Mold Maintenance & Repair

OCT 2013

Mold Maintenance & Repair

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some human muscle) and will then utilize our ultrasonic machine. The individual components are usually organized by logical grouping or by size before being placed into our ultrasonic cleaning system. cleaning mold components using the ultrasonic method efectively removes contamination from the surfaces of the mold and also from difcult or impossible areas to clean by hand, like vent paths, ejector-pin holes, and cooling channels. The ultrasonic process is non-abrasive and efciently removes the residue from burnt polymers and mold releases from mold surfaces. Aside from the involvement of a PM toolmaker or technician in the setup and takeout of the mold components, the ultrasonic cleaning process is hands-free, so the toolmaker can devote his energies to projects that make the best use of his time and talents. The process of cleaning injection mold components via ultrasonic bath ofers signifcant advantages over traditional manual scrubbing. The use of abrasive techniques, of any kind, is detrimental to the tool surface, especially those that are highly fnished. The ultrasonic method does not invade the surface of the steel the way conventional friction-based methods do. ultrasonic cleaning uses a system called cavitation—the rapid forming and collapsing of millions of very small bubbles in a bath of water and suitable biodegradable cleaner. Although tiny, these little bubbles are tenacious fghters and will work their way into and around all mold-component surfaces—crevices, grooves, channels, blind holes … you name it, they go in it and after it. The ultrasonic process has proven itself to be extremely efective in removing the residues and contaminants from mold releases, burnt resin, and vent outgas without harming the surface of the steel. The ultrasonic cleaning cycle takes 20 minutes for most applications, with additional time or cycles required for molds running high-temperature/gassy resins. certain performance-enhancing additives (fame retardants or talc fller, for example) can also be detrimental to good mold-steel health without regular cleaning. certain grades or durometers of TPe can also be challenging to remove and require additional time and efort. colorants can sometimes stain steel and resist cleaning eforts. overall, the two primary cleaning technologies used at Mgs—dry-ice blasting and ultrasonic—are efective and reliable for most of our applications. There are a few exceptions and special considerations. Aluminum molds, for example, will be damaged by some of the solvents used in ultrasonic cleaning—so more traditional methods must be employed. now that the injection mold is thoroughly clean, it will be regreased and reassembled. All activities performed and all observations regarding wear and component performance are noted in the mold's electronic journal. The production mold is often the single most expensive piece of dedicated equipment in an injection molding cell. The argument that it is the most important piece of equipment could certainly be made. The injection molding machine costs more, but its work life can be applied toward more than one mold or product. if the press breaks down, you can temporarily move the mold to another machine—even another facility or to another molder, if need be. A robot, a conveyor, or most any piece of ancillary equipment can be replaced. but, when the mold goes down, production stops—there is no substitute. Who has the budget to build double the tooling capacity needed, just in case? Taking good care of the production mold is a priority and requires the eforts of dedicated and well trained professionals. A formal and regimented maintenance and cleaning plan must be in place to ensure a long and repeatedly productive mold life. John Berg has more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience working for OEMs and business-to-business agencies. He is marketing director for MGS Mfg. Group, a custom injection molder, moldmaker, and equipment supplier. COnTRiBuTOR: For More Information: MGS Mfg Group / / October 2013 13

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