Sussex IM initially inherited a concept-proving 1+1 family-style injection mold from a HaloVino-retained tooling source in China.
The tool was transferred to Sussex IM in July 2016. The first order of 15,000 tumblers was shipped in the first week of August 2016 to the 2016 Wisconsin State Fair.
At the same time, the firm's toolroom in Sussex, Wis., went to work on changes. Sussex IM employs five journeyman mold makers for engineering and preventive mold maintenance functions.
The shop made several modifications to optimize the prototype mold to facilitate what became the first 100,000 units of production.
That volume far exceeded the expected life of the mold.
Early market success and customer feedback preceded the planning and engineering of both the geometry and the manufacturing process for the next phase of production.
In making changes, special attention was paid to the aesthetic elements.
Sussex IM ordered the new 4+4 mold from Hartford, Wis.-based Mantz Automation Inc. The build occurred in Hartford. Mantz has another site in Fond du Lac, Wis.
The mold is projected to cost $150,000.
Subtle design elements of a proprietary nature improved the portable, leakproof assembly.
Sussex IM designers utilized Autodesk Moldflow fill/flow analysis to help balance-fill the family tool's multiple cavities. Resin quantities differ for the top and bottom components.
Improvements included a multidrop manifold system to minimize runner scrap and control flow marks and bubbles in the wall section. As a result of the mold flow analysis, the gate location was optimized to blend it into features of the assembly and improve venting. The ejection system was improved. Core-cavity interlocks ensured consistent alignment protecting shut-offs and the parting line minimizing split lines on the molded part. The tool was built with the capability to expand into multicavity automatic in-mold labeling.
The resin selected for the project is a low-odor, good-clarity PP that has approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
For quick responses, Sussex IM uses digitally printed in-mold labels — pre-cut plastic films — to customize HaloVino tumblers with artwork and messaging for specific brands and venues.
"This enables Jessica to offer her customers the flexibility of a product decorated specifically for their event or promotion or general sale, [and] it is a cost-effective technique to differentiate the HaloVino tumbler from other offerings in this market," said John Berg, Sussex IM director of marketing.
"We've been very pleased with the advancements made in digital IML," he said. "We use this method in several applications and appreciate the flexibility, dramatically shortened lead times and the ability to order both large and small volumes."
HaloVino customers include the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park and the basketball and entertainment venue BMO Harris Bradley Center. A venue can stack unassembled pieces for storage.
Recently, Sussex IM took delivery of three new presses from KraussMaffei — two 222-ton KM 200-750CX models and one 378-ton KM 350-3000CX.
Now, the processor operates more than 60 injection molding machines with clamping forces ranging from 25-955 tons.
Processes include in-mold decoration, insert, multishot, co-injection, over-molding, auto-unscrew and living hinge.
Sussex IM provides numerous customers with downstream value-added operations such as assembly, decorating and performance validation. The contract manufacturing services include final packaging and third-party logistics.
Sussex IM employs 416 full-time, 15 part-time and 120 temporary workers; occupies 222,000 square feet in two Sussex facilities in Waukesha County; and had 2017 sales of $68 million. The 2018 projection is $77 million.
Sussex IM owners include Keith Everson, CEO; Phil Salzman, vice president of operations; and Dave Guagliardo, chief financial officer.
The company plans an expansion in the next year to accommodate advanced manufacturing cells.
Sussex IM and other companies will have active roles at the NPE2018 exhibit of the In-Mold Decorating Association in booth WL-6 on level 2 of the Orange County Convention Center's west hall in Orlando, Fla., May 7-11.