Mold Making companies considering investment in US
Due to increased demand for US Molds, there are more Mold Making companies considering investment. Is most investment going to be in “Capacity that leads to the old labor intensive process? Capability. There are drastically different processes for building molds today. Some that make hitting short lead times, high quality and lower costs look easy. How will companies that rely on older technology compete against a company that uses “Mold Making Cells” where the entire process is captive in the machining centers through probing, lasers, etc. I have recently seen a process that will be nearly impossible to match without being aware of the best in each technology for Tool Making. In plain terms, an 8- Cavity production Automotive Mold with less than 20 Hours of Manual Labor and a completed mold in 15 days (Production ready). No burning was required but there were very small rads and length to diameter ratio’s that would be EDM’d by many.
There will be and is a need for that knowledge. The best have a good blend of old school knowledge to go with understanding how to apply new processes. The molds coming in the door have to be viewed in a different way but the understanding of what makes they run for millions of cycles and how to enhance the design is essential. A Mold cut exactly to print does not close.
Technology is what eliminates the labor intensive practices that gives China an advantage. The molds stay at home because it makes financial sense, not because people feel compelled to keep the work at home. It has everything to do with technology and that is why are returning.
If we think that the old techniques can work than we are letting China exploit the one advantage they have which is an abundance of cheap labor. We will need more people to enter the trade. I think that there is money in it to pay higher wages because it not something that any machine shop can do and this should attract educated young engineers more easily than basic machining.
about the "return from china" i totally disagree with you my friend, "they" are coming back from china because the appetite of the good Chinese manufacturer became bigger (righteously) they also want to ride a bmw and not a Gilly.
technology is not a barrier, technology i don't have i will outsource to my neighbor, if you think that you have any technical advantage over the Chinese you are wrong, they have all the equipment you can dream of makino ,yasda,matsuura,nakamura you name it...
Jeff, could you share with us what brand and type of cutting tool you are using in order to achieve "0.0002 tolerance"? And what's the machine? Thanks.