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Tech Mold develops in-mold serviceability to improve production efficiencies

Article-Tech Mold develops in-mold serviceability to improve production efficiencies

Today’s mold manufacturers are more than just "moldmakers." They are innovators of new technology that results from solving the unique challenges their customers bring them. Developing new technology requires working collaboratively with not only the customer but with other mold component suppliers to allow the mold manufacturer to turn possibilities into actualities.

Over the past four decades, Tech Mold Inc. ( has brought a number of new products and technologies into commercialization, some in conjunction with its customers and some through working with premier hot-runner system and mold component suppliers. Together, the company, its customers and supplier partners have worked to bring new solutions to old molding challenges.

"In-mold serviceability" offers a user-friendly mold design that provides a key technology upon which many of Tech Mold’s new developments are focused. It has become increasingly important to OEM customers because being able to reduce downtime by servicing molds in the press is critical in many of the high-cavitation molds used in the cap-and-closure and medical markets. In-mold Serviceability means that uptime is improved and maintenance can be done easily and safely.

“Let’s face it, the guy with the most marbles in his box at the end of the day wins,” comments Vince Lomax, VP of Tech Mold. “So it makes perfect sense to keep the molds in the press running all cavities with optimum cycles over millions of parts. However, in order to do this, one must have the ability to perform in-press service. This concept is one that is extremely important to OEMs and their molders, and we have been promoting this concept for quite some time. As a result we have developed intellectual property on some very unique mold designs that allows this in-mold serviceability.”

The technologies Tech Mold has developed that offer the ability service the mold without taking the mold out of the press include:

Syncro-Plate Valve Gate Actuation System: This unique concept was developed by Tech Mold working in concert with one of its major medical device OEM customers. The design was based on a similar system the customer had developed but had not proven. The patented Syncro-Plate Valve Gate Actuation System allows the synchronization of the valves, which means each valve opens and closes at the same time using mechanical action, thus avoiding the hydraulics that most medical product molders avoid due to the risk of part contamination. Another benefit of the Syncro-Plate Valve Gate Actuation System is that it allows the molder to shut off individual cavities to remove a bad valve pin and replace it in the mold, allowing In-Mold Serviceability, something that is extremely important to many OEMs that are focusing on productivity and efficiency.

Full Central Lube (LLA3): Another technology that Tech Mold developed for a medical device OEM customer, and is currently running at the customer’s plant. This technology is a lubrication system designed specifically for unscrewing rack molds, or for a mold that contains slides and other moving components that require consistent, continual lubrication. Tech Mold was recently told that a mold that it built using the Full Central Lube system has been running for almost a year without being shut-down for lubrication maintenance. Again, this technology was developed to meet the customer’s need for greater in-mold serviceability to reduce downtime, thereby achieving greater up-time of the mold in production.

Quick Disconnects: Developed by Tech Mold, they provide improved access to the Melt-Disk in molds using the Melt-Disk Hot Runner Technology from Mold-Masters LLC by placing connectors on the wiring. Simple disconnection of the wiring means easier maintenance of molds containing Melt-Disk technology. Simply disconnect the wiring, pull the Melt-Disk out and work on the system and reconnect the wires.

With the success of the Melt-Disk technology in medical components such as pipettes, syringe barrels, and needle shields in high-volume, high-cavitation medical molds, Tech Mold’s development of the Quick Disconnects proved to be an excellent solution to maintaining high productivity and ease of maintenance on molds up to 192 cavities that use a wide range of resins.

Modular Mold Design: Also called the ‘Pod’ design, it divides multicavity molds into individual sections that are actually “mini-molds” within the large mold. For example, a small medical component has eight Pods within the single mold base. Each Pod, acting as an individual mold, molds eight components using a center gate in each Pod. This allows the OEM to maintain the mold in the press for ease of maintenance and reducing down time. It also means that if one Pod needs to be replaced, the technician merely takes out one module and replaces it with a spare. Spares are typically built at the time of the mold build. For example, Tech Mold built a 192-cavity modular or "Pod mold" for one medical device OEM that contains 32 Pods and eight spares. When building a modular or Pod mold, it is something that needs to be considered from the outset. And larger molds take a larger press—another consideration for this technology.

“We recognize that mold technologies are constantly being innovated as mold component companies, hot runner and software developers continue their quest for ways to help mold makers and molders achieve higher and higher standards of quality and reduction in cycle times in conjunction with greater levels of production in higher cavitation molds,” says Lomax. “Tech Mold recognizes the importance of participating in the development of new technology in mold design and mold development. We understand how these new technologies can benefit both us as the mold manufacturer and our OEM customers, and helps us maintain our leadership role in the mold manufacturing industry. It’s been key to Tech Mold’s 40 years of success.”

You can visit with Tech Mold at MD&M/PLASTEC West (Booth #3169).

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