It can be assumed that everyone knows why preventative mould maintenance is important. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure.” Yes, that saying goes for machine and equipment maintenance too. When your injection mould breaks down, the costs of downtime, repairs, and financial damages resulting from delivering bad parts or not even able to ship parts at all would make preventive maintenance a financially attractive option. So when a moulder does not want to invest in preventative maintenance, it might ironically be okay for them to lose their proverbial shirts and go shirtless.
If we routinely inspect and make sure our personal belongings, especially those that are expensive, such as cars, houses and gadgets, are in the perfect condition, how much more when it comes to investments like our job that provides the income to pay for all our personal belongings?
So, how do our personal belongings relate to mould and moulding machine maintenance? Well, if the mould or equipment fails due to negligence, then the delivery would be jeopardized and put our company finances and good standing at risk! When our paymaster is at risk, we on the receiving end would be ultimately vulnerable for the negligence!
So, even though preventative mould maintenance can be time-consuming and a pain in the neck, it is needed to prevent serious consequences and costly repairs in the future. That said, I hope we are able to see how preventative maintenance is a crucial factor to a successful long-term moulding business, and, on a personal level, if we want to achieve sustainable success.
Continue reading this article and you will be learning about:
- Preventative mould maintenance and its importance
- Reasons why mould owners do not practice mould maintenance
- Basic and advanced mould maintenance procedures
What is Preventative Mould Maintenance?
Preventative mould maintenance refers to the periodically scheduled maintenance tasks done on the injection moulds, such as inspections, assessments, cleaning, repairs, and replacements of worn-out components to keep the injection mould in tip-top condition to prevent avoidable part quality lapses and production interruption.
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Why is Preventative Mould Maintenance Important?
- Preventative maintenance methodically remedies minor issues on the injection molds and resolves potential tooling failures pre-emptively to ensure the injection mould reaches its optimal lifespan.
- With appropriate preventive mould maintenance, the moulder is able to consistently produce high-quality injection moulded parts.
- Longer downtimes and costly rework and post moulding corrective measures such as sorting, unscheduled repairs or expedited mould replacement can be effectively prevented. There are a number mould maintenance issues that are caused by negligence and are totally avoidable when mould preventative maintenance is regularly done. These issues include:
- Products produced may not pass quality control. When a mould is not routinely inspected, problems such as residue or buildup, cracks, rust and other damages within the mould can be clearly seen in the end products. This results to rejected parts, which will lead to more production cycles and added costs, if you want to maintain quality and output.
- Mould damage beyond repair. Without preventative maintenance, small issues, which could have been easily taken care of, can blow up into major failure that will require serious repairs. Or worse, it can damage your mould beyond repair, causing its premature failure and unnecessarily spending on a new one. Which, by the way, would cause a couple of months of production downtime, i.e. income loss, damaged customer relations, customer claims, etc. Good luck with that!
- The injection moulding machine can be damaged when a mould fails while in production.
Why Won’t Mould Owners Practice Preventative Maintenance?
With the importance that preventative maintenance has, it can be easy to assume that injection moulders, and not to mention, mould owners, would want to implement the practice. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But why wouldn’t they want to keep their moulds in perfect condition?
To understand this, here are some reasons why.
- There is downtime in maintenance. And downtime can be a businessman’s worst enemy. After all, downtime stops production and limits your return on investment. Mould owners will definitely go for continuous production than waste time on maintenance procedures.
- It requires additional manpower commitment. Just like downtime, which halts income and entails costs, the personnel needed to conduct preventative maintenance will need to be compensated. And this is personnel who are not directly involved in the production. As far as most business owners are concerned, they will want to spend on production more than anything else.
- Preventative maintenance is thought of as an option, rather than a necessity. Even with the awareness of mould maintenance importance, owners still choose to skip on it because they think it is not a must.
The above are definitely some wrong mindsets on preventative maintenance. However, it does show us how working with a moulding supplier with the correct operating philosophy is important. And it can let you, as a purchasing or supplier development professional, maximize your return on investments, lessen supplier disruptions, hit management KPIs, promotions and bigger bonuses.
What are the Mould Maintenance Procedures?
Now that you know just how important mould maintenance is, below are the basic steps towards achieving a fully functional, efficient and perfectly conditioned mould.
Mould Maintenance Procedures
- While the mould is still in the press, the parting surfaces, core and cavity have to be carefully cleaned with a mild solvent and soft fabric and compressed air. Grease and resins that accumulate and any build-up from vented gases should be gently removed. This should be done at the end of every shift.
- When the mould is removed from the press, the above step should be performed, plus the following:
- The mould needs to return to room temperature before removing from the press. If not, condensation can form on the mould, leading to the development of rust.
- Make sure that no water is trapped inside the mould. When there is water, rust can build up. Water lines should be drained and blown free of residual water.
- Remove residual dirt and grime from parting surfaces, core and cavity.
- Both halves of the mould should be sprayed with light rust preventive lubricant. Do so by moving the ejector system fully forward. Once done, retract the ejector system and close the mould.
- All bolts, plates and the likes should be checked and put in place securely and tightly.
- Keep the last part product of the cycle with the mould as a copy for quality basis.
- When taken out of storage for a new production process, open the mould and run another cleaning cycle using a mild, clean solvent and soft fabric on the parting surfaces, core and cavity of the mould. This removes the mould anti-rust, as well as remaining dust and other substances that may be in the mould.
Things to remember:
- NEVER use hard tools on any mould inserts surface.
- NEVER use towels to wipe highly polished mould surfaces.
- Avoid too much clamp and high injection pressures.
- Do not forcefully and hurriedly open and close the mould.
There is no question about the importance of preventative maintenance, not just for your moulds, but also injection moulding tool maintenance. And if you want your plastic injection mould function smoothly for a long time, this is one task you need to make a part of your regular to-do list. After all, you would not want your injection mould to break down in the middle of a moulding process, which will, undoubtedly cost you way more than any maintenance tasks would.
This is why it is important for mould owners to work closely with their mould manufacturers and suppliers, ideally in the same company. Doing so will significantly reduce the risks and costs that come with the injection moulding process. And this is what you would want for your moulding program.
If you have more questions about plastic injection moulds and their maintenance procedures, simply send us at Kore Industries a message. We specialize in plastic injection moulding and have been an injection moulding manufacturer for years. With our experience, we will be able to provide the answers you seek. So, do send us a message by clicking the Contact Us button below.
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