One of the largest custom thermoformers in North America, Plastic Ingenuity INC., is an engineering-driven company, with all engineering, tooling and most roll stock extrusions extruded in-house. “We take the time to develop the right solutions for our customers, and we expect our vendors to do the same for us,” says Pete Laubmeier, Sales Engineer.
The Wisconsin-based, family-owned company appreciated how Bales worked with them to solve a challenge that arose during a project. Sticking would occur after thermoforming thin-gauge plastic materials over aluminum molds.
“We were not able to consistently strip formed parts off our form tooling,” Laubmeier says. “Forming parts at a slow rate netted good parts; however, if we sped our cycle up, we couldn’t strip the parts off tooling without damage. This damage rendered the thermoformed parts nonconforming. So, we felt we needed to address that slip factor.”
A secondary problem was wear. “The tools weren’t lasting — we’d have to tear the mold apart and address the mold surface finish all too often.”
Searching for a remedy to both issues, Laubmeier and his team reached out to Bales. Bales determined the wear issue was actually causing the release issue. The aluminum tooling was wearing down and shining up, and the shininess caused sticking.
To solve the sticking problem, Bales recommended coating the molds with Bales’ proprietary NIBORE™ coating. A combination of Nickel Boron, NIBORE™ has outstanding release properties while offering corrosion and oxidation protection equal to Electroless Nickel, along with wear resistance and a low coefficient of friction (.05).
After a test run with one cavity coated in NIBORE™, the part released cleaner from the mold. But after coating six molds in NIBORE™ and running 300 pieces on each, wear issues arose again.
Next, Bales suggested using Diamond E.N.™, Bales’ newest proprietary coating. A versatile nickel coating with diamond particles, Diamond E.N.™ has a higher coefficient of friction (0.10) than NIBORE®, but its Rockwell hardness of 57 means it can withstand wear better than NIBORE®, which has a Rockwell hardness of 54.
Diamond E.N.® did provide wear improvement, while still solving the release issue, but Plastic Ingenuity hoped to improve productivity even more. So a Bales technical services manager made the three-hour trip to the company’s headquarters in Cross Plains, Wisc., to see the problematic molds firsthand. His suggestion: use Diamond Chrome to achieve the greatest wear resistance while still retaining good release.
Bales tested a two-step coating process on six pieces – first applying a very thin layer of nickel plating, then applying Diamond Chrome. over the areas most prone to sticking.
The solution was successful. In fact, Plastic Ingenuity INC. was so pleased with the resulting productivity gains that they’ve since plated all similar jobs the same way. A plus is that Bales also does surface preparation in-house, stripping and blasting molds to prep for processing, as well as several other value-added services.
From start to finish, Laubmeier says it was a pleasure working with Bales. “We need quick responses and turnarounds. They were phenomenal, always answering our questions — and that’s a big deal to us as a company.”
The tools weren’t lasting — we’d have to tear the mold apart and address the mold surface finish all too often.Pete Laubmeier
"From start to finish, it was a pleasure working with Bales. We need quick responses and turnarounds. They were phenomenal, always answering our questions — and that’s a big deal to us as a company.”Pete Laubmeier
No matter what challenge you face, Bales will deliver the right solution, on time, with the highest of standards. Learn more about Diamond Chrome.
Some competitors only serve certain industries, but at Bales, we serve industry. Whether it's plastic injection molding or nuclear components - if its metal, we cover it.