Canadian Plastics

Quick Delivery Becomes Commonplace

By Cindy Macdonald, associate editor   

Faster delivery is not the only benefit of the variety of "quick-delivery" programs offered by virtually every hot runner manufacturer these days....

Faster delivery is not the only benefit of the variety of “quick-delivery” programs offered by virtually every hot runner manufacturer these days.

“The hot runner used to be one of the first things you ordered, because of the delivery times,” recalls Joe Lang of Synventive Molding Solutions. “Now, you can wait until the mold design is more solidified.” The benefit of ordering later in the design process is that it reduces the need for concurrent engineering, and can cut down on engineering changes.

In addition, mold shops that receive their hot runner drawings within a day or two (as is generally the case with quick-delivery programs) can kick off the ordering of other mold components as well.

There’s often a financial benefit to using these programs, too. Many suppliers offer their quick-delivery products at a slightly lower cost than custom-designed hot runner systems. They can offer the cost savings because the quick-delivery programs are often the result of a streamlined and automated manufacturing process.


While the details of the various programs vary, it’s the overall trend that is indicative of a marked change in the business. Where six to eight weeks was once standard, now two to three weeks is expected and regularly achieved.

Synventive has just announced the Kona XPress program, which promises two-week delivery for custom hot runner systems. “Faster hot runner system lead times and deliveries continue to be of primary importance to our customers,” says Bill Hume, president of Synventive North America. “Moldmakers and end users are demanding customized systems — not just off-the-shelf units — in less time.”


“Mold shops have honed in on speed-to-market as one way to get clients to choose one shop over another, and the hot runner guys need to support that,” explains Patrick Bennett, vice-president sales and marketing, Mold-Masters Ltd.

“Ten years ago, piles of work-in-process pieces were a symbol of how busy the mold shop was. That’s not the symbol of success anymore,” he adds.

Quick-delivery programs at the major hot runner manufacturers are not about scrambling, overtime, and shuffling work-in-process jobs so that one rush order can go out quickly. They are about getting every order out quickly and efficiently, using a systematic, highly automated process.

At Mold-Masters, for example, Bennett explains that each MasterSPEED hot runner is designed by automated routines in the CAD program. No design engineer is necessary. Automated routines also generate the CAM programming, so that an order is ready to hit the production floor within a matter of hours. “Our upfront investment in programming has allowed us to achieve that,” says Bennett.

Mold-Masters’ online design interface, Merlin, acts as the front-end system and interfaces with the CAD system for design and with SAP for manufacturing and resource planning. There’s little staff effort for production planning.

“That’s how we get the price advantage and the time advantage,” says Bennett. “MasterSPEED is about how we can re-engineer some aspects of our business, so that, without it costing us more, we can produce hot runners more quickly.”

Another benefit to the automation of simple tasks is that if frees engineering resources to work on more complex tasks. “Now we can routinely take on custom designs in a two- to three- to four-week window,” says Bennett.

Similarly, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. is applying lean manufacturing and Six Sigma practices at its hot runner manufacturing facilities in Vermont, Luxembourg and Shanghai. “CAD/CAM automation tools eliminate routine tasks, allowing our engineers and programmers to focus on their core competencies, including thermal profile optimization, melt channel optimization and minimizing machining times,” says Martin Baumann, sales and marketing manager, hot runners, at Husky.

Even smaller hot runner manufacturers can promise much quicker deliveries than in the past. Joachim Neumann, president of J-Tech Hot Runner, promises that “from the day details are approved by the customer, J-Tech can deliver a custom hot-half or mold components within three weeks.”

J-Tech is now the Canadian representative for Yudo hot runners. Based in South Korea, Yudo is one of Asia’s largest hot runner systems suppliers.


Synventive’s Hume notes that “the pressure has been on hot runner suppliers to find ways to continually shorten delivery times while still offering as customized a system as possible.” Although the options within quick-delivery systems are not limitless, they do amply cover most hot runner applications.

Husky’s Pronto hot runners, for example, are available in 2-, 4- and 8-drop configurations. Details such as pitch, L-dimension, plate sizes, nozzles and gating styles are flexible.

D-M-E’s Stellar program offers configurations with up to 16 drops and meets a 10-day delivery for hot half systems with a custom nozzle plate thickness.

Synventive’s Joe Lang estimates that about 80% of Synventive’s client’s applications can be met by the company’s Kona XP line.

Complex systems such as 32- and 64-drop systems, and stack molds, however, are not likely candidates for any kind of automated, quick-delivery program.


While hot runner suppliers were not willing to say what volume of sales goes through the quick-delivery channel, Mold-Masters’ Bennett did say “a very substantial portion” of the company’s orders go through the MasterSPEED program.

D-M-E’s Ken Kurtz says the programs are gaining fans. “There has been an increasing proportion of our business directed to quick-delivery systems. As soon as we launch new quick-delivery products, they take right off.”



Combining advanced software and machining capabilities with quick-delivery hot runner and mold components, moldmaker Cadmold has positioned itself as a fast, high-volume shop. The company aims to build production tooling in about two weeks.

“Our business model is to be a volume mold builder that can aggressively compete on price and delivery,” says Michael Britt, vice-president of engineering. “Volume work has two advantages: it helps offset the loss of margin, and it keeps our shop busy, excited and highly tuned.”

Cadmold, based in Sarasota, FL, turns our 200 to 220 molds per year with a staff of 85.

A heavy user of AutoCAD, Cadmold makes good use of the CAD libraries on D-M-E’s web site. “It’s a real time-saver to avoid recreating these databases,” explains Britt. “We download the D-M-E database, combine it with our own, and go straight out to the CNC code. For each D-M-E component where we do this, we save several hours, and if you multiply that by 200 molds per year, it has a significant impact on our performance.”

Cadmold also turns to D-M-E’s quick-delivery hot runners to cut lead times.

Expertise with solid modelling, solid machining and 3D databases is also a critical aspect of Cadmold’s strategy. “The key to our speed is the way we use these technologies to their maximum potential in our shop processes,” says Britt.


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