The plastic industry's guide for buying molds is getting an update after nearly 25 years.
The 21-page document — officially called "Customs and Practices of the Moldmaking Industry" — offers best practices for every facet of procuring a mold, which typically costs $10,000 for prototyping to $500,000 if complex tooling is needed for high cavitation.
First issued in the early 1980s, the guide was prepared by the mold makers division of the Society of the Plastics Industry, now called the Plastics Industry Association, to share "important points" for prospective mold buyers to consider as they go through a process that isn't always straightforward and surely hasn't been commoditized as routine.
Although common practices are followed, mold buyers may specify many unique requirements and preferences. The goal of the guide is to avoid misunderstandings and conflict for both parties involved.
The manual advises those procuring and manufacturing molds about their initial contact, which the guide says should be in person whenever possible, listing specifications on mold data sheets, receiving progress reports, making payments and arranging delivery.
Last updated in 1996, the guide contains some outdated technology, terminology and protocols, according to Glenn Starkey, president of Progressive Components, a Wauconda, Ill.-based company that sells components and monitoring systems for mold making and molding.
Starkey chairs the mold makers division of the plastics association's committee on equipment statistics. He is on the task force revising the guide with Toby Bral of MSI Mold Builders Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Wally and Camille Sackett of Accede Mold & Tool Co. Inc. in Rochester, N.Y.
"The original content won't be scrapped, as we decided to not start with a clean sheet of paper. People still work off this document," Starkey said. "But we figured it's a good time to take a fresh look at it. The work of the task force will primarily involve mostly heavy editing and updating."
A lot of the information in the guide has become part of the industry vernacular, Starkey said, pointing to the various classifications of molds and their cycle capabilities and price ranges.
The guide tells buyers that Class 101 molds built of quality steel for extremely high production — more than 1 million cycles — will be the most expensive. At the other end, a Class 104 mold is a less expensive, low-production tool typically constructed for aluminum to produce fewer than 100,000 parts.
Then, there are the Class 105 molds for prototypes only — less than 500 cycles — and they are built in the least expensive manner.
The guide defines "common slang" of the toolmaking sector, Starkey said, but some terms aren't relevant today. He doesn't expect mentions of numerical control tape, mylars, hobs and mandrels to make the next edition.
"Somebody in the mold business might get a chuckle remembering that from 30 years ago," Starkey said. "There are also references to forms and how pink carbon copies are filed for internal use. We will update that to an electronic form."
In addition, practices for mold payments, mold qualification and warrantying mold performance have changed. The revised guidelines also will have an updated mold data sheet, which serves as a checklist of the mold buyer's needs and is used for quotations, and a progress report template for providing status during the various mold building stages.