Metro Mold & Design Fast Tracks Face Shield Tool
The new mold was fabricated in just nine days compressing what’s normally a 6- to 8-week process.
Metro Mold & Design (MMD; Rogers, Minn.) worked extended hours, including two weekends, to turn around a completely new mold in only nine days as part of its collaboration with a consortium of more than 150 manufacturers cobbled together by 3D-printing technology supplier Stratasys to help combat the covid-19 crisis.
Ben Lampron, VP of Consumer & Industrial at MMD, told Plastics Technology that weekends and teamwork were key to speeding up the mold making process. “Overall, the design process was very fluid between MMD and Stratasys,” Lampron said, “with design decisions and approvals being made and given very quickly. It was a team effort—internally and across partners.”
Lampron said the cavity framework for the mold was completely new. MMD designed the tool and partnered with Tooling Science Inc. (Maple Grove, Minn.) to build it. MMD had a mold base in house that was able to be used, while Tooling Science had the required steel on hand. The finished mold is a one-cavity tool with a subgate. There are no slides or movements for the mold, which is fully automated with pin eject. The visor frame is molded in polypropylene in a 27-second cycle.
The mold was built in response to an order for 100,000 components, with MMD seeking to efficiently and effectively produce 20,000 visor frames per week. The shield component of the face mask is sourced and managed by Stratasys.
High demand for the face shield pushed Stratasys to find an injection molding partner that could scale production. “This project came about as a result of a longstanding relationship between Ben Lampron and a member of the Stratasys team,” an MMD spokesperson told Plastics Technology. “MMD’s reputation as an injection molder ensured the company was top of mind as Stratasys looked to broaden its coalition with injection molding partners who could quickly and easily scale up production.”
Stratasys’ coalition includes Boeing, Toyota Motor Co., Medtronic, Dunwoody College of Technology, the University of Central Florida and the University of Minnesota, among others. In a release, Lampron specifically recognized the efforts of Tony Hanson, project engineer, who retrofit the tool design, and Pat Bell, process engineer, who completed the press set-up—both in record time, according to Lampron—as well as Rob Hendel, director of operations, for leadership on the floor.
As Stratasys sought to ramp up production of face shield visors, it partnered with Metro Mold & Design to convert these 3D-printed components to injection molding.
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