2014: an innovative year for growth in mold manufacturing

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December 22, 2014

2014 has been an innovative year and along with innovation comes growth. Many of the articles and blogs that I wrote this past year brought this innovation to light. When you think of innovation you typically think of technology, but there are also ways to innovate in management.

The three-part series titled "Anatomy of a Molder" was an interesting one to write. It detailed the start-up and growth over three decades of Plastic Molding Manufacturing (PMM), now ResTech Plastic Molding. History is important and it's not often that companies take time to look back at where they came from and consider why they've been successful and where they've stumbled along the way. In talking with the founders of PMM, they realized they did a lot of things right. And it's not over yet. ResTech Plastic Molding just purchased another molding company, True Precision Plastics. [ResTech Plastic Molding acquires True Precision Plastics].

Starting up and running a molding operation takes a lot of time, money, decision-making and risk, but it can pay off when you have the right strategy and the right people in place to help make it happen. It also involves innovative thinking - doing things differently even though you have the same equipment.

Speaking of doing things differently, Currier Plastics, a custom molder specializing in both injection molding and extrusion blowmolding, thinks outside the box. Two customers approached Currier at about the same time - one needed additional blow molding capacity for detergent bottles; another customer had purchased a company that had in-house injection molding. With some innovative thinking and creative planning, Currier moved eight Engel injection molding presses belonging to the customer to Currier's facility [Customers buy the machines, Currier Plastics molds the parts].

Mold manufacturers have had a good year with most of them saying that they've been really busy and that backlogs are growing. Writing about the success of various moldmaking companies is always exciting. If the moldmakers are busy, the molders typically are as well. I had the pleasure of doing a number of articles about the growth of some of the best moldmaking companies.

Adding equipment and technology always results in growth of mold companies. Many are adding automated work cells, which helps them reduce lead times, and helps with the shortage of skilled labor. Fairway Injection Molding Systems invested of $1 million annually over the past three years in production mold manufacturing machinery and injection molding machines [Fairway Injection Molding Systems invests $3 million in new machinery]. 

Industrial Molds is making a $1.7 million investment in new machinery to accommodate the company's growth, as well as investing another $300,000 in a complete renovation of its 43,000-square-foot facility to create a more efficient layout for the various departments, create better work flow, and to make space for the new, larger machinery [Industrial Molds invests $1.7 million in new machinery].

Linear Mold & Engineering expanded its fleet of DMLS/SLM 3D printing/additive manufacturing and has spent a lot of time giving technical seminars and presentations, and plant tours over the past year. The company's innovative use of DMLS for conformal cooling channels for injection molds, as well as for end-use parts for the aerospace and automotive industries has really put this young, small mold manufacturing on the map. [Linear Mold & Engineering addresses additive manufacturing gap with planned expansion].

And what would a year of news be without more articles on 3D printing than we can count! We know all of our readers love these 3D printing articles, and this year was no exception. There's so much going on in this industry segment. A trip to RAPID in Detroit in June provided some really great information. For a quick overview of what's new including a huge machine from Cincinnati Inc. - the BAAMci - in cooperation with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory [RAPID 2014: A showcase for innovation and creativity].

It even printed a car that I rode in a few weeks ago! [3D printing has come a long way].

Of course, there were a lot of blogs that our readers seemed to like - especially the ones in which I take the automotive industry to task for their bad behavior toward suppliers. That's not likely to change so stay tuned for more in 2015. I'm keeping an on them!!

Have a great 2015!!

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