The Advantage of Using Copper and Graphite Electrodes

When it comes time to decide whether to use graphite or copper electrodes in your shop, it’s important to look at the big picture. According to Stu Haley, regional manager of Madison Heights, MI-based Belmont Technologies, Inc., a provider of EDM supplies, tooling, accessories and machines, “To say which electrode works best is very difficult, it is totally applications-driven. So much depends on what you have to work with on your shop floor in the way of support equipment. Both copper and graphite provide approximately the same end result. The difference is time to EDM the work and electrode manufacturing time and cost.”

Haley explains that choosing an electrode material is often a result of where you were born and what type of EDM equipment you use. “For example, graphite was basically developed in the United States back in the early 1960s, so the American EDM equipment manufacturers in those days concentrated on the graphite circuitry when designing their equipment,” he says. “Whereas, since the European and Asian EDM equipment manufacturers didn’t have access to graphite, they developed copper circuitry.

“If you have newer equipment built after 1990, the electrode material of choice in North America is graphite,” he adds. “This is used in 90 percent of the applications. In Europe and Asia, graphite is becoming more popular as an electrode material because of availability, machinability, and speed of cutting.” Following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each material so that you can decide which is best for your application.



Advantages and Benefits

Sold by grades, graphite cuts approximately three times faster than copper, according to Haley. “What makes a good grade or a poor grade is particle size,” he explains. “Particle size gives you strength, machinability and greatly influences the metal removal rate, wear, and the surface finish. Graphite is made up of carbon particles that are put through a graphitizing process to produce graphite. The smaller the particle size is, the better the graphite. Particle sizes in different grades of graphite can be .0006″ for general-purpose use to .00004” for the extremely fine detail and superior surface finishes. Graphite can be purchased in big blocks, and then cut up to be machined, or it can be ordered precut or ground into the size you require.

“Graphite machines very easily – you can mill it, grind it, turn it, drill it, tap it, even file it to whatever shape you want,” Haley continues. “Another advantage of graphite is that it doesn’t burr. You can put it on a duplicating machine or a graphite high-speed mill and cut out complex shapes and forms, and once it’s cut you are finished – with no deburring.”


Graphite Electrodes



If mold maker has the older fabricating equipment, machining graphite electrodes will result in dust particles on the shop floor and in the nearby machines. However, the new high-speed mills that are sold today are specially designed to machine graphite. “They are totally enclosed and have a vacuum system to remove all of the dust,” Haley points out, “and there are some machines that can even cut square internal corners.”




Advantages and Benefits

Haley notes that copper can be cut on wire EDM machines, but there are only certain graphites that can be cut on a wire machine – the particle size should be five microns or less. Copper also is a little more forgiving in a poor flush situation than graphite. “In EDM, if the flush doesn’t remove the eroded particles or chips out of the cutting area, there’s something that can occur where you get a non-pulsating, direct flow of current from the electrode to the workpiece,” Haley explains. “The result of this is a pit in the workpiece. Copper is more forgiving in those applications – all metallic electrodes are – they won’t arc out as fast.  But some of the newer EDM power supplies have adaptive logic or fuzzy logic, which eliminates the problem altogether. Copper – when used in specific settings with the correct flushing techniques using a CNC machine or a machine with an orbiting system – can produce a mirror-like surface finish. This is useful in small cavities where it is difficult to polish.”




“Copper is more difficult to machine,” says Haley, “and when you mill it, it has the tendency to stick to the cutter. When you grind it, it can clog up the grinding wheel – it heats up quickly and has a tendency to grab the grinding wheel. You’ll have burrs no matter how you machine it, so you have to deburr it. Size and weight also can be an issue. A 12″ x 7″ x 2 3/4” piece of copper weighs 75 pounds, whereas a piece of graphite the same size is 11 pounds.

“The bottom line uses what you think will work best in your shop with the equipment that you have available,” Haley continues. “If some electrodes are beyond your machining ability, have someone make them for you. You have to base it on your own experience and the resources you have available. Ask for suggestions from the equipment manufacturer or from your electrode material supplier. Regardless of what electrode material or combination of materials you decide on, be sure that you know the speeds and feeds to machine the material safely. When in doubt, ask.”


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Activity Levels Show Improvement of US Mold Makers

Most of the major economic indicators released at the end of 2007 signaled weaker business conditions for the U.S. manufacturing sector, but activity levels for North American mold builders bucked this trend and showed some improvement in recent weeks. Our Mold Business Index (MBI) for December is 53.7. This is a 7.2-percentage point increase from the November value of 46.5. Increases were registered in the core New Orders, Production, Employment, and Backlog components. The bad news came in the form of longer Supplier Delivery Times and higher Materials Prices. The Future Expectations held firm at 66.7 in December.

Orders for new molds increased ever-so-gradually during the second half of 2007. Growth during the first half of 2008 is expected to be sluggish,
but momentum is expected to build in the second half of the year.

The probability that the U.S. economy will soon fall into a recession has risen in recent weeks. However, we still believe the most likely scenario is that overall economic growth will decelerate, but remain positive through the first half of 2008. This means that total demand for new molds and tooling will remain very close to the current level in the first and second quarters of this year before growing more steadily in the second half of 2008. The downside risks to this forecast are the unpredictability of the crude oil market and the ongoing struggles in the residential construction sector. If energy prices remain at their current elevated levels, then the chances of a near-term recession in the U.S. economy increase significantly.
The American mold makers will benefit from the low value of the U.S. dollar versus the other major currencies throughout 2008, while the Canadian mold makers will remain pressured by the exchange rate situation. The current deceleration in the U.S. economy notwithstanding, global demand for plastics products is growing and capacity utilization rates for the plastics industry remain at a strong level.
The sub-index for New Orders of molds registered 58.3 in December, which means that overall new business was significantly higher when compared with the previous month. Future gains in the total MBI depend on continuing increases in new orders of molds. Production levels also escalated, as the latest Production sub-index was 63.9. The Employment component was 58.3, which means that there was a rise in overall payrolls last month. The Backlog component was higher at 52.8 in December.

Improving a Family Molding Program

Speed, flexibility and consistent part quality are the buzzwords for staying competitive in the cost-conscious American large automotive plastics molding marketplace.

When an MI-based corporation – a major automotive trim manufacturer – chose to upgrade its hot runner systems, it turned to Peabody, MA-based Synventive Molding Solutions as its partner because of the technological advantage that next generation smart molding systems could offer. Seeking to benefit from the ability to produce automotive trim parts at high speed with exceptional finish quality and part-to-part consistency, the company invested in Synventive Dynamic Feed hot runners to achieve a competitive technical and processing edge. Furthermore, the molder was able to successfully implement a family mold that produces separate and distinct parts, parts that exhibit exceptional dimensional stability and consistency – a target that the company struggled with until a smart molding system was used to process them.

Starting Up

In June of 2000, the entire plastics world invaded Chicago, IL – specifically the McCormick Place – to attend the National Plastics Exposition. At the show, Synventive unveiled the Dynamic Feed smart molding system, creating lots of interest in a hot runner system that brings incredible levels of control and accuracy to the injection molding process. Engineering managers at this automotive trim molder were very interested in the new technology. In fact, they were among the first customers to see a presentation on smart molding, and ultimately ordered five complete systems from Synventive in the summer of 2001.

The Dynamic Feed hot runner system is a proven technology that delivers unprecedented levels of control to the processor, offering molders the ability to individually control the fill and pack rates at each gate of a multicavity or family mold, or at each individual gate in a large multigated mold. The key to the control of this smart hot runner technology is that the control is in the hot runner nozzle, allowing molders to control the entire shot process with a closed-loop, real-time controller. Unlike machine optimization or mold balancing systems that seek to control elements other than the actual injection molding process, smart molding gives processors control of the very heart of the injection molding process.

After running a detailed internal return on investment analysis of the system, the company could see that a smart molding system offered the company a clear competitive advantage. The new technology was ordered on a tight timetable that gave Synventive just six weeks to deliver. In addition to the tight delivery schedule, Synventive needed to train the molder’s people in the optimal use and operation of smart molding technology.

Molding Challenges

According to the trim tooling manager at this automotive parts molder, the goal was to gain a speed and quality advantage in the marketplace with a hot runner system that had a quick setup time with excellent part-to-part consistency. The company turned to Synventive for those answers when it initiated this family molding program.

The Michigan firm planned to use the Dynamic Feed systems to help mold automotive instrument panel shrouds, a job that integrated several complicated elements into the mold. Its mold builder, Delta Tooling of Auburn Hills, MI, supplied the family mold for the project. The mold contained fine detailed elements plus a second molding operation to overmold a different color material onto the part. The family mold for the instrument panel shroud featured a small panel accent on the right side and a larger panel accent on the left side, with a cutout for an air conditioner vent. In addition, the shroud has a contrasting color accent molded onto it. The technical issue with the mold was how to manage the three-to-one ratio difference in shot weights for each of the accent panels, a situation where the machine must seal off the part in the mold to create a parting line with the overmolding process.

With the seal-off measuring just three eighths of an inch where normal injection molding standards are typically three inches or more, coupled with the complexity of dissimilar sized parts being molded simultaneously, it was clear that standard hot runner technology was not going to offer the speed and accuracy that the company desired. The molding process to manufacture the instrument shroud is very precise to ensure quality and cavity sizes, plus the seal-off tolerances meant that it was essential for the processor to have finite control of the injection fill and pack profiles of the cycle. This was even more essential due to the seal-off tolerances; any overshot and the entire part would be ruined. Similar to a waffle iron with too much batter in it that spills all over the countertop, the mold seal will blow if the mold is overshot, requiring a very precise injection molding process. The entire process took place in a family mold, also adding to the complexity of the molding process.

Synventive Molding Solutions recommended a Dynamic Feed system based on the need for precision and due to the dissimilar sized accent panels being molded. That ruled out using a more conventional sequential valve-gated system, because of the need to balance the mold parameters and the injection molding process so precisely.

Going Online

Before the program could begin, Synventive and Delta Tooling needed to test the molding process and machinery to assure their client that the hot runner system and the family mold would work as advertised. The two firms tested the systems and mold at Delta’s test center, where the two companies had a short learning curve implementing the new smart molding technology and family mold. The focus of the testing was on start-up procedures, which proved to be easily mastered. Moreover, the testing allowed for the complex family mold to be dialed in by the Synventive and Delta technicians, who could adjust the rate of fill and pack pressures needed to create dimensionally stable, top quality parts cycle after cycle. Most importantly, the test site allowed the Synventive team to bring together the injection molding machines, the family mold, the smart molding system and the plastic material suppliers under one roof to get a real world construct of how the program would ultimately come together. All parties at the site were very pleased with the consistency and repeatability of the smart molding process.

Meanwhile, the Synventive team was working overtime to make sure the Dynamic Feed systems would be delivered on time and to specification. The order was met by coordinated efforts in Peabody with the engineering and manufacturing staff. And, although the timing was tight and Synventive and Delta had to put in long hours to make it happen – including training the molder’s operators on using the system at the plant – Synventive was able to deliver the systems on time and on-spec to their customer.

Up and Running

Smart molding technology was immediately embraced by the plant personnel. “Exceptional” is how the engineers describe the Dynamic Feed system, noting, “It’s a processor controller on steroids.”

The quality and repeatability of the system – the driver for purchasing the hot runner system – proved to be exactly what the company desired. While the press speed and cycle times remained mostly the same, the flexibility and the part-to-part quality of the automotive instrument shroud program was something that engineers say is “… a new level of sophistication for the industry that really narrows the processing window.” Due to the overwhelming response to the smart molding technology, which the molder feels has placed the company about twelve months ahead of other automotive trim manufacturers, the company has ordered more systems and plans to have three separate platforms running with Dynamic Feed in the near future. While currently producing about 250,000 parts a year with its Dynamic Feed systems, the company expects to rapidly increase these numbers in 2003. In fact, plant managers across the company are clamoring for systems of their own, due to the success that the Tennessee plant is experiencing with smart molding technology.

The trim molder also has expanded its technology partnership with Synventive Molding Solutions, finding more programs and products that can be run with smart molding to drive family molding opportunities, plus retrofitting Dynamic Feed to existing molds to drive quality enhancements on these products

Software Technology Trends Enhance Moldmaking Industry

The primary driving force in NC software is to improve user productivity by producing software that is easier to learn and use, more automated and more tightly integrated with design software. This includes support of enhanced user interfaces, integrated surface and solid modeling, improved customization and integration tools, support of high-speed machining and knowledge-based machining, shop floor programming, and improved techniques to communicate, collaborate and manage information up and down a supply chain.
According to a recent worldwide study of moldmakers, the most important CAM software function was found to be strong three-axis milling. This was followed in order by strong roughing, integration with design software, a Windows-compliant user interface, associativity between design and NC, integrated toolpath verification and an effective post processor generator with supporting libraries. Within three-axis milling, the most significant features cited by users in order of importance were support of high-speed milling, effective gouge avoidance, user programming flexibility, automatic re-machining of uncut areas and machining over non-manifold surfaces.

NC Software Trends and Observations

As manufacturers re-evaluate their operations, software vendors also must reassess their priorities and place even greater emphasis on a strong programming strategy that focuses on improved user productivity. More specific NC software trends and observations include the following:

Software Breadth

The breadth of software that is provided by any given supplier continues to increase to meet the broader need of manufacturers. Therefore, opportunities for one vendor to augment installed products from another vendor have decreased. Major CAD/CAM vendors have a broad product line, often filled with third-party products.

Evolution to a New Technology Base

Many companies that have provided NC software over an extended period of time have produced totally new technology systems.

Process Focused

Software is evolving from the use of basic instructions – e.g., draw a line or create a fillet – to process automation.

Design Data Analysis

Some companies provide an analysis function to examine incoming electronic models for non-manifold conditions and for analyzing design data for manufacturability. The software detects overlapping surfaces, surfaces left out, twisted surfaces, gaps, holes, negative draft angles and undercuts.

Support of STL Files

Stereolithography tessellation language (STL), refers to the presentation of 3-D forms as boundary representation solid models constructed entirely of triangular facets. The complete definition is based on a triangle.

Importance of Speed

Speed in toolpath generation and efficient toolpaths to provide speed in machining is becoming increasingly important. As most products now have adequate functionality, speed can be more important than new functionality.

Software Automation

Greater software automation is being provided throughout a product. With the continuing demand for ease of use and increased productivity, greater automation is being embedded into all aspects of a product, from the user interface to the post processors. The software is doing more and the user is doing less.

Solid Design, Import and Machining

Solid-based design is not new. The concept was developed in the mid-1980s and became popular in the late 1980s. Major CAD/CAM vendors soon came out with solid-based design systems. Currently, most CAM software vendors now support, in one way or another, design, import and direct machining of solid models. Typically, the solid models are tessellated and machining is done on the tessellated model. Working with solid models is clearly the wave of the future.

Knowledge-Based Machining

Automation has been extended to that of knowledge-based machining (KBM). KBM is becoming a well-recognized technology. It is the centerpiece technology for implementation of semi-automatic and automatic generation systems. Moldmakers surveyed believe that KBM will increase programming productivity and consistency, and will result in an improved quality of product.

Automatic Feature Recognition

Automatic feature recognition (AFR) software can be used to examine a model, determine which features exist, and extract the features for subsequent processing. AFR can be an important component in KBM. This function allows CAM software to identify similar shapes and geometric features quickly in a part model.

Machining on Triangular Facets

In multi-surface machining, some vendors provide an option to machine on the true surfaces or solids, while most other vendors convert the part into a tessellated model and machine on the facetted model.

Support of High-Speed Machining

Software support of high-speed machining is becoming mandatory in mold and die machining. Most shops now employ this technique. The software to support this technology must provide for fast and efficient transfer of data, smooth tool movement that minimizes any sudden change in direction, a constant chip load to maximize the life of the cutter, and those machine tool features necessary to produce gouge free, high surface finish parts. Surfaces must be tangent without gaps or overlaps. Machining is sometimes done on the actual surfaces as opposed to tessellated surfaces to obtain a quality output. However, it should be pointed out that quality problems sometimes occur with high-speed machining. The material can overheat, cracks can develop and the material can move.

NURBS Interpolation

NURBS interpolation or spline machining is one of numerous functions that are appropriate for high-speed machining. In spline machining, machining of a curved surface is carried out as a series of B-splines or NURBS curves, rather than the traditional method of generating a series of straight lines or arcs between a set of points. The equation of the spline can be supplied to the controller, thereby reducing the amount of data transfer.

The advantages of spline machining are that the tolerance stack-up that occurs when splines are fitted to straight line cutter paths is minimized, tool movements are more consistent – which reduces dwell marks – the file size is typically reduced by approximately 50 percent and fewer points are required to define a curve. In essence, NURBS interpolation typically results in shorter cycle times, smaller programs, more accurate parts and better surface finishes.

Feedrate Optimization

Typically, high-speed machining is accomplished with very small axial cut depths in order to achieve good surface finish and avoid damage to the cutter, workpiece or spindle. Feedrate optimization software can be employed to achieve better cutting efficiency with greater axial depths at the high feedrates of HSM and protect the cutter, etc., in those few places where the chipload momentarily increases. Constant-chipload toolpaths allow optimum use of the cutter’s strength and the machine’s speed and power. The software detects conditions where the chipload is too great and adjusts the feedrate to a more reasonable level. It then returns the machine to the higher feedrate when the chipload permits.

Re-Machining of Uncut Material

Re-machining of uncut material in three-axis milling is an important automation technique in mold and die machining. It is now available from most vendors targeting this market. The software typically locates uncut material left behind from a previous cut, places a boundary around the area, and displays the area of uncut material. Determining where the material is left is either done by examining the previous tool used relative to the model or by generating an in-stock model. The software also may suggest the appropriate tool size to fully remove the material. The software automatically generates a toolpath to remove only the uncut material, as opposed to re-machining the entire area. Re-machining can be applied to either roughing or finishing operations.

More Three-Axis Milling Strategies

Vendors continue to add optional three-axis milling strategies. For example, recently introduced strategies include:

Interleaved toolpaths in which the software automatically puts one type of toolpath in the open areas of another.
Helical machining that circles an object like peeling a potato.
Trochordal toolpath in which overlapping circles are half on and half off the material.
A projecting toolpath in which a toolpath is aimed from a point or line in space.

Combination Cuts

The use of combination cuts is being used in mold and die machining software. Molds and dies often have steep and flat areas. As such, it may be desirable to cut these two areas with different machining strategies in one or two toolpaths. A downside to machining in a single toolpath is that the same cutting tool is required for both strategies, and this is often not appropriate. In any event, the software should be able to separate flat areas from steep areas based on a specified angle. They can then be machined with two different strategies.

More Stepover Options

One software vendor has become an industry leader in providing a variety of stepover options; of particular note are its 3-D equidistant, maximum on part and the view direction stepover options. In the 3-D equidistant stepover, a stepover distance is measured on the surface of a part as compared to a plane above the surface. The maximum on part and view direction options appear to be unique. The maximum on part stepover is appropriate when machining between two non-parallel contours. The view direction stepover is particularly appropriate for machining of vertical walls.

Five-Axis Machining

Simultaneous five-axis machining has been used forever in aerospace applications and turbine blade manufacture. However, its use in mold making is expected to increase, as it is replacing the use of three-axis milling in some situations. This is occurring because the price of five-axis machines is declining, the number of setups can be reduced, and newer five-axis software is more effective. In a survey of moldmakers, nearly 65 percent of worldwide moldmakers stated that their use of five-axis machines would increase, while only 35 percent believed that their use would remain steady.

Reverse Engineering

Software designed to support reverse engineering has emerged. The software must be able to:

Accept a cloud of points produced by a scanner.
Edit the points to eliminate stray points and smooth the model.
Tessellate the points into triangles, merge and blend the data into a CAD model.
Generate surfaces from the points.
Edit and modify the surfaces to create a new part design.

Most reverse engineering can be done without making a prototype. A CMM machine and CAD/CAM software can be used to capture the geometry of a part, visualize it in 3-D form, carry out design changes, test it for engineering performance and simulate its manufacturing and inspection cycles.

Integrated Verification and Post Processing

Verification software and post processing are being integrated with toolpath generation. The user often operates with Windows open to toolpath verification and generation concurrently on the screen. This permits quick movement back and forth between the functions. The effect of toolpath changes can be viewed almost instantaneously. Also, the integration of the post processor into the toolpath generation module is becoming more common.

Third-Party Products

All vendors are increasing their product breadth, often through the licensing of third-party products. Each vendor must define and establish the core elements that are strategic to them. Within the strategic circle, products are usually internally developed. Outside the strategic circle, third-party products are often licensed. CAM vendors often obtain post processor generators and/or NC verification and simulation packages from third-party vendors. This has evolved into a significant sub-market.

STEP-Driven Manufacturing

The concept of STEP-driven manufacturing or STEP-NC is defined as the process of utilizing an unambiguous, neutral, computer-interpretable electronic digital representation to effectively communicate among dissimilar CAD/CAM/CAE/PDM systems and produce timely, cost-effective manufacture of quality products. The STEP-NC system allows CNC machines to be controlled by product design data. It captures and builds on knowledge already in the part mold.

The intent is to define industry standard manufacturing features in the STEP intermediary CAD file format, and then enable the controlling devices on manufacturing machines to read these features for more efficient part generation with NC machines and dynamic re-planning. In essence, one sends a CAD file directly to a controller, bypassing the NC programming function.

Full Automation

Ultimately, CAM software will run completely automated and unattended, converting part models into G-Code programs for machine tools. By using KBM concepts to embed machining intelligence into the CAM software, it will be possible for the software to automatically select the machining processes, speeds and feeds, and cutting tools, and then automatically create the final G-Code program. The software will be able to learn from experts in each shop their preferred methods for manufacturing different parts and then apply these techniques for the programming of subsequent parts.

3-D Mill Software Brings Mold Maker Up to Speed

When many mold makers decided to shop around for a new software package, it had some specific goals in mind. “We wanted to make sure that we met our deadlines and were able to use 3-D surfacing to reduce the number of electrodes needed,” states Vice President from a plastic injection mold maker /molder for the medical, defense, electronics, consumer and automotive industries for 25 years – chose TekSoft Inc.’s (Scottsdale, AZ) ProCAM 3-D mill software because of its user-friendliness and ability to meet the company’s needs.


Software Solution

In a nutshell, ProCAM simplifies the process of taking parts from design to manufacturing, reports TekSoft Marketing Manager Dennis Roberson. “Developed specifically for mechanical parts, ProCAM’s Windows interface and CAD tools allow parts to be modeled quickly and easily,” Roberson says. “Each CAM module provides intuitive methods for fast and efficient toolpath creation.”


Surfacing drastically reduced costs on this mold for a medical OEM by allowing features such as arcs, bosses and threads to be machined.


The program allows the operator to create and machine parts for each specific machining requirement. Simple or complex parts can be machined using the program’s wireframe and surface modeling tools, and parts can be imported using translators for popular file formats such as IGES, Parasolid, DWG, and DXF. “The results are accurate, error-free CNC programs for virtually any two- through five-axis mill, multi-axis turn, punch, plasma/laser and wire EDM machine,” Roberson states. “Plus, the software is available in a variety of configurations, so you can purchase exactly what you need now and add to your system as your business grows.”


The program has a number of capabilities that make a user’s job easier. SWM is especially pleased with the program’s surface modeling and surface machining features that allow the user to complete a job more efficiently and accurately. According to TekSoft’s Roberson, the program supports multiple surface creation methods like swept, ruled, plane, offset, the surface of revolution, four-curve, three-curve, constant and variable radius fillet, complex surface and two-surface blend. Plus, these surfaces can be easily manipulated.


The surface machining capabilities use algorithms for the latest toolpath and gouge protection methods of cutting surfaces; generates tool paths for fast, error-free surface cutting over single or composite surfaces using ball, flat endmill and hog nose tools; uses slice cutting to provide continuous machining across multiple surfaces for finishing and semi-finishing; and reduces production time by allowing the scallop height or step-over to be user-defined.


Efficient Operations

All of this adds up to smooth sailing for mold makers ,A recent job for a medical OEM customer is a prime example of the surfacing capabilities possible with the software. According to Schweppe, there were several complex details where arcs, bosses, threads and other features were tied together with fillets and angles. Surfacing drastically reduced cost by allowing several of these features to be machined on one electrode. “Some of these areas could not have been accomplished by conventional machining,” she explains. “The number of electrodes and successive burns were reduced and the quality of the finished product was greatly improved. Once programming is complete, it allows us to employ unattended machining strategies. Our customer was very pleased with the end result.”


An automotive OEM has just begun its first production run using a tool produced by mold maker. Again, the extensive use of surfacing allowed several features to be incorporated on one electrode or – in some cases – directly machined into cavity and core inserts, completely eliminating the EDM process. “This reduced production costs, manufacturing time and provided an additional level of product quality,” Schweppe notes.


“Every year TekSoft makes a fair amount of improvements and we are able to capitalize on these improvements and improve our molds,” Schweppe comments. “We can do our work a lot more efficiently and quickly. There is so much more to it that we haven’t even done that we want to be able to get into. We need to get more of our people familiar with the software and find the time to delve into it more.


“In some of our operations, we are able to take a program and send it down to the EDM and CNC machines, where they are able to do the processes much more quickly because of the way the information is presented,” she continues. “And we are able to take on more projects because the EDM and CNC work – which is so time-consuming yet so crucial to our work – takes less time now and we are able to run the machines unattended. This also allows us to use less manpower.”

Injection Mold Manufactuer Welcome New Technologies

In order to produce save costs and time in the process of plastic injection molding and improve production efficiency of injection mold, mold manufacturers increasing use of new materials and new technologies, and these new materials and new technologies in a certain extent, represent plastic injection mold manufacturing a new trend.
New material to promote the development of mold inserts

There is a new material can reduce the mold manufacturer’s investment cost and time. The new cobalt-chromium alloy, called MP1, specifically for the Rapid Prototyping (RP) device, a direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process was developed. The material from the German rapid prototyping equipment and materials suppliers EOS (ElectroOpticalSystems) GmbH company. Now users in North America and the United States through the EOS of North America MorrisTechnologies companies to buy such material.

MorrisTechnologies is an injection mold development company, this company the first time, the materials used in commercial manufacturing. In the company’s use of the process, the cobalt-chromium alloy has been shown to have high strength, high temperature performance and corrosion resistance. MorrisTechnologies was the U.S. introduction of the first EOS’s EosintM-level rapid prototyping machine company, because at that time the company had foreseen DMLS-based rapid prototyping huge market. However, experiments found that when the market still do not have a lot of material to meet their customer’s application requirements.

“There are many projects require rapid prototyping solutions, but the experimental conditions, our customers need for materials with better high temperature and corrosion resistance and higher mechanical properties.” MorrisTechnologies the company’s president GregMorris said, “even if it took more time and money, stainless steel or other alloys still can not meet their requirements. ”

In order to address these issues, MorrisTechnologies has selected EOS of cobalt-chromium MP1 material. Morris said that the alloy Rockwell hardness of 30 to 40 between the mold to produce a small complex products, these products are now typically used or EDM machining method to create.

Because the structure of this material layer is very thin, only 20μm, so products can be fully sintered. Morris believed that such materials and metal laser sintering technology to help direct Injection Mold Making manufacturer industry in order to lower the cost of production of fine-type core and cavity inserts. “At present, there is no reason why a lot of mold manufacturers to adopt the technology, in my opinion, is because many people believe that they only used the old order manufacturing mold core and cavity be considered the best.” Morris explained.
Clear Conservative

Mold maker Linear Mold & Engineering Inc. CEO JohnTenbusch not hesitate to adopt the above techniques. Because Tenbusch found that the company’s EOS direct metal laser sintering rapid prototyping equipment, new customers have even extended to Mexico and South America.

In the injection mold manufacturing process, using a typical EDM equipment (EDM) is a more popular on welding, and wire cutting in the fast-forming mold is also a gradual increase in the use. This, Tenbusch explained: “With wire cutting can help us save time, that is, we use wire cutting to cut out the cavity, while the insert such as the fine components using DMLS process to process.”

Tenbusch introduced a high accuracy of this method, but do not need to be a lot of measuring points, while rib muscle can be separated and as vents. Can also be processed using the wire cutting some stainless steel inserts, and place them in the mold. If the material hard enough and long enough life time, processing personnel will not have the details necessary to EDM parts, and as for the usual pre-hardened high-tensile steel nitrided die is the case. The use of wire cutting can be 4 to 5 weeks to complete mold manufacturing, which accelerated the root cause lies in the DMLS equipment EOS EDM equipment replaced.

Co-Cr-MP1 is the EOS family of the company’s new stainless steel 17-4 in a series, it is planned to the market this year is MaragingSteelMS1, this is a 18 martensitic steel 300 (Model: 1.2709), its performance at least equivalent to or even superior to the traditional mold steel, very suitable for fabrication using DMLS mold insert.
Less polished, multi-coated

U.S. Bales Mold Service, Inc. is a leading injection mold company to provide polishing and electroplating services. Out of consideration for the customer to reduce costs, the company is now seldom used premium EDM polishing technology, replaced by the introduction of plating technology in the mold surface coatings. Bales Mold Service Company President SteveBales, said: “Now is not required each mold polishing, and coating use is gradually growing. We have adopted in lieu of electroplating polishing EDM live, you can save time and money for customers.”

As we all know, fillers will shorten the life of injection mold. With the injection molding of the growing amount of filler, filler to the mold caused by corrosion and wear to highlight the growing problem. The increase in coating for mold, such as Nicklon (a nickel-PTFE coating) and Nibore (nickel-boron nitride) is able to play a very good protection. At the same time with the plastic lubricant additive expensive compared to those of coating and very cheap.

Ritemp be provided with suitable temperature with
Australia Ritemp Corporation (Australia processing and auxiliary equipment suppliers ComtecIPE branch) in 2005 launched the Ritemp mold cooling technology. At present the technology in North America, from SWM & Associates Inc. exclusive agent.

Using Ritemp mold cooling technology, can achieve higher cooling efficiency and shorter cycle times. Such as injection molding an electrical 15g shell, use the GEPlastics the NorylPA / PPE, for the two-cavity mold, molding cycle 18s. The use of Ritemp cooling technology you can use the four-cavity mold, and make molding cycle down to 13s, the resulting output can be more than 7 million. SWM & Associates Company believes that if the downstream equipment can handle more products, molding cycle can even be reduced to 10s.

Ritemp works as follows: Ritemp with the mold surface of the cooling water tank instead of water cannon. The vacuum created by removal of air and water to boiling temperature in the cooling room. Water evaporation to the mold surface heat exchange, and then discharged through the sink. In the evaporation process, the water molecules absorb heat and, through the mold temperature control system for regulating the heat level, thereby ensuring that the mold temperature.

The use of submerged gate gate insert to eliminate the visible signs of
This submerged gate inserts from Germany, i-mold company, its injection site was designed in the end products, while the flow channel from the front open, so that the surface of positioning products on the gate inconspicuous place. For example, in product outer edge of the side gate at the bottom of rib muscle, people can not see the obvious signs of the gate.

MSI Mold Builders Expands In Lowa, Eyes Automotive Market

ORLANDO, FLA. — MSI Mold Builders has recently completed a 12,000-square-foot expansion to its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plant, bringing its total footprint to just under 60,000 square feet.

The company also installed a 3-meter-by-6-meter travel 5-axis machining center and a 3,000-ton injection molding machine for sampling, representing a total investment of just under $6 million, President Roger Klouda said. Lifting capacity at the plant was increased to 30 tons.

“Basically what this allows us to do is additional flexibility in building larger tools. We’ve opened up a different class of tools for us to be able to build,” Klouda said during an interview at NPE 2015 in Orlando.

MSI’s Greenville, S.C., plant also got a new 5-axis machining center, and lifting capacity boosted to 25 tons.

This year was MSI Mold Builders’ fourth NPE and its largest booth. This year a Polaris Slingshot was on display, drawing eyes and inquiries. MSI did the tooling for more than half the plastic parts on the Slingshot, including the highly visible hood and dashboard, Klouda said.

“I would hazard a guess that we have the most photographed booth in the show,” he said. And beyond showing off a successful project, he’s using the attention to show customers and potential customers how the company has grown.

MSI does most of its work for the recreational vehicle, lawn and garden, heavy truck and medical end markets, and is targeting the automotive market as the company’s next growth area, Klouda said. He emphasized the importance of starting small; the company is hoping to have 10 percent of its business in automotive over the next year.

“We want to be a mold maker that does automotive work, rather than an automotive mold maker,” Klouda said.

But the automotive market offers some opportunities not available elsewhere.

“It’s a big market that we can’t stay out of and grow like we need to grow as an organization,” Klouda said.


Government Report Reveals Details About Plastic Pollution In China’s Seas

A recent report released by China’s State Oceanic Administration revealed striking numbers that show plastics Pollution as the primary culprit for ocean waste in the Chinese seas.

The agency collected more than 2 million sets of data from about 8,700 monitoring stations along the Chinese coastline during 2014.

The report, published on Mar. 11, said polystyrene foam plastics accounted 46 percent of all floating debris and other types of plastics accounted for another 31 percent. In other words, plastics overall made up 77 percent of floating debris.

Plastics also represented 77 percent of beach litter, mostly plastic bags, EPS foam and plastic bottles.

On the ocean floor, about 84 percent of the trash was found to be plastics, mostly plastic bags and bottles. The agency said it observed an average of 720 bags and bottles per square kilometer.

China was identified last month as the world’s largest source of plastic marine debris by a Science paper authored by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Indonesia and Vietnam ranked second and third, and the United States ranked 20th.

While China is the world’s largest importer of waste plastics, the China Scrap Plastics Association said imported scrap shouldn’t take the blame.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of plastic products, CSPA said in a statement.

“From a global point of view, China’s plastics recycling industry actually helps to reduce the amount of plastics dumped into the ocean,” it added, “if [we] don’t recycle them, more plastics will end up in the ocean.”

The Beijing-based trade group also blamed China’s weak environmental protection system for playing a more critical role in the result of ocean pollution.

From: Plastic News

How To Find A Good Plastic Injection Mold Manufacturer

Choosing a good plastic injection mold manufacturer is a challenging work.  What’s most concern is about the price. No many manufacturer can gives a good price injection mold service, particular in USA. We know that the labor costs in USA is 8 times higher than China. So, the result is that customers  pay the high labor costs for these companies.

 Plastic Injection Mold Manufacturer in China

Why not choose a developing country to do this job?

China is become the most largest manufacturer in injection molding industry, with the low costs and high quality service, it more friendly to some SMEs. 

Ecomolding co., Ltd is the best choice

We have 20 years of experience of making injection molds for the EU and US market. So we know the Standards and requirements very well.Our molds are always with excellent quality ,competitive price, short lead time,it accumulate a good reputation for us.

I think you need a good and trustworthy mold manufacturer to work with you for injection molds and molding the plastic products.

  1. Cold & Hot Runner / Single & Multi-Cavity /injection molding/Insert Molds/ Over mold
  2. Prototype /Prototype Tooling.
  3. Mass production.
  4. CNC machining.
  5. silicone and rubber mold and product production
  6. Automotive mold,Optical mold and medical mold

Our engineer can make the 3d data only if you can provide samples and optimise the 3D drawing benefit to mold building.

After design confirmed, we will send you a mold making schedule with T1 sampling time. We will send you tooling schedule with pics of mold weekly until the mold is finished and you get good samples. After test, we will send you part measuring report and injection parameter and video of testing.


So if you want to find best plastic injection mold manufacturer,please feel free to contact me, we are your best choice!

Rapid Prototyping In China

Before we spent lots of money to make molds, some new project investor will make rapid prototyping to check the mechanical function or verify the designing,rapid prototype can be made of plastic,steel or the monment we have many methods to make prototypes, such as CNC machining, SLA technology and Vaccum custing technology.

Rapid Prototyping In China


Rapid Prototyping (RP) is a quick and economical way to make the sample according to your drawing or your idea, you can do assembly to verify the mechanical function, we can make painting,silk print and runner coationg,as the technology develop,the finish of prototypes reach the same level of mass production product.then you can see the real aprearance of your designning,sometimes customers use rapid prototype for business exhibition as real product.Good quality prototype is one of the reason,another important is the economic cost and short lead time,rapid prototype normally take one week,but molds will take one month at least,cost is also different,prototype will cost less than 300USD,but molds cost more than 2000 USD even if you find the cheapest mold manufacturer in China.

Also the rapid protyping have another important function:find the mistake or imperfection in the designing at the beginning of R&D and help designer optimise the designing step by step,if you find the problem after you build the mold,it will take thousands of USD to modify the tooling.



CNC Machining prototyping
This is most popular way to make rapid protypes in China.first ,the CNC machines is not expensive as others,it is less risk to invest the equipment.Second,they can make large size prototypes
Max size up 1100mm x 650mm x 470mm,
Advantages: Large size, high strength, good toughness, short delivery time.


SLA technology
tereolithography (SLA or SL; also known as optical fabrication, photo-solidification, solid free-form fabrication, solid imaging and Resin printing) is an additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology used for producing models or prototype
Application: toy, electric case parts with complex surface
Advantages: complex structure capable, high strength

Vacuum-custing technology
Produce a silicone mold with a prototype part under vacuum, use the silicone mold to clone parts.
Advantages: Low cost, fast, it is very cheap to duplicate the prototypes,it have big advantage if you want 10-50 pcs parts.