Consolidating the features and functions of multiple parts into a single component has the potential for many advantages. Foremost among them is cost savings due to simpler assembly requirements and fewer molds.
However, creating a single larger part out of several smaller parts also introduces new challenges in terms of complexity. This complexity is exacerbated where very large parts (i.e. automotive, appliances) are concerned, as was the case with Canam Tools Ltd. (www.canamtools.com)
For example, the Windsor, Ontario-based moldmaker was challenged to help turn a two-piece skin and support front grille assembly for a semi-truck into a single, large part. Previously, the two pieces were made with two separate molds.
“Our customer wanted to mold several features onto the existing grille instead of incorporating those features on a separate component,” Canam Tools explained. “With the complexity of these angles, it was a very tricky environment.”
Canam was seeking to build a 25,000-pound, 64” x 52” tool that could handle multiple angles of 26, 28 and 30 degrees – difficult even in a more typical mold where angles usually don’t exceed 15 degrees. What’s more, this mold would require a total of 19 moving components.
To help solve this puzzle, engineers at DME, one of Canam’s mold technologies partners, recommended the incorporation of VectorForm Lifter Systems into the mold. VectorForm is a patented system that allows undercuts to be twice as deep as previously possible.
With the ability to incorporate multiple systems on a single large lifter core, VectorForm offered perhaps the only viable solution for the multiple angles in this application. Furthermore, with standard off-the-shelf components and simple plate machining for fast installation, the systems could be incorporated relatively easily into the new design.
The team installed 15 VectorForm systems – including ten VF 20 UBs and five VF16 UBs (20 and 16 represent in millimeters the nominal outside diameter of the rod, UB represents universal slide base) – into the tool operating at varying speeds in both accelerated and decelerated arrangements in the mold. (The lifter moved faster than the ejector plate on some and slower than the ejector plate on others; if the movement was downward, it had to be decelerated; if it was upward, it was accelerated.)
As a result, Canam created a single, successful mold for the grille part – meeting the challenge and saving their customer the substantial cost of employing an additional mold.
One important note on VectorForm: Given the upfront costs involved with a lifter system of this kind, it’s important to consider whether your project will warrant the investment. For smaller tools or lower volumes, the initial cost becomes harder to absorb. But the larger and more complex the tool and the project, the more this could be an economical solution for you.
“Most molders don’t like to work with angles this extreme and designers don’t often consider it. But with the durability of the VectorForm Lifter System and our longstanding relationship with DME, we were confident in the product’s stability for such a large mold and its ability to perform as promised.”
Canam Tools Ltd.