Leestijd: 4 min.

Mould development in the Netherlands

Are you familiar with our tool shop in Boxtel? It is where we develop and manufacture moulds for injection moulding and metal injection moulding (MIM), as well as stamps for the punching of precision machinery. Our tool shop specialises in the design and development of the most sophisticated tools. We talk to our colleague Bert about his work in the tool shop.

Interview with our manager toolshop

Can you briefly explain what it is you do in the tool shop? What does the tool shop entail? The activities in our tool shop can be divided into two main categories: 1) Developing, manufacturing and completing new injection moulds, test jigs and fixtures. 2) Maintaining, modify and repairing tools from our production departments. What activities make working in the tool shop so great? Everyone who works in the tool shop will have a different answer to this question because of their respective jobs. In general, the work we do in the tool shop is both diverse and challenging. Since we do not produce serial products, we face new challenges each and every time. We are happy when the very first test injection with a new mould produces a fine product within the narrow quality specifications. What do people often underestimate about the activities conducted in the tool shop? Most people underestimate just how long it takes to conduct certain activities. There are usually no quick fixes or easy solutions.

What are the steps involved in the production of a mould?

Producing a mould is often a lengthy and complex process that cannot be described in just a few words. In general, the process looks as follows: 1. The tool shop's work begins once the design drawings made by the engineering department are ready. 2. Our work preparation department orders all necessary materials (steel) and standardised parts. 3. The work preparation department also determines and records how each component has to be made, including the routing through the tool shop. 4. The various components each have their own routine; some simple components are done after a single processing step, while other parts require a more extensive and lengthier production process. 5. Eventually, all components end up with the toolmaker who uses them to construct the finished mould. What do you use to repair a mould when it breaks? That largely depends on the type of damage; in some cases, we have spare parts available and can easily replace the damaged components. In other cases, we can repair the damaged or broken components with laser welding and post-processing. In the event of serious damage, we may have to produce entirely new components. Fortunately, we can take care of that quickly in our own tool shop. Lastly, standardised components such as ejector pins and rails may break. We keep a limited inventory of such parts and our suppliers can usually quickly deliver anything we need. What kind of equipment/software do you use? We use various machines. Since many of these machines are computer-controlled, we also use various software programs in our work. Our most important machines are:
  • CNC milling/drilling machines 3-axle and 5-axle, e.g. Hermle with robot/pallet system.
  • CNC HSM (High Speed machine), Yasda for high-accuracy milling work.
  • Electrical discharge machining (EDM).
  • Spark erosion machines.
  • Grinders. An assortment of conventional machines, measurement tools and hand tools.

How do you test the mould once it is finished? We test moulds by ourselves because our location does have injection-moulding machines. We do inspect every single component before it is used to assemble the mould. Of course, we devote special attention to things like contact zones and we make sure the cooling system in the mould is entirely free of leaks. If the mould has a built-in hot-runner system, we test it with a special hot-runner test unit. What are the benefits of having an on-site tool shop? As described above, the work we do in our tool shop can be divided into two categories. For both, having an on-site tool shop is a major advantage. For our customers, it is very appealing to be able to outsource the mould production and the injection-moulding process itself to the same organisation. We act as a one-stop shop for our customers. Furthermore, the combination of injection moulding and mould production results in short lines of communication and it allows the people in both our injection-moulding department and our tool shop to further expand their knowledge. Another important benefit is our ability to respond quickly to a malfunction or other forms of damage to a mould that occur during an ongoing production process. We can avoid the delays that result from having to communicate with and transport moulds to and from an external tool shop. Our on-site tool shop The engineers in our tool shop have more than six hundred years of experience with the design and production of complex moulds. It is often a challenge to meet the high demands of our customers in the automotive industry. However, the aforementioned wealth of experience and our staff's endless drive allows us to achieve the desired results each and every time. We are proud of our work - and it shows!