The discussion turned to some interesting parallels between producing a plastic injection mold and publishing an issue of a magazine. Steve Craprotta and I had just spent a long morning at Eclipse Mold talking about mold machining and observing the shop’s innovative processes. He and I noted how every mold is different, yet all molds share many common features—runners, gates, parting lines, guide pins and so on. It’s the same with a magazine. Each issue has original articles and news items, yet the basic sections and departments repeat month after month. Our production schedules have a similar rhythm, too, a pattern of very busy and not quite so busy periods.
Other comparisons have come to my mind since we had that conversation.
In both fields, digital technology continues to bring big changes. Although the means are constantly undergoing change, the ends remain the same: Make a mold that runs well, yields good parts and lasts a long time. Circulate a magazine that gives readers compelling content and lots of pertinent ads. In both cases, delivering value is essential.
A magazine usually carries bylines. We want authors and contributors to get credit for their work. In mold manufacturing, individual craftsmanship is being de-emphasized. However, the collaborative efforts of mold designers, programmers, machine operators and the rest have to be as creative and imaginative as ever. The artistry—and pride—must still be there.
Molded plastic components continue to proliferate in new products. Nevertheless, competition with shops from around the globe is intense, and losing work to overseas mold builders is an ongoing frustration. On the other side, print editors are well aware that reading habits are changing. People are turning to online sources for news and information. Losing subscribers is a worry.
Talent is rare in both mold building and publishing. Skilled writers and editors who are knowledgeable in technical fields such as metalworking are hard to find, although plenty of job seekers want to break into publishing, journalism and communications. Getting young people to even sniff at careers in any aspect of manufacturing is a tough sell. It seems to me that, for someone with ability and a genuine calling, working in a mold shop would bring satisfaction and fulfillment. Everybody loses because the industry’s recruiting efforts are struggling.
I guess I’m the fortunate one. I have both the opportunity to write and the privilege to write about mold shops with exciting technology. It’s doubly rewarding.