Erie, Pa. — Penn State Erie's Innovation and Emerging Technologies Conference had something for the 185-plus attendees, students and industry veterans with about 30 presentations covering topics including resin drying, liquid color, automation, coining, plastic flow, balancing hot runners and multicavity molds to account for viscosity changes, and improving collaboration between engineering and manufacturing.
Doug Espinoza, manager of RJG Inc.'s TZero program, explained how the consulting operation helps link engineering and production to create a tool launch that's right the first time — by spending time and effort before cutting steel. He advised molders to document and validate the processes involved in molding a part.
"Half the battle is knowing what is happening in the mold," he said.
People in manufacturing these days know to avoid setting up silos of work functions, where departments toss projects over the wall. But Espinosa said TZero uses a documented, organized plan to foster communication when designing an injection mold.
Training and education are the keys, and the missing links at many companies, he said, displaying detailed flow charts to track progress and encourage teamwork.
"Get out there, get folks together and do some problem-solving," he said.
TZero helps design experiments to go through a list of hypotheses. "We can be on the plant floor for two weeks, getting people out of problems," Espinoza said.
TZero uses molding simulation, as RJG is licensed to use Sigmasoft, Moldex3D and Autodesk Moldflow Insight. Espinoza reviewed part design and mold design, where he said "cooling is a big factor."
Measuring machine performance is very important and can sometimes give simulation a bad rap, he said. TZero experts prefer to get real data.
"Don't just use the machine spec and its inputs. You have to have actual machine inputs," Espinoza said.
And changes in resin viscosity can impact part quality, which is why he recommends monitoring the history of mold cavity pressure, using's RJG's Decoupled II and Decoupled III processes.