Mold Maintenance & Repair

OCT 2014

Mold Maintenance & Repair

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F E AT U R E 14 Mold Maintenance & Repair process is more suitable for parts with textured or mirror-smooth surfaces that might otherwise require additional polishing, and possibly even re-annealing, to achieve consistent hardness and fnish. A Versatile System The frst of the three companies to integrate laser welding, Stone Plastics & Manufacturing opted for an HTS 160-Watt Mobile from O.R. Laser, which had shipped the unit to Stone's facility so the team could "kick the tires," Oles says. The way he talks about the HTS Mobile, that's not just a turn of phrase—the machine's durability was one of the key selling points for the 265-employee company. "Normally, you'd worry about knocking the crosshairs out of whack if you bump it or something, but every- thing stays right where it needs to be," he says. Durability is particularly important because of another key selling point of this particular welder: mobility. True to its name, the HTS Mobile is designed to be moved easily to the work, rather than the other way around. That's an important capability because a signifcant portion of the molds at Stone's 170,000-square-foot facility are large enough to run in 1,000-ton presses. Just as important- ly, the welder's Nd: YAG optics are mounted on an arm that can be extended, raised/low- ered and swiveled 180 degrees via a digital joystick to reach any part of the work. "Some of these molds are as big as a kitchen table," Tatarchuk says. "If we need an intricate detail welded, we can wheel the machine over, put half the mold on sawhorses, and just pivot the head over the top." He adds that the welder is among the most commonly used equipment in the toolroom, estimating that it runs consistently for at least 60 percent of all three shifts. In part, that's thanks to onsite training from O.R. Laser, which helped all seven toolroom employ- ees get comfortable with the basics Notably, learning to laser weld has made employees like Gabe Ensing, an apprentice and one of the machine's frequent operators, better at other work—and better at limiting the need for other work. "If I'm stoning off a weld, I know what to look for, and I can use the microscope on the welder as an extra tool to spot a ding or a rolled corner a lot more easily," Ensing explains. "If I'm the one actually doing the weld, I can take extra care to limit the amount of benchwork that has to be done later." Beyond Repair and Maintenance It didn't take long for news of Stone Plastics' new capability to reach Paragon Die, located about half an hour's drive away. The molder and toolmaker have an amiable relationship, and Paragon was quick to purchase its own HTS Examples of work at Paragon D&E. As exemplified by the "1" on the test piece at left, using the HTS Mobile lase welder to fill in roughly 0.004-inch-deep scribe lines enables Paragon D&E to move, change or eliminate the engravings with only minor touchup work. The mold inserts on the right required laser-welding about 0.01 inch of material onto the shoulder without warping the finger. Images courtesy of Paragon D&E.

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