Canadian Plastics

Moldmakers Get First-Hand Look at Japanese Toolmaking Methods

Canadian Plastics   



A group of Windsor-area moldmakers took up the offer of mold machinery manufacturer Makino Inc. to visit Japan for a first-hand look at how Japanese toolshops are driving down build times for large-sized molds. One Japanese moldmaker on the tour,...

A group of Windsor-area moldmakers took up the offer of mold machinery manufacturer Makino Inc. to visit Japan for a first-hand look at how Japanese toolshops are driving down build times for large-sized molds. One Japanese moldmaker on the tour, KS Engineering, produces 140 to 200 molds per year. Approximately 60 of these molds are large-sized molds for instrument panels and fascias, according to Tony Facione, process engineer with Single Source Technologies, a Makino distributor based in Oldcastle, ON. In 2000, it took KS Engineering 13 weeks to build a tool for a fascia. Today the company is producing fascia molds in eight weeks, and the moldmaker’s target for 2006 is just under seven weeks from the release of the final data to first tryout. Since 1998, the company has reduced the cost of producing large tooling by 45%, and it is aiming to reduce cost by another 10% by 2006.

Canadian moldmakers discovered that much of KS Engineering’s success in reducing build times on large molds results from its ability to rough and finish these molds unattended. The company uses a completely automated set-up to rough tools on Makino horizontal machine centres at 600 ipm. Finishing is done on the same machines, also at 600 ipm.

“The main difference with these 4-axis machines is they not only provide superior cycle times and highly accurate finishing, but allow the ability to rough large tools reliably without watching,” says Facione. “The group also saw a new concept 5-axis Makino, designed in conjunction with Toyota, that will provide the same rigidity and flexibility as the 4-axis machines. This is totally unique for 5-axis machines sold into die/mold applications today.”

Canadian companies on the trip included Crest Mold Technology, B&B Tool & Mould, Windsor Mold, Build-A-Mold, Aar-Kel Moulds, Reko Tool & Mould, as well as Single Source Technologies.

Advertisement

Facione said the Japanese company is focusing on a new process, “Rib-head” technology, to bring mold lead times down even further. Rib-head technology allows a large Makino EDM to burn EDM ribs and small details significantly faster than most comparable equipment.

Facione said the entire group took a lot away from the experience:

“There has been a lot of talk in the industry about what type of tooling will stay in North America over the next 10 years, and many shops believe large tooling is a good place to focus. You can’t easily airfreight a 40,000 lb. tool.”

Advertisement

Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories