Milacron’s Mold-Masters product brand is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its European headquarters in Baden-Baden, Germany. For 30 years, the manufacturing facility and administrative office have been manufacturing, selling and supporting hot runners and control systems.
Mold-Masters began its journey in 1963 as a small shop in Toronto, Canada. Lead by founders Jobst and Waltraud Gellert, Mold-Masters became the first company to exclusively manufacture hot runners. From humble beginnings, Mold-Masters grew by leaps and bounds to become a global leader not only in hot runners but also temperature controllers systems and a proud member of Milacron. Mold-Masters EMEA+India President Hans Hagelstein was quoted: “Mold-Masters is the producer of the world’s best injection melt delivery systems. Mold-Masters is celebrating 30 years of producing superior hot runners in Europe, and we’re also honoring 30 years of passionate, hardworking associates that have made us so successful. It will be the continuing contributions of Mold-Masters associates that will ensure the next 30 years are even more prosperous.”
As a world leader in hot runner and process control technology, Mold-Masters has been investing heavily in research and development for over 55 years. The company has one of the largest footprints, resources and capacity of any hot runner manufacturer. Employing over 2,000 people worldwide, Mold-Masters operates production and service branches in Germany, Canada, USA, China, and India as well as sales offices in more than 70 other countries.
The company offers a comprehensive range of products used by the global plastics industry including hot runner systems, controllers and auxiliary equipment. Mold-Master's products are used to manufacture a vast range of plastic components with high quality and great productivity. From simple to highly technical and small to large, Mold-Masters equipment can be found in every industry including medical, automotive, packaging, electronics and household appliances.
Customer proximity and comprehensive services
Customer Service, plays a major role in the company's ability to attract and maintain customer loyalty. When Mold-Masters is involved early in the prototype and concept phase, it can play a comprehensive role in shaping the fundamental requirements with regard to the optimum use of hot runner technology. This can also shorten delivery times and save customer costs associated with trial and error, especially on challenging applications. Mold-Masters is required by numerous customers in the specifications of tenders. This is where worldwide availability and service becomes especially important. The company's worldwide network ensures close customer proximity.
Responsibility for aftermarket customer support lands on Mold-Masters Master-Care services, a dedicated team offering a comprehensive range of customer support services. The services include spare parts supply, remote technical support, field service, and repairs, refurbishment and lifecycle preventative maintenance. Customers often call for the services in breakdown situations where downtime is costly and getting back into production is essential. This is why Mold-Masters manages a large global inventory of spare parts in warehouses strategically positioned to ensure the parts needed are always close by and available with short lead times. Furthermore, the “eSTORE” (estore.milacron.com) online service platform provides customers with the ability to order standard spare parts 24/7. There is also the possibility of contacting the technical support via telephone. Many problems can be solved this way, which gets customers back into production faster but also avoids costly service visits and prevents additional delays, saving their customers money. Where issues are more complicated, experienced Master-Care technicians, with an average of 15-year tenure, are on hand who deliver service with high quality workmanship and turnover speed. Systems can be shipped to one of the local service centres or be serviced on-site.
However, the best way to prevent having to react to unscheduled downtimes is to be proactive with proper mould maintenance. Master-Care offers both, refurbishment services and a lifecycle preventative maintenance programme. With Hot Runner Refurbishments, Mold-Masters Master-Care restores hot runner systems to “like-new” condition, which ensures that part quality, reliability and productivity return to their original levels at a cost that is more economical than purchasing a new hot runner system. Refurbishment service includes using state of the art cleaning processes and replacing worn and damaged components. Finally, before being shipped back to the customer, all tolerances are checked to confirm everything remains in spec, as designed. Preventative maintenance programmes are ideal for customers who are looking for more on-going and continued proactive maintenance. Mold-Masters estimates that one hour of preventative maintenance can save five hours or more of unscheduled downtime. The preventative maintenance plans are therefore designed to simplify hot runner maintenance and to help eliminate breakdowns.
The confidence of the customers is ensured by using global manufacturing standards. Mold-Masters hot runner systems and accessories are manufactured to the same quality standards at different locations worldwide. Global resources are optimised for the production spectrum and dimensioned for maximum utilisation. A high degree of flexibility is achieved through the company's own resources.
The European headquarters near Baden-Baden, Germany currently employs around 250 people, making it one of the largest local employers. Special emphasis is placed on internal training and various apprenticeships to ensure knowledge is retained and shared with the next generation of hot runner experts to continue to build vast knowledge and maintain high design standard best practices.
Still, digitisation remains one of the key priorities for being able to expand future capabilities and services at Milacron. Known as M-Powered, the company's technological suite of software solutions incorporates a range of sensors to collect data that is used to provide moulders with valuable insight. Utilising easy-to-use observational, analytical and support solutions, customers have the tools to improve their operations' performance, quality and availability through Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). This translates into improved productivity, and most importantly, profitability. As the technology continues to develop, customers will be able to make even higher quality plastic parts, eliminate scrap, minimise costs and downtime with complete autonomy.
M-Powered also includes full application programming interface (API) integration which aims to continuously improve asset utilisation and production efficiency. The latest Milacron M-Powered enabled products will be featured by Mold-Masters Master-Care aftermarket solutions at Fakuma, including the latest virtual remote technical assistance service.
Mold-Masters hot runner systems built on 55 years of experience
Hot runner technologies are the core of Mold-Masters and they continue to push the boundaries for melt delivery performance. A few firsts introduced by Mold-Masters have been Brazed Heater Technology, i-Flow 2pc Brazed Manifold Technology and APS Control Technology. This has lead to the introduction of a comprehensive product line up of industry-leading hot runners and temperature control systems.
Mold-Masters’ Master-Series hot runners are defined as being the benchmark in performance and reliability and represents a product that incorporates over 55 years of processing knowledge and experience. With over 1,500,000 nozzles in the field, which can be found in every industry, Mold-Masters has built a solid reputation based on performance, part quality and exceptional processing capabilities with a wide range of resins even the most challenging resins. Master-Series hot runners feature excellent thermal profiles balance and precision. Open flow runner channels in the nozzle/gate seal permit accelerated melt flow and dispersion with virtually no dead or blind spots, a characteristic which is critical to eliminating degradation. Something that is a common challenge while processing bio-resins for instance.
Bio Resins are gaining in popularity and as more regions and markets (such as packaging) encourage the use of these bio-resins, the ability for hot runners to process them will be paramount. As a proven bio-resin processor, Mold-Masters is ready with its Master-Series hot runners. The Masters-Series has been extensively tested using a wide variety of bio-resins. Hundreds of these systems are already in the field successfully processing bio-resins producing small to medium size parts in single nozzle to high cavity systems running in every major market around the world.
Mold-Masters continues to develop and rethink its products to improve its designs and meet market demand. Based on Mold-Masters’ successful Melt-Cube advanced side gating technology, the recent introduction of the second generation Melt-Cube Evo minimises downtime and enhances process capabilities. Melt-Cube Evo shares the familiar appearance of its predecessor but features a simplified design making it significantly faster and easier to maintain and service. Tips are clamped in pairs and can be replaced individually by removing only a single bolt. This straightforward design, which can also be accessed from the parting line, reduces assembly and disassembly times by up to 85 percent, potentially saving up to five hours on a 64-drop system. Along with a new simplified design, there are also performance enhancements. Tips are located to the gate so they are not influenced by thermal expansion maintaining critical tolerances to maintain high part quality. This has also been found to be reliably leak-proof even with high-melt-flow-index materials over a wider process window.
Melt-Cube Evo also incorporates Brazed Heater Technology for precise thermal profiles and superior reliability. The Melt-Cube product line is known for its excellent vestige control, low-pressure drop and precise cavity-to-cavity rheological balance. The Melt-Cube side gating solution eliminates wasteful sub-runners and offers higher pitch density than circular systems for greater production output. It is the perfect solution for high cavitation moulds producing deep draw medical parts such as pipette tips, syringe barrels, needle shields and more.
Mold-Masters has also rolled out a number of additions and enhancements to Fusion-Series G2, a drop-in system popular in the automotive industry for high-quality large part production. Maximised for uptime, the Fusion-Series G2 hot runner system is delivered completely pre-assembled and pre-plumbed, saving significant set-up time in order to allow customers to get back into production right away. Incorporating features like field replaceable heater bands ensures that any maintenance is quick and easy. Fusion G2 is capable of shot sizes from <15g to over 3,500g. New for the Fusion G2 at Fakuma show are the F3000 and F8000 nozzles which expand the capabilities and applications of this system.
F3000 has a shot capacity of <15g which is ideal for smaller underhood components, technical automotive components, price sensitive packaging and consumer good applications. The F8000 increases shot capacity of the system further than ever before to 5,000g by utilising runner diameters up to 28mm. Nozzle lengths are also available that exceed 1m. F8000 has been developed to meet the processing requirements of common large automotive components like fascias, instrument panels, door panels and also large white goods.
The Dura+ hot runner systems has been specifically engineered to produce consistent high-quality parts with exceptional clarity. Engineered to perform with today's challenging resins it is compatible with abrasive and corrosive resins such as PC, PC-ABS & PMMA. With its introduction, enhancements over the previous Dura system include new Dura+ nozzles, stainless steel construction and a highly polished runner finish which work together to improve process capabilities, provide greater system durability and prevents contamination defects of moulded parts. Cycle time improvements of 22% and an extremely low scrap rate of 0.8% have been observed. With standardised components, the Dura+ system also ensures faster delivery time, easy installation and user-friendly maintenance.
Precise process control and stability for moulding
Mold-Masters Temp-Master Series hot runner temperature controllers offer precise control, process stability and reliability accompanied with a range of advanced features. At the core of each Temp-Master controller is its APS (Adaptive Process System) control technology, an auto-tuning control algorithm, that continuously monitors and makes almost instantaneous micro adjustments. It ensures that zone temperatures are precisely maintained to set point for optimal process control and stability. APS is said to have the ability to optimise the performance of any hot runner system.
All Temp-Master controllers feature intuitive colour touch-screen controls, modular control cards and industry leading compact cabinet dimensions. Temp-Master controllers have the capability to control from 1 to over 500 zones and are compatible with global industry standards. In many cases, customers can turn on their controller and start production right away.
The enhanced flagship Temp-Master M2+ controller now includes new cutting-edge touchscreen technology with a more modernised control interface and larger screen sizes. A tablet-like, crisp hi-resolution display incorporates more powerful processors than before for a noticeable boost in speed and response. Response to touch inputs is instantaneous so users can adjust process values and navigate screens without any noticeable delay. Data is displayed in real time (no averaging) and even utilizes familiar gestures like pinch-to-zoom.
The Temp-Master M2+ remains the most compact in its class. It is up to 57 percent more compact overall and has a footprint up to 53 percent smaller than competitive systems. This preserves a significant amount of valuable floor space and makes units easier to handle. Only the M2+ can be seamlessly integrated with many advanced control options like SVG, E-Drive Synchro Plate, M-Ax Servo Control and Water Flow Monitoring for more efficient centralised control of each moulding cell.
The Temp-Master-Series now also includes the M-Ax Auxiliary Servo controller. Users can control up to 8 linear and rotary servo axis for great accuracy and easy process adjustments of automated mould functions. These include core pulls, index plates, ejector plates, valve gates and more. Temp-Master M-Ax can also be combined with up to 256 zones of Temp-Master M2 temperature control.
Another new product is the Se-VG+ system where servos are used to provide individual valve pin actuation control and precision of valve gate flow sequence of up to 16 cavities. It’s now possible to fully adjust pin position, stroke, speed, protrusion, timing and sequence with the ability to programme up to 10 multi-step opening and closing profiles. These are critical capabilities that greatly enhance moulded part quality helping to eliminate surface defects and improve mould balance. Powerful servos make this ideal for even the largest part production (including automotive) and family moulds.
LSR capabilities and connected solutions
The E-Multi is Mold-Masters’ all-electric servo controlled thermoplastic auxiliary injection unit. Using an E-Multi allows moulders to easily and economically convert any existing injection moulding machine equipment over to multi-shot and multi-material moulding capabilities. The proven E-Multi platform is fully compatible with any injection moulding machine and well suited for precision moulding applications. An E-Multi variant has recently been introduced to be compatible with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) expanding its capabilities even further.
Another solution that utilises E-Multi in conjunction with Mold-Masters's patented Kortec co-injection hot runner designs is the Kortec Connect package. This allows moulders a cost-effective entry into co-injection with minimal investment and risk. The Kortec Connect package includes everything needed to convert an existing single-shot machinery for co-injection capabilities. Using this package allows customers to reduce their capital investment requirements by up to 85 percent.
Milacron’s co-injection engineers work hand in hand with customers to customise the Kortec Connect solution for the specific application. A team of engineers collaborates with customers on their existing equipment via system audits to optimise machine functionality. Once completed, the Milacron/Mold-Masters team of engineers personally ensures that the system is up and running with their new co-injection capabilities.