September 29th, 2020
Providing productivity solutions for injection molders, extruders, blow molders and mold makers that go beyond just selling products. Slide also provides extensive expertise and experience.
This means spending a lot of time with our customers to learn about their processes, problems and productivity hurdles. Over nearly 70 years in business, we’ve learned that challenges facing the manufacturer of medical parts are very different from what keeps a manufacturer of automotive components up at night.
But when it comes to the care and maintenance of their molds – some of which can cost as much as $500,000 – we see manufacturing clients making a lot of the same mistakes. Sometimes mistakes happen in the rush of production; sometimes they’re the result of not giving the worst-case scenario its due. Whatever the reason, mold maintenance mistakes are almost always preventable with diligent practices and the right products.
Here are four mistakes that can have an insidious effect on your bottom line if you overlook them, along with some best practices for avoiding them.
1. Playing Fast and Loose with Rust Prevention
Rust has a way of fooling you into letting it grow. It starts so small. Considering how expensive replacing a mold can be, there is no such thing as too much due diligence around rust. Even something as small as a fingerprint can start the corrosion process. Effective rust prevention means staying ahead of it continuously.
Rust prevention also takes into account the type of material you are running. PVC resin, for example, gives off a very corrosive vapor that can give rust a head start. A specialty mold release product formulated to neutralize these corrosive vapors as the resin is being molded will keep you in front of the problem. Using such a mold release when combined with the regular use of a rust preventive that protects against oxidation caused by these acidic vapors will offer the protection such a molding situation requires.
2. Inadequate Preparation for Shutdowns
With a busy production schedule, it can be tempting to think that near-constant use of your molds means you don’t have to be as diligent about short periods of inactivity. But even the shortest shutdowns can create an opportunity for rust. If you shut down a mold with the tiniest bit of vapor or moisture residue, or you use the wrong product to protect the mold surface, you’re inviting an expensive problem.
We’ve seen cases where the last thing an employee did before closing the mold was to put his hand on it as he stood up, leaving behind a hand printed invitation to rust. Diligent mold cleaning, rust prevention and storage practices are critical even for short-term shutdowns.
3. Not Leading with Your Most Demanding Production Requirements
With some plants diversifying their plastic molding into making a wider variety of products, particularly for the food and medical industries, the right formulation for the job can quickly become a collection of various brands and duplicative solutions. If you’re trying to switch back and forth from the production requirements for medical parts and ice cream containers to parts for automobiles, it can lead to problems.
The answer is to use a family of chemical solutions and best practices demanded by the most restrictive requirements. One solution employed by numerous molders is to adopt the practice of switching over to all NSF-certified products. Rust preventives that are allowed on the auto side don’t necessarily work for the medical side. Simplify your options and go with the higher-grade products. The prevention of one mistake is enough to make this practice worthwhile.
4. Overlooking the Risk of Abrasions and Scratches
Abrasions and scratches are one of the more insidious forms of damage to your mold, creating the potential for damage far out of proportion to their size. They are a common initiation site for rust, and even the tiniest speck of rust can of cause a change in the depth of your mold.
We’ve seen manufacturers who are diligent about using the best mold cleaners but then reach for the wrong rag or the wrong type of Scotch-Brite pad. It takes only the tiniest bit of debris on a rag or glove to leave a scratch. A paint chip or a particle of debris from a work bench is enough. For “mirror-finish” molds, this is a disaster. The less you have to touch a mold, the better.
A best practice is to look for a cleaning product that allows you to simply spray it, with no wiping required. The strong, fast-evaporating cleaning solvents will break down and remove the unwanted contamination from the mold or die surface. An alternative mold cleaning approach is to use specialized pre-moistened Mold Cleaner Wipes that offer precision mold cleaning while preventing scratches for mold cleaning touch-up jobs.
Mold Maintenance Expertise and Experience
Contact us to speak with one of our mold maintenance experts and learn more about how we can help you solve your mold maintenance and cleaning issues. We have decades of experience helping molders prepare, maintain and extend the life of their molds and we have a team that is passionate about helping your succeed.