Posted by: Emily Probst 26. November 2015

Amerimold 2016 Dates Announced

Tool or die? Or mold or jig or fixture? If you answer yes (to any or all of the above), you should know about Amerimold 2016. It’s an annual event that benefits every aspect of a contract tool and mold manufacturing business. And, Amerimold has just recently announced its plans for 2016. Now in its 15th year, the event formerly known as the MoldMaking Expo will take place June 15-16, 2016, at Novi, Michigan’s Suburban Collection Showplace.

Presented by our friends at MoldMaking Technology, the two-day event will include an exhibit hall filled with equipment for designing, machining and maintaining tools and molds; a technical program featuring experts on product technologies and process innovations being developed and adopted by leading manufacturers, and there will be ample formal and informal business networking opportunities.

But, how does the event benefit every aspect of a tool and mold manufacturing business.?

  • Equipment: The Amerimold exhibit hall will feature leading suppliers of machine tools, materials, components, cutting tools, software and more. By visiting the show, you’ll be able to research and discover the latest equipment technologies. You can also meet with applications experts and sales engineers that can assist directly with addressing your production needs and challenges. Here is a list of who is already exhibiting.
  • Operations:The Amerimold technical conference includes sessions on designing, machining and maintaining molds. Participants in the conference walk away with real, applications-based solutions and strategies that can immediately impact business. Take a look at last year’s program.
  • Sales: In recent years, Amerimold has become an event the serves the sourcing needs of the tool and mold manufacturing market. Buyers from OEMs and large manufacturers attend the event to meet with contract tool and mold manufacturers. In fact, in 2015, Amerimold featured a record number of exhibiting tool and mold makers, who invested in displaying their services to interested buyers. These are those tool and mold makers.

So, if your business involves making tools or dies (or molds or jigs or fixtures) and you are involved in managing your equipment, your operations or your sales – set aside June 15-16, 2016, to participate in Amerimold 2016. In the meantime, be on the lookout for Amerimold announcements on conference programming, registration, special events and more. is a great place to look. Or, you can connect to Amerimold on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

Posted by: Derek Korn 25. November 2015

Multitask Machine or Mini Cell?

Chris Guidotti, vice president of operations for East Branch Engineering, uses a pallet jack to maneuver the 2OP CNC milling machine from Southwestern Industries into position near one of the shops Brother VMCs.

East Branch Engineering often uses live-tool turning centers to complete complex parts in one setup. However, it also leverages a flexible and reconfigurable “mini-cell” strategy with a pair of portable CNC milling machines that can be easily transported next to any of the shop’s conventional VMCs or turning centers and then perform secondary operations, run dedicated, small-batch jobs or machine prototypes. That way, a single operator can tend two machines rather than standing idly by, waiting on just one machine to complete its operations, and the shop essentially gains “free” machining time by overlapping operations. Learn more.

Posted by: Mark Albert 24. November 2015

Data-Driven Manufacturing Enabled with Tool Lifecycle Management

This video presents a lively and easy-to-follow scenario of how information about cutting tool availability links design, planning and production. Although TDM's tool lifecycle management software is brought into focus at relevant spots in this video, the larger message that "tool data management will be the control room of digitally controlled production" is sound and compelling.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 23. November 2015

Grob Holds In-House Exhibition

Grob’s in-house exhibition was well attended and included tours of the company’s sprawling Mindelheim, Germany, manufacturing headquarters. 

Recently, I attended an open house in Mindelheim, Germany, the headquarters of machine tool builder Grob. In attendance were customers, representatives from the company’s global distribution network and suppliers from tooling, software and workholding companies. It was actually a mini trade show.

Grob is a family business that began in 1926 in Munich. It moved to its current location in Mindelheim in 1968, building a manufacturing campus that continues to grow. I was told they are the second largest builder in Europe and that the concentration of manufacturing facilities at the headquarters represents the largest concentration of machine tool building in Europe.

The company also manufactures in Bluffton, Ohio, Brazil, and China. Part of the company’s manufacturing strategy is to make these three satellite plants capable of making the same product lines as the German headquarters. They do this by pursuing vertical integration.

Highlighted at the open house was the line of universal machining centers built around the company’s G series of HMCs with multitasking capability. These machines are modular in design and can be customized with workholding, palletization, extended tool storage and myriad of other modules to customize the base model to a given application.

The other side of the company’s business involves machining systems that serve the automotive industry, in which Grob holds a significant market share.

Another highlight of the visit is called Grob-Net 4 Industry. According to Christian Grob, this connectivity package was implemented and tested in the Grob factories and is now being offered to its customers. We’re seeing this trend from other machine tool builders as Industry 4.0 and what we call the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) gains momentum.

It was an interesting and enlightening visit. 

Posted by: Matthew Danford 20. November 2015

A Manufacturer’s Most Valuable Resource

Mark Kite (left) and Frank Bock (right), co-owners of Dura Mold, say adopting a more collaborative approach to manufacturing has improved efficiency by better leveraging employees’ skills, improving communication and flexibility, and instilling a sense of teamwork that keeps everyone on-track and focused on the big picture.

A few weeks back, MMS Senior Editor Peter Zelinksi blogged about the importance of a positive shop culture and asked readers if they knew of any manufacturers that made this a priority. I know of quite a few, and they all have one thing in common: They’re all plastic injection mold makers.

That makes sense, given that I’ve only recently come aboard MMS after a 2-year stint at our sister publication, MoldMaking Technology. Still, it’s interesting that no matter what moldmaking topic I was writing about, the vast majority of shop leaders touched on the importance of people in some way, shape or form.

In fact, I cited a few examples in a recent blog post, including a shop that’s invested $1 million in workout rooms, break rooms and other such upgrades, as well as a shop with an interesting approach to showing employees they’re appreciated. However, that post left out something that’s just as critical as instituting a comfortable work environment and making people feel valued. The moldmakers I know—including the ones mentioned above—also emphasize the importance of giving employees a real say in the operation, a chance to potentially shape their own activities and those of the broader company.

One of the first articles I wrote for MMT focused exclusively on this subject. At Dura Mold, moving from a top-down management structure to a more collaborative approach has led to better use of human resources, improved communication and teamwork, a more flexible process and greater accountability. Learn more.

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