In 2008, when the first wave of the recession hit, Manchester, CT-based Advance Mold & Manufacturing Inc. began adding 30,000 ft2 to its facility, doubling the size of its custom moldmaking plant. In May 2010, Advance held an open house to showcase the new addition that drew attention even from the state's governor, Jody Rell, who attended the event, according to Adam Cole, New Business and Marketing Manager for Advance Mold in an interview at the MD&M Plastec West trade show in Anaheim, CA.
Also in 2008, Advance started work on a 24,000-ft2 technical center in a leased building across the street from the moldmaking facility. Completed in 2009, the technical center provides bays for developing manufacturing cells, mold validation, process development DOE, and automation, using customer presses or one of Advance Mold's presses.
The technical center contains four sampling presses: a 28-ton LSR machine; a 110-ton Cincinnati; a 220-ton Arburg 2-shot press; and a 500-ton Engel. Cole notes that the company recently completed two manufacturing cells for customers, one of which will ship to Malaysia and the other to Mexico.
2010 turned into a banner year for Advance Mold, which Cole attributes to three major factors. "First, because of recession and downsizing in the industry, we had less competition from the shops of the caliber required to build the technologically complex molds that we build, typically 32- to 64-cavity and up," he explains.
And second, "The addition of the technical center, which allows us to provide turn-key services, quick response time for de-bugging, trouble shooting, and qualifying molds, also gave us new opportunities with both current and new customers."
Third, Advance Mold partnered with two companies to provide mold details with conformal cooling channels using a DMLS process. "Some of our customers are taking advantage of conformal cooling—non-traditional cooling paths—using a powder form of 420-stainless steel in a direct metal laser sintering process," Cole adds.
The result? "Starting eight months ago we were the busiest we've been in our 51-year history," comments Cole, adding that the company is experiencing "a continuation of that business increase with sales and deliveries currently out to the June-July time frame. Based on our customers and industry contacts feedback, we're confident that will continue through the year." —Clare Goldsberry