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Providing guarantees on the molds they build has always been a conundrum for moldmakers. While many OEM customers want the moldmaker to guarantee his design and build, moldmakers have generally been reluctant to offer any real guarantee. Micro Mold Co., the mold manufacturing division of Plastikos Erie, a custom injection molding company in Erie, PA, believes that its team of moldmakers builds the best SPI 101+ tool in the plastics industry. Therefore, they are willing to back that with lifetime guarantee.

Clare Goldsberry

November 8, 2013

2 Min Read
Pros and cons of moldmakers guaranteeing molds

Providing guarantees on the molds they build has always been a conundrum for moldmakers. While many OEM customers want the moldmaker to guarantee his design and build, moldmakers have generally been reluctant to offer any real guarantee. Micro Mold Co., the mold manufacturing division of Plastikos Erie, a custom injection molding company in Erie, PA, believes that its team of moldmakers builds the best SPI 101+ tool in the plastics industry. Therefore, they are willing to back that with lifetime guarantee.

However, that lifetime (unlimited production) guarantee comes with some stipulations. The guarantee is for all qualifying Micro Mold designed and built SPI+ tools for the duration of the project's production life at Plastikos. Some of the molds built by Micro Mold and run at Plastikos have been running for nearly 30 years, and have hundreds-of-millions of cycles on them "and counting," noted Philip Katen, president and GM of Plastikos.

By limiting their guarantee to molds designed and built by Micro Mold, and run at Plastikos' molding facility, Micro Mold is assured that the molds are processed properly and taken care of through a regular preventative maintenance (PM) program.

That's always been one of the drawbacks to mold guarantees: moldmakers typically release the molds to the purchasers' molding plant or to a molded parts supplier, thereby losing control of how the mold is treated during processing. Additionally, the moldmaker can't be assured that the mold is under a good maintenance program or is receiving proper repairs.

A few mold companies that I've talked with have PM plans in place that allows the OEM or the molder to bring the molds in for regular, routine maintenance. Some charge a set annual fee for their maintenance program with any repairs required done at a 'time and materials' charge.

Currently the standard SPI 101 warranty stands at one million cycles, noted Plastikos, with Katen only being aware of one plan longer than that standard - a warranty of 10 years with unlimited production. However, most mold buyers tend to use the SPI industry mold classifications for estimating the expected life and performance of a mold based on the corresponding design and manufacturing requirements.

OEMs often want a warranty from the mold manufacturer and some are making it part of the contractual arrangement in order for the moldmaker to get the business. However, when the moldmaker has no control over the mold - including how the mold is maintained or treated in processing - once it leaves their facility, it's tough to provide a warranty.

Today's molds are complex pieces of machinery designed and built to meet the OEM's requirements, and while most mold manufacturers stand behind their work, warranties are still not the norm.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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