Modern Machine Shop

NOV 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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MMS NOVEMBER 2018 72 mmsonline.com FABRICATING Waterjet Blasts Away 2D Tedium A shop finds an alternative for work that does not require advanced CNC machining centers or high levels of moldmaking expertise. One of the first things a visitor might notice on a tour of International Mold Corp. (IMC) is a line of programming kiosks in a central aisle, only feet from some of the shop's largest and most productive horizontal machining centers. Plotting tool paths for cores and cavities on the shop f loor makes the people programming and operating the machines nimbler, says Gabe Meldrum, plant manager. Likewise for the modular, quick-change workholding systems on all the HMCs, which feature pallet changers and high-capacity tool- changers to enable long periods of uninterrupted machining on parts that are rarely alike.Just around the corner is a particularly large machine: a twin-spindle combination of boring mill and gundrill that thrives on heavy hogging and carv- ing cooling holes deep into mold bases, a compo- nent that many shops outsource. These examples evidence the shop's drive to adapt quickly to new work and to control as much of the process as possible. All are also limited to a single facility, one that the mold manufacturer outgrew long ago. Similar technologies and strate- gies are now at work in six other nearby plants, each dedicated to spe- cific aspects of machin- ing cores and cavities, injection-molding parts (often for sale as well as mold try-out), and combining molded parts into market-ready plastic assemblies. An eighth facil- ity—the newest and the first to be located outside the company's Detroit-area campus—is in South Carolina, where tooling can be built and repaired closer to important automotive-industry customers. With twin specialties in blow molds designed for millions of cycles and aluminum injection molds for prototyping and lower-volume production, the 12-year-old company has set itself up to flex as needed with business conditions. However, rapid expansion has not been without challenges. For all IMC's investments in precise and flexible CNC machining technology, simpler work has often strained capacity. After all, Mr. Meldrum explains, even the most complex mold contains MATT DANFORD | SENIOR EDITOR International Mold Corp.'s waterjet goes to work on a set of shims. Since installation three years ago, the machine has been employed for manifolds, ejector plates, wear plates, gibs, fixtures and various other parts.

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