Like Rome, not all molds are built in a day. In fact, some aren't even built in a year. I know it seems strange in this era of increasingly short lead times that there are still shops that take an inordinate amount of time to build a mold. It's even more difficult to believe they are still in business.
The other day I got a call from a man who asked me what I thought of a shop that quoted 12-14 weeks to build a 1+1 injection mold for a 150-ton press. Not knowing all the details, I thought that sounded a bit long but perhaps not unusual.
Then he told me the rest of the story. It had been 43 weeks since he gave the mold maker one-third down, and 37 weeks since he had paid the second third. All he had to show for his $25,000 were some memos giving him the runaround about why the mold still wasn't done.
That same day I talked to a mold maker who said his shop just took on a job that had languished with a competitor for a year before the customer pulled the mold. The new mold maker, using computer-aided design and manufacturing technology, built a new tool from scratch and got acceptable parts for the customer in five weeks.
Even with the spread of CAD/ CAM, some mold- making shops just don't get it. And those shops hurt the rest of the industry.
In the second case, the customer now wants to sue the first mold shop. But that first mold maker probably did the best it could.
Too many original equipment manufacturers are under the mistaken impression that all mold shops are alike. And too many mold makers don't know how to say ``no'' if the job involves a complex-surfaced part or techniques that might be beyond their skill and technology level.
Second, too many OEMs continue to buy price when what they need is technology. You get what you pay for.
There are few excuses for a late mold when on-time delivery is crucial to a shop's success. But success for both parties involves an OEM that properly evaluates a shop's technology and capabilities, and a mold shop that can say no when it recognizes the job reaches beyond its ability.
Goldsberry is a Plastics News correspondent based in Phoenix.