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Hot Runner Technology OCT 2017

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F E AT U R E 12 Hot Runner Technology New Techniques Prove Benefits of Proactive Hot Runner Care By Cyndi Kustush Jeremy Dykes is the general manager of Millennium Tool Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky). He describes the Hot Runner Maintenance and Repair Certification course offered at MoldTrax LLC as "eye-opening." Millennium Tool Inc. (MTI) is a provider of engineering changes and repair/maintenance services for molds, dies and fixtures. In 2010, the company set up a team of 32 mold and die maintenance and repair technicians and moldmakers at a General Electric Appliances molding facility. The crew oversees maintaining and repairing stamping dies and injection molds. The molds are 200–3500 tons. Dykes leads the team. "We oversee about 1200 different tools, 60 percent of which are injection molds with different brands of hot runner systems," he says. His background as a toolmaker mainly centered on stamping dies. Dykes had limited experience with injection mold hot runner systems and how to maintain them, so he enrolled in courses at MoldTrax, including its hot runner maintenance and repair class. That was two years ago. Dykes says the class gives such a quick return on investment (ROI) that he has already sent several of his team members to the training and intends to send more. "Some of them have been doing this kind of work for 20 years and thought they would be bored, but they learned new and useful techniques. They were very impressed," Dykes says. "The ROI is that more team members are skilled in the art and science of hot runners. We no longer have to rely on two or three team members to do all the hot runner work. The wait to get a qualified person available has been cut in half." An example of those new techniques came into play when dealing with one of the team's recurring challenges—bad hot runner heaters and thermocouples. "We learned how to use the ohmmeter to monitor the hot runner systems and chart the resistance levels so that we can proactively repair or replace these components before there's a larger problem. Our goal is to perform preventive maintenance, as opposed to working on the tools in the presses once something goes wrong," Dykes says. Dykes and his team also learned about valve pins and how criti- cal it is to time them out, fit them and so on. In addition, they learned to use advanced controllers to heat manifolds to the processing temperature to ensure that valve pin heights are set to specifications. MTI implemented this process at General Electric right away, he said. They also purchased a new controller with more features to replace an outdated and less-equipped system. "The new controller has the ability to do diagnostics on bad heaters, thermocouples and zones, and will signal any errors or shorts within the hot runner system when plugged into the thermocouple and heater boxes. It also allows us to save thermocouples to run two drops off of one zone. It's important to have a good controller to measure the status of the whole system." Dykes says there have been investments in other equipment, too, that have significantly impacted the overall hot runner repair and maintenance process. They use two Cold Jet dry ice cleaning systems, for example, to clean molds. They also use hot runners in instances where removing resins is difficult in comparison to other methods, like solvents, scrapers, stones and so on. Dykes also plans to purchase an ultrasonic cleaner by the end of the year. More than anything, the hands-on aspect of training at MoldTrax really ingrained the theory behind systemized hot runner maintenance for Dykes and MTI. "Before, we were in major fire-fighting mode, working based on hand-to-mouth experience and learning the hard way," Dykes says. "Today, we're working more efficiently; we're keeping important spare parts on hand, and we're no longer waiting for failures to happen. The class showed us the importance of being proactive in the repair and maintenance of hot runner systems so they will perform at optimal levels." The Millennium Tool Inc. team learned how to use the ohmmeter to monitor the hot runner systems and chart the resistance levels so that they can proac- tively repair or replace these components before there's a larger problem. Image courtesy of Millennium Tool Inc. For More Information: Millennium Tool Inc. / 502-648-1992 /

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