Mitch Nichols • September 20, 2021
There are many reasons why OEM’s transfer tools; challenges with at-risk suppliers, inconsistent part quality and delivery, supplier flexibility to support demand fluctuations or simply exiting a supplier that doesn’t value the business relationship. Whatever the reason may be, there are many factors beyond price to consider when the time comes to transfer your injection molding or thermoforming tools to a new plastics partner. One key question to ask is do they have a documented process or checklist to manage your tool transfer. AdvancTEK has the experience and expertise to seamlessly transfer your tooling and launch it to sustaining production.
There are some key items that greatly aid with a successful tool transfer. First, providing sample Parts off molds and some key pieces of documentation. As an example:
- Sample parts with runners from each mold & cavity (they can be scrap, but note what makes them scrap).
- Part drawings with material call out, dimensions, and tolerances.
- Material specifics, grades, colors all noted on drawings, or specs provided? Are engineering-approved equivalent or alternate materials an option?
- What will the expectations for qualifications be? I.E. sample into production? Or more elaborate with 100% FAIRs, C of C’s, and capability studies?
- 3D files while not mandatory, are beneficial if available.
- QC documentation, standard OEM specs or any referenced guide/specs on drawings supplied.
- Checking fixtures, in-process check gages, tagged standards expected to come with molds.
- What issues are prompting the mold move?
- Latest part/assembly inspection reports
Questions About Molds
The more your transfer partner knows about the molds the better. If mold design 3D and/or drawings are provided it can expedite the process. Other items that are helpful include:
- SPI Class of mold? (Class 101, 102 or 103?)
- Mold Material? (P20, Aluminum, China steel?)
- How many cycles on mold and are there any mold maintenance or modification records?
- Mold Country of origin and if possible, name of company that built the tools
- Cavities of the mold(s)? Are any of the molds family tools (different parts in the same tool)?
- If there are family tools do the parts run at the same time or separately?
- If they run separately is there a runner shut-off that can be changed over to the other parts in the press? Or are there any other “insert” versions requiring mold disassembly to change parts?
Questions such as these will likely make the current supplier aware you may be seeking quotes from other molders. AdvancTEK would caution that some inquiries to your current molder should be asked at your own discretion. If there are pictures or tool drawings available to the tool you may not need to ask.
Some additional questions
- Do the molds run fully automatic (parts fall)?
- Do all of the tools have their own mold base? If not, are they MUD inserts (Master Unit Die) or any other commercially available quick-change system?
- There is also a possibility the current supplier is using a proprietary system where they own the mold base, and the customer only owns the inserts.
- Also, request pictures of the molds split apart on the bench at multiple angles.
- This request should not require any disassembly of the mold
- Taking pictures at different angles should show how many water circuits there are on the tools.
Depending on the tool age, materials used to mold the parts as well as the quality of tool maker can impact your part quality. If part quality is inconsistent or there is evidence of flash or sink marks you could be transferring a problem from one supplier to another. The first question is what condition are the tools in? AdvancTEK will do a thorough tool inspection and may recommend repair or maintenance before running parts. Or in some cases a tool just may need to be replaced.
- Are there any fixtures for cooling, assembly, welding, finishing or machining operations, and if so does your company own them? If not owned are the available for purchase?
If owned by the company, please request pictures.
- Is there any prior documentation available?
- Set-up sheets
- Water diagrams
- History of part processing or manufacturing production issues and corrective actions.
- Mold and /or part revision history
- Mold maintenance history or schedule. Are there any spare mold parts you own with the tool?
- Tool / press interface
- Hydraulic fittings
- Water fittings
- Locating ring size
- Knockout pattern
- Core switch plugs
- Hot runner plugs
- Sprue Radius
- Knockout Tap Size
- Mold Open/Close sequence if applicable
There are many things to consider when the need arises to transfer your tooling. AdvancTEK offers Engineering and Tool Program Management expertise to support your critical assets. To learn more about how we can aid you with tool transfers or new tool design and development contact us today. We are problem solvers and We Find a Way!
Interested in learning more about how AdvancTEK can help you?
Article written by Mitch Nichols- Director of Business Development.