SPE honors moldmaker and mold designer of the year

Harry Raimondi, Technical Services Manager for Bales Metal Surface Solutions, was named the SPE Mold Maker of the Year and Chris Hanes, Engineering Manager for both Micro Mold and Plastikos, received the SPE Mold Designer of the Year award at the recent AmeriMold conference and trade show in Chicago.

Glenn Starkey (right), Chair of the SPE Mold Maker/Designer
Division, presents awards to Chris Hanes (second from right)
and Harry Raimondi.

Raimondi was fresh out of high school in 1964 and wondering what to do with his life when a conversation with an uncle, who was a moldmaker, sparked him to enter the trade. He spent the next 29 years learning his moldmaking skills and plying his trade at various moldmaking companies in the northern Illinois area.

Because of his many years of behind-the-bench experience, Raimondi found his way into other jobs in the industry, including a move to Bales Mold as that company's first-ever Technical Services Manager in 1996. It was there that Raimondi helped Bales customers—moldmakers—tackle their toughest surface and finishing issues. He also used his experience and expertise in moldmaking to support new business development and to provide consultation and management assistance.

Today, Raimondi is helping the second generation of the family-owned company, now known as Bales Metal Surface Solutions (Downers Grove, IL), grow the business with values of honesty and integrity. Love of the moldmaking trade is why Raimondi has stayed with the industry all these years. "I feel strongly about attracting young people to the industry," he remarked.

In addition to his regular job at Bales, Raimondi spends time promoting the trade, writing articles and technical papers, and leading webinars.

Vice President of Bales, Sara Mortensen, commented: "He's a pillar of the moldmaking community, not just in Chicagoland, but around the United States."

SPE mold designer of the year Chris Hanes has more than 250 molds under his belt

Chris Hanes, Engineering Manager for Micro Mold and Plastikos, a custom moldmaking and molding company in Erie, PA, earned a BS in Plastics Engineering Technology (PLET) from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Hanes began his career at Micro Mold on May 20, 1991, as a design engineer for the manufacturer of precision-engineered molds. "I started at the bottom, completing detailed drawings, making blueprints and assembly drawings," said Hanes. "I needed to prove myself capable before progressing into more demanding projects."

So why mold design? It relates back to that early passion Hanes had for learning how things are made. "Tooling was always more interesting to me than plastics processing," he commented. "I enjoy building something up from a basic idea."

Hanes worked his way into greater responsibilities in the design engineering department, until he became a lead mold designer. He led the mold design for a number of complex, precision molds for components such as an AMP connector, his first project; an insulin pump for a medical device customer; and a face mask for an aerospace and defense customer. The latter, said Hanes, was "the most difficult mold I ever designed."

Today, Hanes has designed more than 250 molds during the course of his career, and manages the engineering department and is responsible for the tooling engineering group. "Moving into management was a whole new ballgame," he stated. "There are many more demands on my time from multiple departments. Rather than focusing my attention on just one or two projects, I have to be focused on the much bigger picture," said Hanes.

Hanes has successfully implemented a number of continuous improvement initiatives at Micro Mold and Plastikos, including overseeing several end-of-arm tooling designs to mitigate part damage during mold ejection and exploring new ways to improve manufacturing efficiency while maintaining the highest standards of quality.

After 24 years (and counting), Hanes offers this advice to the next generation in the trade: "Be humble and realize that you will never know everything. Even after all these years, I realize just how much I don't know. College is a good foundation to a lifetime of learning, but if someone is willing to teach you something, listen and learn."

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