Exceptional Machinability Leads Chicago-Area
SCHILLER PARK, Illinois Bob Caldrone and his 30-year-old company, Glo-Mold, Inc., have more experience close to 12 years than most plastic injection moldmakers who use aluminum as an alternative to steel because of its many advantages.
With customer approval, the particular alloy he now buys exclusively for prototypes and tools that must produce up to 100,000 parts "is far superior in every way," he says, to all others his shop employees have tried over the years. "They marvel at how it cuts like butter, which means our cutters don't get clogged. It doesn't get gummy like QC-7 and others but actually cuts like soft steel. During every machining process, it's amazing how the scrap flies right off."
That and other benefits of the Fortal® aluminum he buys, as plate or completed mold bases from Superior Die Set Corporation, translate to faster delivery of molds to his customers, in addition to reduced labor costs. Also, says Glo-Mold's vice president-manufacturing, "There's no expansion of the material from heat like there is with other alloys, and Fortal holds up just as well as P-20 and other types of steel.#quot;
Among Glo-Mold's many major customers, he claims, is a company called In-Room Systems, a manufacturer of hotel-room refrigerators for the convenience of guests. "When we started prototyping, they didn't care what we used, and we used Fortal for the timesavings and other reasons. When the customer saw how well the prototypes held up, they wanted to go to multiple cavities. We just used the prototype cavity and threw another into the tool without any problem whatsoever."
"We use Fortal," Caldrone adds, "because the prototype might in fact become the finished mold for the customer. If he's serious about going into any type of multiple cavities, you don't give him a throw-away $1,500 prototype but rather one for $2,500, with a Fortal base, that he can use as his production tool. We point this out, as we did with In-Room Systems, when we're talking to both new and repeat customers."
He continues: "If someone tells me he wants a million parts from a tool, I would never make it out of aluminum because it just doesn't have the properties to withstand that requirement. The specific plastic material also affects the aluminum versus steel decision, because some polycarbonates, for example are very abrasive and harmful. And aluminum produces a dull finish, not a polished appearance if that's what the customer wants on the part.
"But aluminum's benefits to the moldmaker in particular are great," he says, "and we recommend that others give what we purchase a try, and experience the appeal it has to us. When customers are increasing their demands for fast turn-around of orders, and as labor costs are always going higher," Caldrone notes, "companies like ours shouldn't wear blinders to what can help us do a better job for ourselves and the customer at the same time."
For further information about Fortal, contact Superior Die Set Corporation, 900 West Drexel Avenue, Oak Creek, Wisconsin 53154, phone (800) 558-6040. The company is the exclusive distributor in North America for the French-produced, aircraft quality aluminum that is used worldwide in a broad range of applications.
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