Finding quality injection mold making training is not as easy as it once was. When I was an apprentice, which was a long time ago, many states had an official program that worked together with employers and schools to produce qualified plastic injection mold makers and tool-and-die-makers.
These days it is hard to find real apprenticeship programs where you can learn on-the-job while attending school. Some technical colleges have excellent programs where students get a practical and theoretical education that truly prepares them for work in the industry.
Where are all the apprentices and what will happen when the old-timers retire? Now it the time to prepare for the future.
Plastic injection mold making training
MoldMakingResource.com is dedicated to helping individuals and companies to do a better job more efficiently and thus prosper in a very competitive environment. We have gathered some expert advice on mold making that will hopefully achieve our goals, and continue to add how-to articles regularly.
Here is a great video that explains how mold making matters and that your career can make a difference.
What is it like to run the wire EDM? This process requires the ability to multi-task and typically run several machines at the same time. Normally this is not such a problem, but some people find this confusing.
The “wire guy” needs to pay attention to every detail involved. WEDM is extremely accurate as a process, but demands exacting set-ups and procedure. Skipping any one step usually results in a scrapped workpiece.
Today’s specialization has resulted in more efficiency, but the trade-off is that cross training has suffered.
Precision surface grinding is the beginning and end of most injection mold making projects. This simple fact is somewhat overlooked and taken for granted, which helps explain why managers tend to neglect the grinding department.
Typically very mold component is precision ground at some point, whether it is ground flat and square on a CNC surface grinder, done on a manual grinder, sized on a cylindrical or Ded-Tru grinder, or Blanchard ground.
Finally, the exacting process of grooming, or fitting the mold normally involves precision surface grinding or jig-grinding. Inserts, cavities, cores, lifter and slides are all good candidates for grinding process.
Traits of a successful precision grinder are similar to other aspects of injection mold making. You need to be very focused and patient to do a good job. Many jobs require a degree of trigonometry and geometry in order to make the required grinding and inspection set-ups.
A steady hand, keen eye for detail and an unwillingness to settle for “almost” or “good enough” are prerequisites as well. Mold components can be very costly and often the grinding is the very last operation in the entire mold making process.
EDM is the mysterious black art of mold making, though nowadays it very technical and logical. Today’s CNC EDM’s are truly amazing machine tools, without which modern mold making would not exist.
The EDM operator is extremely detail oriented, conscientious and willing to manage multiple jobs simultaneously. EDM is scientific machining using a great deal of technology to control a somewhat uncontrollable process.
Mold polishing is perhaps the only operation that has not been able to be automated, other than precision surface grinding, which has some degree of CNC control involved.
When all the CNC machining, EDM machining, surface grinding, and wire EDM are completed, the mold polisher is the one who puts the final appearance on the molding surface. If the surface finish is wrong, everything else is for naught.
The man or woman who can quickly and efficiently hand polish a plastic injection mold is extremely valuable. They have an incredible ability to sit for hours staring into a microscope while rubbing away by hand or with an ultrasonic handpiece to obtain the required surface finish. Hats off the the mold polisher!
The guy who assembles the mold has to be adept at nearly every operation in the entire process. At least he needs to understand how it all works, how it was machined and what needs to be done to make it all fit together perfectly.
The mold assembler has to have a mechanical aptitude and be able to disassemble and reassemble a mold without damaging any components or omitting any small pieces. Some molds have hundreds of components, each one having a specific purpose, location and orientation.