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August 20, 1998

4 Min Read
Is there a doctor in the house?

Tycos Tool & Die of Concord, ON is a big moldmaker building big molds for big companies, like the Big Three. It uses hot runner temperature controllers with special fault analysis software called "Mold Doctor" to diagnose the performance of the hot runner systems in its big molds before shipment and before big problems can occur. "We're selling our customers a tool that we list for about $750,000," says Rick Saint, a Tycos Tool electrician. "It better work."

Saint explains that it's standard operating procedure at Tycos to duplicate actual press conditions on its molds before they're shipped so that customers can have the molds up and running with no hassles. As part of this procedure, the company wires the tool, connects it to the temperature controller, and brings it up to heat. That's when the Mold Doctor makes his house call. Tycos uses Mold Doctor and another software feature called Gammavision. Both are software packages in Tycos' Gammaflux 9500 controller. The software tests the performance of heaters and thermocouples in Tycos' hot runner systems, and then diagnoses failing heaters, wiring problems, and other errors like reversed thermocouples. It also analyzes temperature uniformity throughout the runnerless system. Tycos uses hot runner systems only from Kona.

Figure 1. Rick Saint of Tycos Tool & Die says that diagnostic hot runner control technology from Gammaflux helps improve confidence that Tycos' big automotive molds (like the one pictured here) with Kona hot runners can be up and running in no time and with no problems.


"Mold Doctor tests every aspect of the hot runner," Saint tells IMM. He says the Gammaflux controller has helped his company spot problems like ground faults in molds, which can adversely affect thermocouple readings. And it can even shut down a bad heater zone before the fuses blow when it detects heater faults. "It heats every zone to a low temperature and records wattage, timing, and amperage draw. It shows you that every heater is working as designed, and it's easy to use. It speaks to you in plain English and its touch screen lets you put your finger right on the problem. It also records all the test data. You can print it out, or copy the heating procedure to a disk, or send it to customers through the Internet. Our molds have to be right, or we run the risk of shutting down a JIT line."

Building Confidence And Trust

Tycos is a 40-year-old, $30- to $40-million maker of molds for large automobile parts like front and rear fascias, door panels, grilles, and IPs. Most of its molds are equipped for sequential valve gating. Selling largely through the top Tier Ones, it's a supplier to Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, Nissan, and Ford-Europe. Tycos shipped about 40 molds last year-molds weighing up to 84,000 lb.


Figure 2. Mold doctor fault analysis software in the Gammaflux controller lets moldmakers at Tycos know about big problems, like pinched and reversed thermocouples, before its big molds are shipped.

In its 100,000 sq ft of manufacturing space with 34.5-ft-high ceilings there are five bays with two cranes up to 40 tons in each bay. Tycos is looking to add 60-ton cranes. Fifty of its 140 employees are moldmakers, working 24-7 in two shifts. The plant is all CNC with a PC for programming cutter paths at every station. Ongoing capital investment into equipment like copy mills and 250-ton spotting presses has helped Tycos reduce its lead times from 36 weeks down to 20 weeks. It works mostly in P-20, and in kirksite for prototypes. Tycos expects to achieve QS 9000 around 4Q '98, but the company's devotion to quality and service is already well documented by awards from its customers on its lobby walls, including the GM Award For Excellence it received last year.

Saint says the decision to find a diagnostic hot runner controller was only indirectly customer driven-customers always expect more. Tycos, part of the Magna International group of companies, is not afraid to make investments. But, as in any company, costs have to be justified. Saint says both Ford and a good Canadian neighbor, Husky, recommended Gammaflux, and this greatly helped Tycos make its decision.

Tycos had experience with earlier models of Gammaflux controllers, including those that control up to 32 zones, but the 9500 model with Mold Doctor ware that it bought controls up to 100 zones, has a custom-built, industrial-strength, four-tier enclosure and cost about $70,000. "The Gammaflux controllers cost more, but they're worth it," Saint concludes. "Now we have the confidence that our molds will work and the documentation to back up that confidence."

Contact information

Contact information


Kona Hot Runners/Dynisco

Sterling, VA

Gloucester, MA

Lee P. Jones

Bruce Fishman

Phone: (703) 471-5050

Phone: (800) FOR KONA

Fax: (703) 689-2131

Fax: (978) 281-5882

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