abrasive and gassing characteristics? each set of circumstances provides its own set of challenges and the resultant need to plan, execute, and document a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan. The following procedures are based on the day-to-day activities of the Mgs Mfg. PM shop in germantown, Wis. our team is stafed with
Parting-line PM does not necessarily occur with the mold in the press. It also involves more than a simple wipe-down. As part of the MGS PM tool shop’s best practices, some molds require partial disassembly for an appropriate P/L PM, including removal of any slides and other moving components.
12 toolmakers; many of them came through the ranks of our tool-build shops. They are experienced mold makers. The shop has its own section of our production molding facility to call home, where, just like in every great tool shop, it is always sunny and 72°. They have the equipment and technologies they need to keep molds rocking. We have over 2000 injection molds in our production inventory. Those molds are so important to us that we make sure each one October 2013
Photos courtesy of MGS Mfg Group.
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The portability of dry-ice blasting systems makes them ideal for in-press preventive-maintenance cleaning. Even in the tight spaces often experienced on the molding production floor, MGS PM toolmaker Mark Hennecke is able to position himself and the equipment to service the production mold safely and effectively.
of them has regularly scheduled visits to their steel doctor—an Mgs PM toolmaker (who, you will soon discover, makes house calls as well). The two scenarios i will explain use an existing production mold as an example. Two Cleaning Scenarios let’s consider the two types of mold cleaning situations or environments—in-press and on the bench. in-press refers to the cleaning activities taking place while the mold is still fully assembled and mounted in the injection molding machine. in-press PM is sometimes referred to as Parting line PM (although Parting line PM is also done on the bench—it’s all about access). This is the type of cleaning that happens most frequently and is based on a predetermined number of cycles or production hours. in many cases, the maximum cycle count before the frst scheduled in-press cleaning event will be set by an experienced PM toolmaker who will base the initial run count on the resin being used, 10
Mold Maintenance & Repair
the nature of the core and/or cavity surfaces, and the general mold construction techniques employed. Molding activities will be halted, but the mold will remain in the press. The mold may need to be allowed to cool down prior to handling, depending on the nature of the cleaning technique to be used. The frst step is a visual inspection. The PM toolmaker examines the mold, looking for any undue wear, gassing, or accumulation of residue. These observations and the resulting actions are noted and logged as part of the injection mold’s electronic PM journal. After a complete visual inspection, the toolmaker wipes down the exposed mold surfaces with a cloth of appropriate material (cotton on highly polished surfaces) using a standard industry degreaser. This general surface cleaning and inspection is followed by an examination and greasing of parting-line locks, pins, and bushings. Air blasting is used as needed. even though we call it a P/l PM, we go beyond the parting line. it is part of our bestpractices approach that has the PM toolmaker remove the slides (and any easily accessed moving components) and thoroughly degrease, clean, inspect, and regrease as required.
The PM toolmaker may decide to use a portable dry-ice blasting method during an inpress PM. The use of dry-ice blasting does not require the mold to be cooled down—in fact, the heat of the mold actually enhances the efectiveness of the dry-ice blast method. This technology uses compressed air and shaved dry ice to clean mold surfaces and remove residue without introducing any contaminants. The efect of small particles of ice hitting the mold surface at high speeds with the extreme temperature diference between the hot mold surface and the dry ice (-109 F/-78 c) makes for an efective scrub without leaving any residue behind. This cleaning method process is approved by the ePA, usdA, and FdA. While the setup of the dry-ice system initially adds a small amount of time to the event,
it signifcantly reduces overall PM time (which is downtime) by keeping the mold in the press and out of the shop. dry-ice cleaning is used for both in-press and on-the-bench PM. it is an efective and safe cleaning method for all steels, including polished surfaces. says Mgs germantown’s tooling engineering manager, Mike Welnak, “We have documented a signifcant reduction in mold downtime since we deployed the dry-ice system. We run a wide range of engineered resins in both conventional and highly engineered tooling systems and this technique has proven to be efective on many in-press applications.” When the PM schedule calls for a full preventive maintenance event, the mold will be taken out of the press and into our PM shop. Here it is treated like the celebrity it is and is greeted
How Other Molders Approach Mold Cleaning “Rogan’s policy specific to mold cleaning and inspection applies to all molds, after the mold is removed from the molding press and before it is put back in its storage location. Mold faces are cleaned with mold cleaner and a clean rag, and/or compressed air. All water lines are cleared with compressed air, and all plastic and molding residues are removed. For diamond-polished surfaces, Rogan uses mold cleaner and compressed air only. We also make a point to check for scratches, chips, cracked cavities, broken cores, core pins, ejector pins, missing components, broken leader pins and bushings, and warped or burred plates.” Jim Ritzema, Direction of Operations, Rogan Corporation, Northbrook, Ill.
3. The third is a PMXXXX (mold #). This PM has a specific instruction; a predetermined frequency based on run-hours, and it comes to the toolroom on a unique work order, which must be completed before the system will allow the job to be scheduled into the press.” Shawn Dusing, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Donnelly Custom Manufacturing, Alexandria, Minn.
“At Donnelly, we have three categories of preventative maintenance, depending on the need of the individual mold: 1. We have a standard PM initially set up on a 250 run-hour frequency, this is adjusted up or down as necessary and includes a generic instruction for cleaning the mold components. 2. We also have what is called a CCPM where the mold is scheduled for cleaning as soon as an order is entered into the ERP system. This PM contains specific instructions on what issue needs attention prior to the mold going into the press, regardless of run hours logged on the mold. An example may be “vent pins” in specific areas.
“One of the things we do for injection mold Preventative Maintenance is use environmentally friendly mold solvents in cleaning all the sub-components of a mold. The type of solvent used does not require additional wipe-down after cleaning. This is a dramatic improvement in the method we used prior to this, which required a secondary wipe-down on all the components just to get rid of leftover residue. We also have eliminated shop rags from our tool room and strictly just use White Wipe All’s. We eliminated shop rags for tooling because they could be used with other types of chemicals that could have a negative impact on surface steel, and the rags tend to collect chips or debris that could damage polished surfaces.” Steve Feaster, Injection Molding Plant Manager, Currier Plastics, Inc., Auburn, N.Y. “We still do it the old way, tearing the mold apart, and either using a plastic bead air blast or polishing compound.” Per Flem, Owner & CEO, Recto Molded Products, Cincinnati, Ohio
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condition of parting-line safety straps. very often, some shops (you may insert here: “lowcost overseas”) do not design-in eye bolts or include P/l safety straps. When required, we will add or modify these features. The next step is to identify and tag all components, bases, and plates that are accessible prior to opening and disassembly. once the frst phase of component identifcation is complete, the mold is taken apart and the internal components (slides, core and cavity blocks, ejector pins, core pins, etc.) are tagged and evaluated. observations on general condition, construction techniques, and specifc wear areas are noted and addressed as required and then the appropriate cleaning steps are taken. The PM toolmaker will remove as much grease from the mold components as possible using traditional methods (cloth of appropriate material, standard degreaser, and MGS PM toolmaker Marcus Keidl lowers four mold components into the ultrasonic cleaning bath. Ultrasonic is more effective and time-efficient than traditional cleaning methods.
Photos courtesy of MGS Mfg Group.
warmly and made to feel relaxed and at ease. depending on its size, it is split into its A and b halves and elevated to an appropriate table or work platform. This will allow the toolmaker the appropriate access and facilitates the ability to work comprehensively and, most importantly, safely. As stated earlier, we are considering an existing production mold for our examples. in that case, each of the individual mold components has already been identifed and labeled, ensuring the ability of the toolmaker to maintain organization during the cleaning process through reassembly. in the case of a 64-cavity mold or a mold with multiple cavities and multiple actions, readily discernable component identifcation is especially critical. in the event we are performing the initial pre-launch PM on a transfer mold (a mold not built by Mgs and never run in our facility), the PM toolmaker determines the existence and location of eye bolts and the existence and
Mold Maintenance & Repair
some human muscle) and will then utilize our ultrasonic machine. The individual components are usually organized by logical grouping or by size before being placed into our ultrasonic cleaning system. cleaning mold components using the ultrasonic method efectively removes contamination from the surfaces of the mold and also from difcult or impossible areas to clean by hand, like vent paths, ejector-pin holes, and cooling channels. The ultrasonic process is non-abrasive and efciently removes the residue from burnt polymers and mold releases from mold surfaces. Aside from the involvement of a PM toolmaker or technician in the setup and takeout of the mold components, the ultrasonic cleaning process is hands-free, so the toolmaker can devote his energies to projects that make the best use of his time and talents. The process of cleaning injection mold components via ultrasonic bath ofers signifcant advantages over traditional manual scrubbing. The use of abrasive techniques, of any kind, is detrimental to the tool surface, especially those that are highly fnished. The ultrasonic method does not invade the surface of the steel the way conventional friction-based methods do. ultrasonic cleaning uses a system called cavitation—the rapid forming and collapsing of millions of very small bubbles in a bath of water and suitable biodegradable cleaner. Although tiny, these little bubbles are tenacious fghters and will work their way into and around all mold-component surfaces—crevices, grooves, channels, blind holes … you name it, they go in it and after it. The ultrasonic process has proven itself to be extremely efective in removing the residues and contaminants from mold releases, burnt resin, and vent outgas without harming the surface of the steel. The ultrasonic cleaning cycle takes 20 minutes for most applications, with additional time or cycles required for molds running high-temperature/gassy resins. certain performance-enhancing additives (fame retardants or talc fller, for example) can also be detrimental to good mold-steel health without regular
cleaning. certain grades or durometers of TPe can also be challenging to remove and require additional time and efort. colorants can sometimes stain steel and resist cleaning eforts. overall, the two primary cleaning technologies used at Mgs—dry-ice blasting and ultrasonic—are efective and reliable for most of our applications. There are a few exceptions and special considerations. Aluminum molds, for example, will be damaged by some of the solvents used in ultrasonic cleaning—so more traditional methods must be employed. now that the injection mold is thoroughly clean, it will be regreased and reassembled. All activities performed and all observations regarding wear and component performance are noted in the mold’s electronic journal. The production mold is often the single most expensive piece of dedicated equipment in an injection molding cell. The argument that it is the most important piece of equipment could certainly be made. The injection molding machine costs more, but its work life can be applied toward more than one mold or product. if the press breaks down, you can temporarily move the mold to another machine—even another facility or to another molder, if need be. A robot, a conveyor, or most any piece of ancillary equipment can be replaced. but, when the mold goes down, production stops—there is no substitute. Who has the budget to build double the tooling capacity needed, just in case? Taking good care of the production mold is a priority and requires the eforts of dedicated and well trained professionals. A formal and regimented maintenance and cleaning plan must be in place to ensure a long and repeatedly productive mold life.
John Berg has more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience working for OEMs and business-to-business agencies. He is marketing director for MGS Mfg. Group, a custom injection molder, moldmaker, and equipment supplier.
For More Information:
MGS Mfg Group / [email protected]
By James Bourne
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Photo courtesy of Thogus.
Working Your Way Through The Welding Options
There are plenty of choices in welding technologies for mold repair. Here, a toolroom supervisor and his team share some at-the-bench knowledge of them to help you decide which one’s right for you.
in the world of mold manufacturing, welding is anathema. in the work of mold repair, where parting lines get rolled over, shut ofs wear and gall, lifters break and crash the cavity, welding can be either a boogeyman or a savior; a best option or a last resort. As such, it behooves anyone involved in mold repair to be somewhat familiar with the processes and limitations of welding. First of, i’m certain that anyone interested enough to read about mold repair is cognizant of the fact that we’re not talking about 14
Mold Maintenance & Repair
fabrication and the guy with the Mig welder is not your go-to when it comes to doing weld repairs on a mold. Welding for mold repair is for our intents, any weld on surfaces that form the molded part. looking at mold repair welding options—with each having a variety of sub-sets—every method has its place and limitations. The decision to invest in any specifc welding technology and At Thogus in-house micro welding capabilities save them time and money from not having to outsource mold repair jobs—such as tiny core pins cracking.
the requisite training needs to be made with regard to three factors: (1) quality of repair needed, so that you can match the equipment to the expectation; (2) quantity of repair work anticipated to help calculate an roi (check your history for a baseline); and, (3) the option of outsourcing weld repairs. Keep in mind that with outsourcing comes the headache of logistics. For example, scheduling, availability, transportation, additional downtime, lost production etc. on the other hand, outsourcing allows you access to the knowledge, skills and expertise of a specialist. Resistance Welding in terms of initial investment, resistance welding though not the cheapest is still at the low end of the scale. This type of equipment is available from a variety of vendors from polishing suppliers to mold component suppliers. not to be dismissive of this technology, it is probably the most limited in terms of efcacy. resistance welding is basically a spot welding process. To accomplish a repair you perform a series of over-lapping spot welds and then if necessary go over the area several times layering to get an adequate build-up. its advantages include its lower cost to purchase, it can be used for very small repair areas and the basic operation of the equipment can be learned in a few minutes. However like any new skill or equipment, it takes does take time to master, and this equipment—though simple and straightforward—is no exception. With things that are simple to understand and operate the learning is often what not to do. To maximize the efectiveness of resistance welding, don’t rush, take your time to clean the workpiece, the electrode and the fller material; take time to carefully position the fller material and electrode; take time to learn the discipline of removing your foot from the pedal before taking the electrode of the workpiece. speaking from experience, lifting the electrode while the system is energized can result in a crater blasted into your workpiece that is
10 times the size of the original repair you were attempting. due at least in part to the fact that there is no shielding gas to create a clean atmosphere for the weld, porosity and contamination in the weld is a concern. Another drawback is that weld penetration is minimal at best. There are three types of media with this process: (1) sheet stock, (2) wire stock and (3) powder. All of them—once the repair is polished—have a tendency to leave a repair with plenty of inclusions (for example, cavities, holes, voids, etc.). This is rarely acceptable for a surface that forms the molded part; although sometimes it will pass, if it is on the core side of the part. Again, patience, cleanliness and attention to technique can mitigate these dangers. This option is quick, and sometimes an acceptable band-aid repair until something better can be done. TiG Welding Tig (tungsten inert gas) welding is also a reasonably inexpensive option, but unlike resistance welding, Tig welding ofers signifcant penetration and includes an Argon gas shield that provides a clean environment within which the weld can take place. The result is what can be referred to as homogenous weld. The Tig arc melts the base metal and fller rod is added to the pool. The resultant repair is all one piece of metal. sure there is a possibility of inclusions due to contaminants (or sub-standard base metal), but these are the exception not the rule. The down side of repairs made with this process is the HAZ (Heat afected Zone). The most obvious efect is seen when the repair is brought back down to fush and the sink around the weld becomes apparent. The amount (depth) of the sink is minimal and in some cases can be blended adequately. Again, speaking as an end user not a metallurgist, i’ll borrow a phrase from an engineer i once worked with: “i know more than i understand” about how heat afects the steel being welded. You have a small area that gets heated to several thousand degrees and two inches away the steel may be only a couple hundred degrees. This range of heat afects the hardness and characOctober 2013
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Photo courtesy of Precision Laser Technology.
teristics of the steel in diferent ways at diferent places along the temperature scale. The real problem is that due to these changes the repair may be signifcantly diferent than the base metal, and consequently may not take a polish the same as the surrounding steel. The diference can be enough to show on a molded part. i’ve seen expert polishers who can make an acceptable match, but i’ve also seen repairs that need periodic attention to maintain the match. There are special handling procedures that can mitigate the efects of Tig welding. Full process color match welding entails pre-heating (that can be problematic when you have a 30,000-pound cut-in-the-solid cavity block), fller material matching and post weld-
Advancing a sidewall of a 420 SS mold insert by 0.015” using laser welding technology.
ing tempering. This process can dramatically reduce the efects of heat on the repaired mold, but takes time and expertise. color match welding is probably best left to a professional with experience. Micro Welding Micro welding is a sub-set of Tig welding, with the added beneft of small scale repairs using fller wire as small as 0.003, amperage settings 16
Mold Maintenance & Repair
under 10 amps and on the level of requiring magnifcation. needless to say with repairs, the less material added, the less machine or hand work required to take it back to net shape, the less time involved in the repair. due to the small size of weld—for the purposes of mold repair—micro welding is a signifcant enhancement of the Tig welding process, but comes with some increase in initial investment. Further, it is a continuous arc process that builds up heat in the workpiece and results in the attendant HAZ though on a smaller scale. Another permutation of Tig welding is pulsed Tig welding. The advantage of pulsed welding is that the build-up of heat is minimized, and so the efect on the surrounding steel. These units give micro sized spot welds that can be overlapped, but unlike resistance welds, are in fact homogenous welds done with a shielding gas to enhance cleanliness and uniformity of the weld. due to their ubiquitous nature, straightforward Tig welders are inexpensive. on the other hand, micro Tig welding setups are more expensive. Laser Welding Without considering all relevant factors, laser welding is the closest thing to a perfect weld; at least when it comes to mold cavity repair. Microscopic welds can be performed with total control of the size and location of the weld. From flling in small voids to repairing parting line fash, there is probably not a more accurate option. due to the fact that so much of the process is equipment controlled, the learning curve is short. You won’t be an expert the day you unpack the welder, but you will be making
Training the Tool Repair Technician “United Tool & Mold, Inc. is a mold shop with a niche specialty in mold repair, so we geared our apprenticeship more towards the tear down and repair side of moldmaking—incorporating hot runners, preventive maintenance and troubleshooting, as these are the things that we do on a daily basis. We don’t build new tools, so there was no reason to stay with the standard apprenticeship model; however, we still have the traditional classes/ on-the-job training (OJT) hours for maUTM’s apprenticeship program is chining fundamentals, geared towards the tear down and manual mills, lathe, repair side of moldmaking. grinding, etc,. We have classes for mechatronics (covers hydraulic and electrical), jig and fixture design and repair, hot runner basics (for repair/troubleshooting), preventive maintenance (machines), preventive maintenance (molds), troubleshooting molds, spotting, and polishing. Both our CNC Operator and Repairman apprenticeships have the same classes for the first three years, with the final year getting more intensive into their chosen path. We have worked with Tri-County Technical College for most of the education classes as well as setting up industry experts to teach our hot runner and polishing classes. On-the-Job Learning: During the Apprenticeship, the Apprentice shall receive work experience and job related education in all phases of the occupation, including safe work practices, necessary to develop the skill and proficiency of a skilled professional. Apprentices are rotated throughout the various work processes to ensure a well-rounded professional upon completion of the Apprenticeship. Job Related Education: The courses here supplement the on-the-job learning. It is through the combination of both the on-the-job learning and the related education that the apprentice can reach the skilled level of the occupation.” Jeromy Arnett, Production Administration Manager United Tool & Mold, Inc. (Easley, S.C.)
Raising Repair Techs http://www.moldmakingtechnology.com/ videos/raising-repair-techs
acceptable welds with minimal instruction right from the start. From an initial investment standpoint, the equipment is by far the most expensive. coupled with the ongoing cost of annual maintenance and the relative fragility of the equipment, you really need to do your homework before deciding to invest in this technology. laser welding equipment is not designed to be put in a truck and transported from work site to work site. rough handling may require a service call to have mirrors realigned. And bulbs have a limited life expectancy and may also require a factory trained technician to install. Additionally, laser welders have self contained cooling units, which depending upon the type, need di water changed out from 3 months to 2 years. These are not warnings, just factors to be aware of before making an investment. laser welders range in price from enclosed cabinet units suitable for welding small cores and inserts to portable units with extendable arms capable of in-situ welds done at the press. When you have a huge mold that requires hours to remove from or set up in a press—and even more time to be brought back up to heat after being cooled—in-press repairs have a double beneft when calculating return on investment. Plasma Arc Welding Plasma arc welding is not new technology, which makes me wonder why it is not more widely used in mold repair. The pulse feature seems to make it a viable option for mold repair yet even this does not appear to be a recent development. Plasma welding like laser welding is rather easy to learn. Plasma welds are done through a microscope with optics that provide ten times magnifcation and auto darkening lenses, so cumbersome helmets are not necessary. With that level of magnifcation accurate repairs can be made to fne details. A plasma welder comes in under $20,000, which may be an easily justifable alternative in a repair environment. Although laser welding, pulled plasma arc welding and pulsed Tig welding share the pulse feature, the technical aspects are vastly diferOctober 2013
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ent. The pulse is in contrast to a continuous arc used in Tig welding processes. The pulses are short bursts of energy high enough to actually melt both the base metal and the fller rod; yet residual heat is quickly dissipated in the base metal. it doesn’t take much of a Tig weld to make a workpiece too hot to handle, laser, plasma and pulsed Tig result in a workpiece that is basically at ambient temperature when fnished. several of these options have been described as “easy to learn,” which is not to say that they are child’s play. in contrast to the dexterity, technique and experience required to perform delicate work with a conventional Tig, the more expensive options provide increased machine control of the welding process, and due to the micro size, the mishaps are likely to be less disastrous. From the Field The editors of MoldMaking Technology reached out to a handful of moldmakers and molders to learn about their mold repair and welding experiences. scott Phipps, President of united Tool and Mold (uTM; easley, s.c.) shares his thoughts on how laser welding is a tool, not a cure-all or magic eraser. “You still need to have a skilled employee with signifcant Tig welding experience that understands parent materials, rods, size of rods, and welding applications in general. laser welding is good for small edges, small build up, small pits, and hard
Photo courtesy of R&D/Leverage.
Part: 20-ounce base cup received from customer damaged. Process: clean, weld damaged surfaces, CNC and manual machining to bring part back to print specification, polish and engrave.
Mold Maintenance & Repair
to get to areas. We have employed laser welding in grained areas and high polish fnishes due to having very minimal heat afected zones and you do not afect the surrounding areas. special attention is needed to ensure that you are laying beads or build up so as to not have a chipping issue. laser welding is especially nice with copper nickel alloys and aluminum small touch up areas. skill levels on a laser welder can be increased at a faster pace than that of traditional welding applications. This is due, in part, to the simplicity of the machines versus the skill levels needed with the Tig welding applications.” over at Thogus (Avon lake, ohio), micro welding experts sean Murphy and John lauer explain that in-house micro welding capabilities save them time and money from not having to outsource mold repair jobs—such as tiny core pins cracking. They get results within hours rather than waiting days for the new core pins to come back from an outside source. Micro welding allows them to build up small edges, grind down smaller areas, polish and put them back in the tool, so they can go back into production much faster than those without this technology. Adam nelson, laser business Manager for r&d/leverage (lee’s summit, Mo.) explains how choosing the proper welding technique is essential. “We at r&d/leverage use fve-axis 100 Watt nd:YAg lasers, primarily. choosing the proper welding technique is key. You have to balance speed, efciency and precision. Tig can handle a large area for more bulk welding, but laser welding does not leave a HAZ (Heat Afected Zone) on the part. This allows us to laser weld a tool and machine it with much greater ease compared to a tradition Tig weld where you will fnd surface hardening due to the HAZ. We also fnd the laser weld can be applied in a more precise manner, making the post processing (whether it is milling, laser engraving or
Photo courtesy of Tech Molded Plastics.
exactly to the existing part, rather than re-texturing or attempting to blend into the existing texture. once we have that texture mapped digitally into a solid model we can then use our process settings library to apply that texture to the mold in a very precise manner.” When it comes to considerations for 24/7 tool repair, dale Pringle, Tooling division Manager for Tech Molded Plastics (Meadville, Pa.) says, “repair and protection are likely the two primary issues that encompass uptime contribution. it’s part of our everyday experiTech Molded Plastics, Inc. has on-site preventative maintenance, mold repair and technical support from ence. As far as mold repair, journeymen toolmakers 24 hours a day to ensure production up-time is maximized when tooling issues occur. which involves breakage, we use either spare tooling texturing) more efcient.” to replace it or a micro-welding process. Then When it comes to laser engraving and we stress-relieve it and fash chrome it aftertexturing within mold repair, nelson adds that wards to increase the life of the core. This is the challenges they face come in the form of necessary because the process of welding can re-creating or matching the existing laser-prochange the properties out of the steel. since cessed features when they generally do not we have 24/7 production, we always have toolhave engineering documentation. However, he makers ready to repair 24/7.” notes that they are well ahead of the curve in When addressing steel conditions that multiple areas. require repair, the solution depends on several “For laser engraving, we are working to factors including the remaining expected life of re-create the laser engraving that is pre-existing the product, according to Pringle. “in our expeand undamaged. With this scenario we have to rience, plating over areas of concern can mask consider the material make-up, hardness and the issue, which could become an unrecognized surface fnishes. Fortunately, with our experiliability at a later time. Welding becomes one ence we have created libraries documenting of the few longer-term cost-efective solutions. these process parameters. These documents rebuilding the steel can be expensive and time along with other reverse engineering techconsuming especially when production downniques allow us to reverse engineer that time may be afected. Popular thought has the pre-existing tool and match the undamaged belief that the welded area may be stronger portions very well,” explains nelson. after welding, but that may not be entirely acHe continues, “laser texturing is a very curate. reworked conditions are rarely as good similar situation. Here we are working with the as new. original steel properties, in most cases, latest texture mapping software and vision are the best that they will ever be. if fragile systems, which allow us to match the textures tooling and conditions exist where breakage, October 2013
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damage and/or repair is frequent, the best solution is to address the root cause and take preventative action whenever possible.” Pringle goes on to emphasize that the quality of the micro-weld process and the person performing the task both have an impact on performance. As with most highly technical services, the performance and quality of the fnal product is based on the techniques and skill of the people performing the task. He adds that thoughtful consideration of geometry and its relative size, shape and properties has an infuence over the decision to micro weld or laser weld. He advises to study the options that best ft the project and expected outcome. “We primarily focus on long-term, low maintenance solutions. We understand the need for minimizing downtime, increasing the efective rate of quality while in production and reducing the risk of rework. Due to this focus the choice to outsource micro and laser welding services is a no-brainer. Our operations live by the length of good quality production runs. If a company needed to invest in in-sourcing weld repair technology and training due to constant repair needs, the solution is to prevent the repair from being needed,” states Pringle. Summary These from-the-feld observations about mold repair technologies are meant to pique your interest and then encourage you to further investigate their various capabilities and benefts to your specifc mold repair applications. Remember that one piece of equipment or process will not be the best for every application. The key is to know what your requirements are and then seek the best option.
James Bourne is a tool repair supervisor and freelance writer. For More Information:
James Bourne / (573) 701-9123 / [email protected]
Mold Maintenance & Repair
Mold Cleaner and Saver DME Mold Cleaner removes corrosion-forming substances—including lactic acid, urea and sodium chloride, which are often found in perspiration residues left by the handling of polished cavities. Mold Cleaner provides up to 20 days of rust protection at temperatures up to 120°F and 100 percent humidity, according to the company. It is a protective coating for polished cavities and all metal parts. Its transparent film protects from corrosion and damage. It is soft, dry and waxy, averaging about 0.0003 of an inch thick. For maximum convenience and precision, try the Sure Shot Compressed-Air Spray Canister, which holds a quart of either of these products. It’s refillable, reusable and easy to handle.
Status Display for Magnetic Chucks Operators will now be able to quickly see whether the MAGNOS magnetic chucks from SCHUNK are activated or not. All of the new square pole chucks will now be offered with an optional permanent display that informs the operator of the clamping status of the magnetic chuck. The display is completely independent from the main energy supply. The magnetic chuck is fixed to the machine table, and then connected by a sealed quick release connector to the control unit. As soon as it is activated, the indicator of the permanent status display changes to green. The display works independently from the power supply, and will be visible even if the power cable has been disconnected after activation of the permanent magnet. With the MAGNOS square pole plates, workpieces can be quickly clamped and are machined in one setup from five sides. If moveable pole extensions are used, a deformation free setup is possible.
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Mold Maintenance & Repair
Micro Welder The MOLDMENDER Micro Welder repairs plastic injection molds, rubber processing molds, and die casting molds/dies made of steel. Applications are parting lines, corners/edges, pin holes/scratches and machining errors. Repairs are accomplished by producing interlinking spot welds to totally bond metallic ribbon, wire, paste or powder to the desired area of the workpiece. The equipment quickly repairs molds and dies using the same or similar materials as the workpiece. Surface finishing may be done by EDM’ing, grinding, machining, plating and polishing to obtain the desired sharp edges or other contours. rocklinmanufacturingco.com
Mold Stones and Polishing Equipment Made from select premium aluminum oxide grain and a proprietary treatment process, Golden Star mold stone from BORIDE Engineered Abrasives is of medium hardness with a fast breakdown offering quick material removal while contouring quickly and leaving a smooth finish. BORIDE also introduces two additions to its polishing equipment line— the Grande BLH 600 Microgrinder and the U-Lap 30 Profiler. borideabrasives.com
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Mold Cleaner without TriChlor Mold Cleaner Plus Degreaser 4 from Slide Products is powerful and evaporates fast. It has no chlorinated solvents, including no TriChlor. It provides a convenient method for removal of silicones, grease, oil and wax build-up on mold and die surfaces. Ideal for cold molds, it leaves no residue, so it cleans without wiping. It is non-conductive and non-abrasive. It is available in convenient aerosol and bulk formulations. Visit the website for a free trial sample.
New Grades of Ultra Purge Moulds Plus International has developed new specific grades of Ultra Purge designed to purge clear PC and PMMA applications, which have evolved from the 5060 grade. The Ultra Purge PMMA (designed for Acrylic) and the Ultra Purge HT+ (designed for PC) are low residue grades that are effective for color changes, carbon removal and material changes. The benefit of Ultra Purge is that typically all contamination is eliminated within 4 shots after using the Ultra Purge grades designed for clear PC and Acrylic applications.
Dry Ice Cleaning Cold JetÕs patented i3MicroClean dry ice technology is designed to clean into tight mold geometries and vents with shaved dry ice particles, it offers paramount performance from the most delicate clean to deburring and deflashing plastic parts, according to the company. It uses industry standard 14# quarter-block dry ice to clean mold surfaces without damage or creating secondary waste. The i3 allows for lower air consumption (12-50 cfm at 80psi), better dry ice usage efficiency (0-1.2 lbs/min), meetÕs global noise decibel requirements, and is automation capable.
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“Effective in repairing areas where tig welding would have destroyed edges and surfaces” “Saved us thousands in labor and materials”
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Mold Maintenance & Repair
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PRofIT fRom maInTenance “Before ToolingDocs, our shop averaged 15 unscheduled mold stops per week. Now, one year later, we’re down 65%, a savings of $85,000 in mold downtime.” Chris Gedwed, Operations Manager CSI - Cosmetic Specialties International, Oxnard, CA
ToolingDocs is the industry’s leading mold maintenance and repair training resource, helping molders get the most out of their tooling investment. Call ToolingDocs to discuss how these proven training systems will allow you to: Improve overall tool cavity efficiency | Reduce unscheduled mold stoppages Decrease spare component inventory.
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