MOLDMAKER’S PROFILE: Big molds, better
For the average molder on a pilgrimage to find a skilled, full-service, moldmaking shop, London, Ont. would perhaps rate as "flyover country"-- territory with little of interest -- on the way to that ...
For the average molder on a pilgrimage to find a skilled, full-service, moldmaking shop, London, Ont. would perhaps rate as “flyover country”– territory with little of interest — on the way to that moldmaking Mecca, Windsor. Yet, closer inspection by the savvy mold-buyer reveals that London has a small, but thriving moldmaking community containing a few hidden gems, one of which, Lamko Tool & Mold Inc., is situated directly on the main Toronto-Windsor artery, the highway 401.
Lamko has 40,000 sq. ft. of toolmaking floor space, 7,000 sq. ft. of office and 120 employees, with the capability to design and build molds up to 50 ton. Its specialty is medium to large molds used for plastic injection, compression and RIM molding for the automotive market; although it also supplies molds to the telecommunications, appliance and other commercial markets.
Lamko has been ISO 9001 certified since 1996, and in December of last year it became one of the first Canadian moldmakers to achieve certification to the QS 9000 Tooling and Equipment (TE) Supplement, which will eventually be required of all moldmakers supplying the automotive industry. The TE certification effort was spearheaded by Lamko’s quality manager, Max Boyachek.
One of the key features of the TE Supplement, says Boyachek, is the Reliabilty, Maintenance and Durability clause, which requires the moldmaker to track how a tool is performing with the customer and incorporate feedback into the quality procedures.
Lamko was founded in 1978 by the four Lam brothers (Kan, Mo, Fu and Tom ), all of whom are toolmakers themselves. According to Lamko’s business development manager Paul Van Meerbergen, one of the company’s core capabilities is managing large tool programs consisting of few to over 30 molds. It recently completed a tooling project for the Ford Expedition console consisting of 23 individual molds. The console, which is being molded in Mexico, had stringent fit and finish requirements. In the automotive market, Lamko has supplied molds for a wide-range of interior and exterior components. All molds are tested before shipment and Lamko will often send a team to a molder’s plant for a particular tool’s start-up.
Accoding to engineering manager Tony Palmieri the company’s design capabilities include a number of UNIX-based workstations and CAD/CAM software programs supporting NURBs, parametric design, solid modeling and IGES conversion. An inventory of some of the company’s key recently purchased moldmaking equipment includes a new Discovery CNC EDM with 5-axis CNC control, three other new CNC EDM machines, all with 406 Heidenhain 5-axis CNC control, a Cincinnati Milacron “Arrow” 750 CNC vertical machining centre, Toshiba, Dye and Parpas CNC milling machines, a 200 ton Verson spotting press and a host of other equipment.
Van Meerbergen says lead time requirements for molds continue to decrease; where once the benchmark for build time of a typical large mold was 26 to 30 weeks, it is now 16 to 18 weeks. Emphasis on cost has also gone up, notes Van Meerbergen, as the company is not only competing against other North American moldmakers, but also against moldmakers from Asia, South America and Europe. So far Lamko has held its own in the global arena; with steady growth, the company may be expanding in the near future, although plans have not been finalized.
“We’re a full-service shop.” says Van Meerbergen. “You don’t have to go all the way to Windsor to get a large, high-quality mold built.” CPL