Plastic injection molding machines at Innovative MoldGeorge Kasper, President of Innovative Mold, incorporated the company in 1989 together with his brother David. The Michigan, USA firm began by making molds for the plastics industry, then rapidly grew into its third building. It now employs 26 people and produces 90% of its molds for the automotive industry, to suit presses between 50 and 500 tons.

George Kasper said, “We manufacture single shot molds and two shot rotational molds, producing interior parts, structural components and sound dampening items.” The appearance of many of the interior parts is critical, for example a radio bezel may require two different resins injected to produce the required quality and appearance. Innovative Mold can offer rotational molds or pick and place robot transfer solutions to achieve the desired results in these demanding applications.

Tool try-out facilities are provided by the company’s Toshiba and Cincinnati molding machines, while prototype tooling is manufactured in aluminum or steel depending on the customer’s individual requirements. It installed its first CNC machinery in 1996 but, as mold complexity increased and machine tools became more sophisticated, it found that its existing CAM package had some shortcomings, especially on P20 steel.

When the company initially looked at WorkNC, it felt that it could not justify the cost. However, after a trial George Kasper’s engineers told him that he could not afford to not buy the software! He added, “WorkNC spends much more of its time actually cutting rather than in the air. It has resulted in a productivity increase on the machine tools of between 25 and 50% through more efficient toolpaths.” Quinn Sova, Programmer at Innovative Mold added, “Programming is around three times quicker with WorkNC when compared with our old software.”

CAD data is passed from the company’s design systems straight into WorkNC, which is dedicated to the preparation of CNC code. Quinn Sova said, “The cycles we use most frequently in WorkNC are high torque roughing, high torque re-roughing, z-leveling, z-level re-machining, planar finishing, optimized z-level finishing, contour re-machining, tangent to curve, and on curve engraving, giving us the flexibility to easily complete the most complex work.” The software enables the company to use spindle speeds up to 28,000 rpm and feedrates between 0.04 ipm and 250 ipm as well as cutters down to 0.012″ diameter on titanium work pieces, thanks to its reliability and smooth toolpaths. A major contributor to success has been the re-machining function, which Innovative Mold uses extensively. After each machining operation WorkNC is able to update the stock material model so that it knows exactly where excess material remains. Armed with this information, the software ensures that the tool is continually engaged with the job for the subsequent operation, maximizing productivity and minimizing shock loading, which could lead to tool breakage. Quinn Sova added, “The roughing cycles have saved a considerable amount of time, and the ability of WorkNC to machine more of the mold directly has contributed to a reduction in the number of electrodes which we have to make.”

WorkNC is a valuable element in the parallel processes, which Innovative Mold operates. Once the customer has ordered the mold, the company raises an order for the steel during the design evaluation phase. Similarly, mold manufacture starts as the design is being finalized, enabling it to continuously build as much of the tool as possible in parallel with other tasks, significantly reducing lead times. George Kasper said, “WorkNC has cut both programming and machining times. With its help we have reduced delivery on aluminum prototype tools to two weeks and production tools to eight weeks.”

Innovative Mold has been impressed by Sescoi’s after sales service. George Kasper said, “We get advice on cutting strategies and how best to achieve our machining goals, as well as how to operate the software. The service is extremely good.” Quinn Sova agreed, “The service is excellent, all our questions are important to them.” George Kasper concluded, “WorkNC is an integral part of our production process and an efficient means of programming cutter paths. The expense of running the machine tools makes the productivity improvements we have gained from the software crucial to our performance.”