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Prospect Mold opens Molding Technologies division

By: Bill Bregar

February 14, 2014

AKRON, OHIO — Prospect Mold and Die Co. has added a multi-shot Engel injection press — that can run up to four injection units — to sample its tooling for automotive headlight and taillight lenses, and other multi-material molds.

"We have a deep, long, rich history here in multi-color molds for lighting," Prospect Mold President Brandon Wenzlik said.

According to a company history, in 1995, Prospect Mold designed the first five-color lens mold in North America.

Now, the company has invested $2.5 million to start its Molding Technologies division, housed in a leased 24,000-square-foot building in Akron. It's about 10 miles from Prospect's headquarters factory in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

"With the molding machine we bought, we can sample these parts now, rather than having to go to the customer's facility. So when we design these multi-color, multi-material molds, we can actually run them in-house now and do all the sampling, and commission them prior to shipping," Wenzlik said.

Until now, the mold-maker's customers had to break into production to sample the multi-shot molds. That is never easy, but it's even harder now that the automotive sector is so busy.

"Most of our customers are facing some pretty severe capacity constraints," Wenzlik said.

The investment includes an Engel duo combi press, with 1,650 tons of clamping force, upgrading the building and buying auxiliary equipment, including an Engel viper robot and a Comet dryer, hopper and loader. The machine is equipped with a Husky 72-zone hot runner controller, and is equipped with both hydraulic and pneumatic sequential valve gates.

The four injection units have shot capacities ranging from 33-110 ounces. Three of the injection units are lined up parallel to each other on the injection side; a fourth one comes in from the non-operator side, in an L-shaped configuration.

Prospect Mold has the option of running the press as a traditional single-shot, or two, three or four shots. The press has a two-station rotary platen.

The company, with 120 employees, makes other multi-component molds beyond headlights. One example: Molds for active grille shutter systems that open and close the front grille louvres on a car, to improve gas mileage at higher speeds. The plastic housing has a gasket seal around it, which requires a two-shot mold.

Prospect Mold hired three people to staff the new Molding Technologies division. Wenzlik said the company is considering a second injection press. He stressed the new division is to serve customers, not get into the molding business.

"It's a sampling division, but we also want to offer a service to our customers. So it will be set up where it could run short-run production. But we would never be in a position where we'd be competing with customers," he said.

The Molding Technologies division commissioned its first active tool in early February at the new building, located next to Akron Airdock, the gigantic building where Goodyear once made airships.

Prospect Mold is an old-line Akron company, founded in 1945 by William P. Wright and two partners. His son, Bruce Wright is CEO.

The company specializes in complex molds. Car lighting molds, for example, have contours that have to be perfect, with a mirror surface. To finish the molds, they undergo detailed hand polishing.

In addition to injection molds, Prospect makes tooling for compression molding, molds for resin transfer molding and offers custom tooling and machining of parts for the aerospace sector.