Mould Making Standard parts ensure flexibility of an exceptional partner

From Richard Pergler

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FU-KS Formenbau sets itself apart with an extensive customer portfolio in different industries. This flexibility results from the company’s skilled employees, high-performance machinery and partnered suppliers. When it comes to standard parts, the company relies on products from Knarr.

Knarr supplies plates made of Toolox 33 and Toolox 44. With the right drill from precision tool manufacturer Gühring, the holes in this material can be drilled in a very uncomplicated and process-reliable manner.
Knarr supplies plates made of Toolox 33 and Toolox 44. With the right drill from precision tool manufacturer Gühring, the holes in this material can be drilled in a very uncomplicated and process-reliable manner.
(Source: Knarr)

Mould making company FU-KS Formenbau in Lemgo, in the Lippe district of North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany, manufactures injection moulds primarily for technical applications, but also for the automotive, aerospace and advertising sectors, furniture, the computer industry and many more. The injection moulds built here offer dimensions of up to 1000 × 800 mm.

“In this respect, the selection of prototype and pre-production aluminium tools ranges from unscrewing moulds, elastomer and duroplast tools up to and including complex, multi-component tools with a multitude of different designs”, explains Wilhelm Fedorow, who serves as one of the company’s managing directors alongside Stephan Lück and Klaus Siekmann . “For us, quality is paramount — at the same time, we are very flexible and fast.” A wide range of different materials is processed. The majority of which are classic tool steels, but also copper, bronze, hard materials or graphite are machined here. The relatively young team at FU-KS Formenbau is highly motivated and always open to new experiences.

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Mould makers use ultra-high-performance machinery — when milling, the company now prefers to rely on Hermle machines while the latest EDM comes from OPS Ingersoll. And in-house programming means that the mould makers are very flexible when it comes to accommodating the requirements and needs of their customers.

The machining experts at FU-KS Formenbau are known not only in the sector itself: In addition to mould making customers from a wide range of sectors, customers often include founders, start-ups and numerous inventors, but also private persons with a wide variety of needs. The range spans from repairing an item of everyday use up to and including professional projects.

“I think it’s great that there are people who handle things like that”, explains Fedorow. “Universities also often come to us — their needs may, for example, involve highly specialised parts for racing vehicles or for research projects. We support all our customers equally with our expertise.” This openness on equal footing pays off: “Often even the smallest projects with private customers can provide new ideas and experience, which helps us to progress further in our daily business”, explains Fedorow regarding the policy of the toolmakers. “Even if it is just an exotic material one learns more about. We have a very young and highly motivated team that enjoys taking on new challenges.”

Smooth machining guaranteed

Reliable partners who are capable of delivery in a rapid and straightforward manner are the precondition to enable the mould makers to provide the flexibility needed for small and large projects. To an increasing degree, Fedorow’s team relies on standard parts from the manufacturer Knarr, based in Helmbrechts, Germany.

In the past, the specialist for standard parts was known first and foremost for its ejector pins. Now I get everything there I need to build an injection mould.

Wilhelm Fedorow

About 13 years ago, the first part the Lemgo toolmaker ordered from Knarr was a stepless ejector sleeve, which is still part of its product portfolio. Now, nearly the entire range of their products is ordered from Knarr — from ejector pins up to and including guiding elements and plate material.

As an alternative to 1.2311/1.2312, the manufacturer plates are now often made of Toolox 33. Occasionally, FU-KS also relies on the quenched and tempered material Toolox 44. “Mould makers are sometimes of the opinion that this Swedish engineering and tool steel is much more difficult to process than the conventional standard tool steels 1.2311 or 1.2312”, explains Fedorow. “That’s not the way we see it – we started off working with Toolox 44 on a trial basis and were very sceptical at first given that it is a tempered material. But we were very pleasantly surprised to discover its good processing properties. We now work first and foremost with Toolox 33, as is offers very good machinability and is a better alternative to other conventional tool steels.”

When it comes to processing the material, the right drilling tool is decisive — which they found quickly with their tool supplier partner Gühring. “Now, we have virtually no problems when processing”, explains the managing director. “We have a very good handle on the material. As with every new material, one must address its unique properties. Then everything will go smoothly. Toolox is a material that we enjoy working with and we intend to use it to an increasing degree in the long term.”

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As the material is already given three to five weeks’ time in the steel mill to — during the annealing process — relieve any tension that may be present from casting and rolling, there are no unpleasant surprises from distortion when processing it.

Generally, milling goes very smoothly. “Particularly with 1.2312, there is occasionally still tension in the material — as it has destroyed the odd miller cutter of ours”, mentions Fedorow. “We don’t have this problem with Toolox.”

The quenched and tempered steel Toolox 44 is in turn perfectly suited for all tool parts subject to substantial wear. Its properties ensure reliable, low-maintenance and long-lasting tools. And when repairs are necessary, using the pre-hardened Swedish steel saves precious time.

The specialists at FU-KS Formenbau use it regularly to the benefit of their customers: “When it’s crunch time, we can respond very quickly with Toolox 44”, stresses Fedorow. “Thanks to our philosophy, the high level of flexibility of our employees and our high-performance machinery, we have also made a name for ourselves when it comes to getting repairs done fast. And for all other tasks that don’t require tempered steel, for me, Toolox 33 is clearly the better alternative to conventional tool steels.”

In addition to the high quality and high stock availability of the standard parts, practitioners appreciate their partner’s swift, straightforward approach to handling orders. “Now, we often just sent the parts list from the design department to our contact person at Knarr”, explains Fedorow. “She takes care of compiling the right components together for the mould. If something is not plausible, she double-checks with us. We’re pleased to know that the counterparts at our standard parts partner have a firm grasp of the process and always keep an eye out to ensure that everything fits.”

This saves time and helps prevent mistakes from happening. An advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated – especially in today’s day and age where deadlines in mould making are generally very tight. Working with Knarr means that the parcel from Helmbrechts contains all the right items for sure. “What’s more, at Knarr everything is taken care of very quickly — without delay”, explains Fedorow. “Everything is right there. Generally, just one call is enough. Therefore, I do not have to keep searching or asking around until I get the right expert. After all, in everyday business, I often don’t have time for that. The contact persons at Knarr know exactly what we tool and mould makers need. And that most of the time we need it asap. Basically right now.”

The mould makers in Lemgo are very satisfied with KNARR. They have continually increased the share of standard parts they purchase from Helmbrechts over the years and more new products are added time and again. “As a tool and mould maker, one should not rely on a single customer”, emphasises Fedorow. “The same applies to suppliers as well. However, Knarr is a very strong, reliable supplier and partner. It’s no secret that we very much enjoy ordering our standard parts from Helmbrechts. There are also many more reasons than the high quality of the products. It is a genuine partnership that we experience on a daily basis.”