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Because of the Tariff on Mold Tooling, This Indiana Mold Shop’s Business is Now Booming

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 20. February 2020

How important is the 25% tariff the United States recently reinstated on China-built injection mold tooling?

For Precise Tooling Solutions, this action by the federal government could not be more meaningful. Order activity is already making it clear that this will be a good year for the shop, whereas 2019 was not. By the middle of January 2020 — that is, just three weeks into this year — this Columbus, Indiana, mold builder with a staff of 40 had already booked more molds than it did for the entirety of 2019. Employees who might have grown accustomed to 40-hour weeks will now be called upon to work significant overtime. I spoke to owner and CEO Don Dumoulin about the change. How much of the upswing does he attribute to the tariff?

“All of it,” he says. The tariff went into effect during the final days of 2019. Since then, the shop has been hearing from mold buyers who had never been customers before — injection molders that, until that point, had been committed to sourcing their tooling from China.

2018 was a strong year for the shop, too. The tariff went into effect in July of that year. It was rescinded at the end of that year, and now recently restored, as the presidential administration apparently agreed with comments filed by 150 American mold builders on behalf of this action. Precise’s experience certainly demonstrates the effectiveness of the move. “The shop is humming again,” Mr. Dumoulin says. Meanwhile, he argues the tariff was also the right move.

A tariff is arbitrary, to be sure. This is one of its problems: It is a cost set by politics and bureaucracy rather than market forces and value. However, U.S. moldmakers have long struggled against arbitrary moves opposing them. Among these is the support foreign governments (China and others) give to their domestic toolmakers. By virtue of the tariff, the U.S. is now supporting its toolmakers as well.

The artificially lower cost overseas leads to another irrational factor, he says, which is the short-term actions of mold buyers. “U.S. businesses get caught up in cost savings that hurt their interests long-term,” he says. Molders saving cost by buying from foreign sources is particularly galling to him, he explains, because the mold frequently amounts to only 3-4% of the total cost of a plastic part. However, the loss of domestic moldmaking capability — a real possibility as significant amounts of mold work shift to China — would imperil plastics manufacturing. Since a new product made of plastic is defined by the mold, the ability to invent with plastics relies on access to moldmaking, and intellectual property is literally contained in the mold. If a tariff is “protectionism” — and it is — moldmaking is a capability arguably worth protecting, at least against artificial distortions.

Is 25% a fitting number? Again, arbitrary. But in this case, Mr. Dumoulin says that figure seems just right. U.S. molds are still costlier, but where the price difference compared to China used to be huge, the tariff now leaves the price of Precise’s molds generally within about 10-15%, he says. This gap is slight enough that the desire to buy domestically can close it. To many molders, the ease of proximity and the expectation of service, quality and delivery that come from sourcing from an American mold shop justify a reasonable price premium.

“Customers have always told us, if you can get the price within 20%, we will buy American,” he says. The tariff is now proving this to be true.


This story originally appeared in Modern Machine Shop magazine.

 

Manufacturing News Highlights - February 2020

12. February 2020

GWS Tool Group Acquires North American Tool Corp.

Located in Northern Illinois, North American Tool is a supplier of special taps, dies and gages.

GWS Tool Group has acquired North American Tool Corp. (NATC), the second such add-on acquisition in 2020 for GWS. With the addition of NATC, GWS says it strengthens its reputation as a multi-disciplinary manufacturer of high-performance custom cutting tools.

Located in Northern Illinois, North American Tool is a supplier of special taps, dies and gages. From solid carbide threadmills to high-speed steel taps and thread gages, North American Tool delivers specialized threading tools for applications across multiple industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical and general engineering.

“NATC is an exciting add for us,” says Rick McIntyre, CEO of GWS. “Their customer service model is one of the best in the business.”

“North American Tool is very excited to be joining GWS Tool Group, a company that embodies the attributes that have long made us successful,” says Curt Lansbery, president and CEO of NATC. “We have no doubt that this move to join GWS will be positive for our associates and will ensure the continued growth of the legacy that we have worked to develop.”

The team at NATC will continue to operate from the Illinois facility as a manufacturing arm of GWS Tool Group, and the company expresses intent toward continued investment in the facility, machinery and equipment, and human resources. Customers of NATC are said to expect continuity of the NATC offering and customer service disposition under GWS ownership.

 
 

Additive Manufacturing Conference Announces Call for Speakers

This year, the conference is seeking additive manufacturing end users in particular to come and present about their use of the technology.

The Additive Manufacturing Conference has announced a call for presentations for the 2020 edition. The event will take place September 15-16, 2020, at McCormick Place in Chicago alongside the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), North America’s largest manufacturing trade show.

“Our annual call for speakers has turned into a particularly rewarding part of developing our conference,” says Peter Zelinski, editor-in-chief of Additive Manufacturing. “Every year, through this call, we end up hearing from people advancing AM — people we weren’t aware of before they contacted us who are excited to share their work.”

This year, the call for speakers will serve a more focused purpose than it has in the past. Conference organizers are seeking presentations specifically from end users of additive manufacturing technology — that is, companies succeeding in a significant way at making production parts or tooling additively, or researchers unaffiliated with a technology supplier who are making important strides in learning what AM can do and how to advance its capabilities.

The deadline for papers is April 30, 2020. Abstracts can be submitted online.

Speakers receive a complimentary pass to the conference, access to the IMTS exhibit hall, download of the proceedings after the event and an invitation to all networking activities, including the grand reception.

Additive Manufacturing Conference attendees represent companies of all shapes, sizes and specialties, ranging from multinational OEMs to independent contract machine shops, covering a wide range of end markets and job titles. Their common interest is in evolving their application of industrial additive manufacturing technologies.

 
 

Renishaw Appoints New President

A 33-year industry veteran, Denis Zayia has worked for Renishaw since 1995. 

Denis Zayia

Renishaw Inc. has appointed Denis Zayia as president of its U.S. operations. He replaces Howard Salt who, while turning over the responsibilities of day-to-day operations, will continue to provide service to the organization as senior business manager of encoder systems.

A 33-year industry veteran, Mr. Zayia started with Renishaw as coordinate measuring machine business manager in 1995 and became national sales manager for industrial metrology in 2008. Prior to this most recent appointment, Mr. Zayia was vice president of sales and marketing, where he was responsible for Renishaw’s line of industrial metrology and additive manufacturing products. 

“Renishaw has been developing industry-changing products and end-to-end solutions for over 40 years,” Mr. Zayia says, reflecting on the past of the company he now heads. “Our first product was a touch trigger probe, which was developed to solve a manufacturing problem on Concorde engines. Today, we are helping manufacturers driven by the goals of Industry 4.0 with a wide range of technologies including additive, motion control, healthcare, spectroscopy, quality assurance and process control. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to lead the organization through its next phase of growth.”

 
 

Coordinate Metrology Society Establishes Two-Tier CMM Certification

The first level certification is comprised of an online test, while the second level is a test of at least 400 hours of CMM expertise.

The Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) has launched the industry’s first Level-One and Level-Two Certifications for traditional coordinate measuring machine (CMM) professionals. Applicants for the CMS Level-One Certification must submit an application, meet eligibility requirements, sign the CMS code of ethics and pass a peer review. Candidates for the CMS Level-Two Certification must possess a Level-One Certification, have two years experience using a CMM (minimum 400 hours) and submit an application with two references who can confirm their expertise. Both examinations will be conducted by CMS-authorized proctors.

Qualifying candidates will be notified and scheduled for an examination slot at the upcoming Coordinate Metrology Society Conference scheduled for July 2020. Certification guidelines, fees, and application forms are available at cmsc.org

The Level-One Certification examination is a proctored, online assessment consisting of about 200 multiple-choice questions covering foundational theory and practice common to most traditional CMMs. Additionally, the CMS offers a device-specific CMS Level-Two Certification examination, which is a practical, hands-on performance assessment for CMM operators. Once an application is processed and approved, the assessment can also be scheduled throughout the year at an authorized CMS Assessment Facility in various North American locations. Additional fees may apply.

 

Metalworking Index Improves, Led by Supplier Deliveries

Posted by: Michael Guckes 23. January 2020
GBI Metalworking graph

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking closed 2019 registering an improved reading of 48.2. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity.  The further away a reading is from 50, the greater the magnitude of change in business activity. The Index’s recent upward movement toward 50 indicates that business activity is contracting more slowly than in the prior month. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index components observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by an expansion in supplier deliveries. We saw no change in new orders and slightly contracting activity in exports, production and employment (although the contraction of those three components in January is less than December). Only backlogs prevented the Index from moving higher. Backlogs ended the year registering a sharp contractionary reading.

 

GBI: Metalworking – Backlogs (3MMA)
Backlog activity contracted faster than any other Index component during the second half of 2019. This was driven in part by the relatively faster contraction in exports and new orders activity as compared to production.

 

2019 was a year of transition for the Metalworking Index. The start of the year saw all components except exports continue their expansionary trends first observed in early 2017. Data collecting during the first quarter witnessed slowing growth in backlogs as new orders growth was outpaced by production gains. It was not until the second half of the 2019 that new orders activity abruptly slowed with July’s reading registering the first contraction in new orders since late 2016. The sharp transition in new order activity resulted in a steep contraction in backlogs, a trend that would be exacerbated throughout the remainder of 2019. 

 

New Specs: Turning, Milling and Grinding Machines from DMG MORI

8. January 2020
new specs DMG MORI

Techspex has added and updated dozens of machine specs to our database of machine tools from DMG MORI

Among the turning center additions, which include the NZX, NT, SL and Sprint series, is the NTX 1000 multitasking mill-turn. It performs simultaneous five-axis machining of complex parts with the direct-drive motor (DDM) installed in the B axis. 

Among the milling machine additions, which include the DMF and DMU series, is the DMC 160 U DuoBlock universal machining center. The machine enables milling and turning in one setup with the direct-drive table and rotational speeds up to 400 rpm.

Grinder additions include the Vertical Mate 55, 85 and 125; the CVG 6 and CVG 9; and the PGV 3

You can see and compare among Starrag’s machines newly added machine specs by visiting its Techspex showroom, linked above. While you’re taking note, be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter and follow us on Twitter @techspex to stay current on additions and updates to the Techspex database.

 

Manufacturing News from Arch Cutting Tools, API Inc., Unison and Siemens

13. December 2019

Arch Cutting Tools Hires Arch Specials Business Development Coordinator

Charlie Novak Jr. previously spent seven years with Fives Landis – Citgo Diamond as a product manager.

Arch Cutting Tools has hired Charlie Novak Jr. as business development coordinator for the company’s Arch Specials business. In this role, he will develop the cooperative efforts of cutting tool business units supporting Arch Specials, put to work his applications and sales skills filtering Arch Specials RFQs, provide gatekeeping to internal quotation routings, and support sales staff. 

Mr. Novak has experience in design and production of tools as well as customer-facing roles with applications and products. He comes to Arch from Fives Landis – Citgo Diamond, where he most recently spent seven years as product manager of PCD/CBN cutting tools and grinding wheel and wheel dressing products, as well as overseeing R&D and new product development. 

Prior to Fives Landis, Mr. Novak spent seven years with Competitive Carbide (Arch-Mentor) as a custom cutting tool CAD designer, and then in manufacturing in CAM/CNC Programming.

 
 

API Launches Recertified Laser Tracker Platform

The website enables users to buy pre-owned laser trackers at a discount. The trackers are nevertheless rigorously tested for precision.

API laser tracker

API Services, provider of on-site metrology and laser tracker rental services, has launched a Recertified Laser Tracker platform. API Services is a wholly owned division of Automated Precision Inc. (API) whose CEO, Kam Lau, invented the laser tracker. Laser trackers are said to perform CMM-style measurements quickly and accurately without the part logistics associated with transporting parts to a centralized quality laboratory.

A recertified laser tracker is said to enable first-time tracker users to receive the benefits of the technology at a significant discount compared to buying new. According to API, recent market surveys estimate that the use of laser trackers by the manufacturing industry will increase by 13% per year (CAGR) over the next five years.

All API Recertified Laser Trackers undergo a rigorous factory inspection process and are recertified to the B89.4.19 standard at the API Services IS0 17015-certified facility. Each tracker comes standard with a 12-month full parts and labor warranty. Recertified laser trackers can be supplied with metrology software such as Verisurf, Polyworks and Spatial Analyzer. Trackers are supplied with an initial Spherically Mounted Retroreflector (SMR). Additional tracker accessories are available to customize the laser tracker to customer specific measurement applications.

The comprehensive inventory of pre-owned trackers can be found at used-lasertrackers.com.

 
 

Unison Corp. Promotes General Manager

Robert Baker has 25 years of company experience in various areas, and will take over manufacturing operations for the firm. 

Robert Baker of Unison Corp.

Unison Corp. (Ferndale, Michigan), a builder of precision grinding equipment, has promoted Robert Baker to its Senior Management Team. As general manager, Mr. Baker will be responsible for the company’s manufacturing operations. He will also assist in sales and service of the company’s grinding machines. 

Mr. Baker has worked for Unison for over 25 years, having gained experience in various areas of the company. “I am looking forward to my new leadership responsibilities at Unison, given the tremendous growth opportunities for the company,” he says. 

 
 

Siemens Launches Additive Manufacturing Network

The Siemens AM Network is designed for enterprises, suppliers and partners that are looking to accelerate the adoption of AM for industrial processes and applications.

Siemens announced today the official launch and general availability of the Siemens Additive Manufacturing (AM) Network following successful pilot implementations with customers and partners, including Decathlon, Siemens Gas & Power, Siemens Mobility, HP and Materialise. The Siemens AM Network provides a cloud-based platform designed to foster collaboration and process orchestration between engineers, procurement and suppliers of 3D printed parts. Providing an end-to-end digital process that connects the demand for parts with a supplier network is expected to enable globally distributed manufacturing. 

The Siemens AM Network is designed for enterprises, suppliers and partners that are looking to accelerate the adoption of AM for industrial processes and applications. It digitalizes the order-to-delivery process by aligning the engineering and commercial processes for high-quality AM functional prototypes and serial production parts, Siemens says. The system connects buyers with a global supplier network which streamlines the process, fosters collaboration and engagement, and orchestrates the workflow to increase throughput and reduce operational costs. As part of the Siemens’ suite of Software as a Service (SaaS) products, the AM Network meets the most stringent requirements for security, availability and regulatory compliance, the company says.

“Siemens’ additive manufacturing experts and industry veterans have developed the additive manufacturing network based on a clear understanding of the complexities and needs of the industry, fostered by a sincere passion to promote the adoption of AM in the industrial domain,” says Zvi Feuer, senior vice president of manufacturing engineering at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “As buyers, sellers and partners continue to plug into the ecosystem, they will find a streamlined, modular solution that can grow with each company’s individual needs.”

Earlier in 2019, Siemens and HP introduced a joint additive manufacturing solution targeting the automotive industry and other key industrial markets. That partnership is expanding with the integration of HP’s 3D printing technology and Digital Manufacturing Network partners with the Siemens AM Network. The HP Digital Manufacturing Network is a global community of digital manufacturing service providers with the capabilities to help design, produce and deliver high-quality plastic and metal final parts at scale using HP‘s Multi Jet Fusion and Metal Jet 3D printing products.

The Siemens AM Network is now open for registration at additive-manufacturing-network.sws.siemens.com.

 
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