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The Manufacturing Career Path - Guest Post from our Tooling Manager

by Administrator8. June 2017 11:36

 

 

Guest post from Tooling Manager, Joe Karpinski

 

I joined Team Thogus a year and a half ago as the Tooling Manager.  My responsibilities range from estimating/quoting, customer service, vendor/supplier relations, design, quality, purchasing, prototyping, production support, machining, coaching/mentoring, and mold maintenance. It’s true – I wear a lot of hats! But that is the beauty of this career field.

 

With more than twenty-five years of experience in the plastic injection molding manufacturing industry, wearing those many hats, I’ve come to the realization that “you” can determine the success and future from a career in manufacturing.  

 

1. Innovation - Technology

 

Not trying to date myself but I remember creating drawings on a drafting board in shop class. Then, I was introduced to AutoCAD in the mid-80s, which was a huge advantage, because it opened opportunities for any job field that utilizes CADD (Computer Aided Drafting & Design).

 

Manufacturing isn’t working in a foundry pouring steel billets like my grandfather did decades ago, and like some people still do to this day. The industry has evolved with innovation and technology. For those that want to make chips on a milling machine or design the next innovative product using virtual reality, the opportunities are there – period.

 

Innovation goes hand-in-hand with manufacturing and always has. Power-generation systems using steam and water powered manufacturing equipment back in 1784. The assembly line introduction utilized electric back in 1870 to modernize mass production. In 1969, the first (PLC) programmable logic controller (or Robot) was used to automate production process. The future of manufacturing will be driven by (CPS) cyber-physical systems which allow for endless information to be shared in a manufacturing facility inside and outside their physical walls. The manufacturing industry and systems will not only optimize the process, but will analyze and communicate directly to execute tasks.

 

Going into manufacturing means you will experience innovation and technology. It’s not your grandfather’s factory.

 

 

2. Hands On

 

Most of the people that choose the manufacturing industry as a career path have either; taken something apart, tried to put to back together, sketched something on a piece of paper, grabbed a tool to fix something, visualized a product or process, or created something. Manufacturing reaches pretty much every aspect of our lives daily. So, I struggle when I hear that manufacturing has lost its appeal for the generations to follow because of previous views or perceptions of manufacturing. I will state, however, that the manufacturing industry is, and always be, a hands-on career, regardless of how you want to define hands-on.

 

The official definition of hands-on is, ‘involving or offering participation rather than theory.’ Is there no theory in manufacturing? Yes there is, but along with it, there are also people that must prove or disprove that theory. 

 

For example: You walk into your garage and pick up a piece of wood. You have a concept in mind or on paper to transform that piece of wood. Then, you survey the garage to find the tools to “shape/transform” that piece of wood. Finally, you perform the task necessary to generate the final product. Yep, you guessed it, that is ‘manufacturing.’

 

That is the beauty of this industry. You are part of ‘making’.

 

 

3. Longevity

 

The manufacturing industry will always need people to support this career field. The world revolves around people making stuff, creating stuff, and providing stuff to all the other people in the world. My best recommendation to those considering the manufacturing industry is: there are multiple paths to follow and you will get out of it what you put into it. The part I most enjoy about my job is delivering the final product and/or service to my internal & external customers.

 

I highly recommend considering manufacturing as your career destination. You can find resources to help you. I have had the honor to work with Lorain County Community College’s Engineering program. If you are interested in manufacturing but don’t know where to start, check them out! Below is a snapshot from Lorain Community College’s Engineering & Manufacturing Pathway. LCC also offers the RAMP program (Retooling Adults for Manufacturing Programs).







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Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics

The Customer Service Perspective: Guest Post from Tonya Rodriguez, CSR Thogus

by Administrator25. April 2017 12:15

Guest post from Customer Service Representative, Tonya Rodriquez 

 

I joined our team at Thogus Products Company nearly two years ago as a CSR.  In my role, I provide B2B customer service for our proprietary line of hose and tube fittings, which are plastic injection molded fixtures such as tees, elbows, and adapters that are used in a multitude of industries, including agriculture, food and beverage, and automotive.  The fittings accounts I service range in size from small, home-based businesses, to OEMs and distributors, to large automotive suppliers.


Here at Thogus, some of our Core Values are: Passion, Honesty & Integrity, Dedication, and Mutual Respect.  Using these values as a foundation and a guide for the way that I engage my customers builds trust, and helps to foster relationships.  A strong relationship with a customer will almost always lead to brand loyalty.  


With more than twenty years of experience in the field of Customer Service, in a variety of capacities, including call center, retail, consumer affairs, and account management, I’ve picked up a few nuggets that have proven to be successful when engaging with the lifeline of any business – our valued customer.  

 

1. Being proactive pays off.

 

I’ve learned that giving a heads-up can make all the difference to my customer.  Especially if I happen tom be delivering news that’s not so great.  For example, sending an email to inform the customer that their order will be delayed, or that one item on their order will need to be backordered.  No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, and I’ve often braced myself for a scathing retort, cringing at the sight of the reply email, only to be pleasantly surprised by something along the lines of “That’s fine.  Thank you for letting me know.”    

 

Notifying your customer of potential delays or issues, providing them with information such as tracking numbers or copies of paperwork, before they request it, takes some of the pressure off, and makes their lives that much easier.  As a result, you will stand out.  


2. Small gestures go a long way.

 

While working in Consumer Affairs for a medical supply company, I would field numerous requests from end users for rubber walker tips.  While routine protocol dictated that I refer the consumer to a local authorized dealer to purchase new tips, I would often send the tips out to the customer on our Goodwill account at no-charge.  This small gesture that cost the company a mere few dollars at most meant the world to these consumers, most of whom were elderly.  I would receive the nicest thank you notes gushing with gratitude.  


The holidays and special occasions are another opportunity to let your customer know how much they are valued and appreciated, and it goes a long way in fostering the relationship.  Is someone having a baby?  Send a basket or a gift card to let them know you’re thinking of them.  At Christmas, send customers gift baskets from your favorite local suppliers – cookies, popcorn, chocolate.  Who doesn’t love receiving a tasty treat?  While the treat will be enjoyable, the thought behind the gesture is invaluable.

 

 

3. Empathy is a must.

 

We need to be able to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes.  We are customers too, and we have all been disappointed by an unfortunate set of circumstances when doing business with a company at some point in our lives.  Think back to how the customer service associate handled the situation.  Did they show compassion and understanding for your predicament?  If so, did you feel that they were being sincere, or condescending?  Sincerity is key when dealing with an unhappy customer.  Make an honest effort to imagine how you would feel in the same situation, and what a CSR could do or say to quell your dissatisfaction.  Being sincere in your empathy makes all the difference.     


Nowadays, customers have so many choices when selecting goods and services.  So much so, that businesses need to find a way to stand out.  At our core, we all want to be valued, respected, and to feel that we matter.  If you can make your customer feel like this, then I believe your customer will always choose you.  

 

 

Tonya Rodriguez

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Culture | Customer Service | Injection Molding

Plastic Injection Molding or Additive Manufacturing?

by Administrator4. January 2017 15:10

 

As a plastic injection molder, it surprised many when we entered the additive manufacturing industry with the creation of rp+m in 2012.  Why would we entertain the thought of starting a company whose industry was considered a direct threat to plastic injection molding? Simple, we believed that this technology would pair well with injection molding.

While the two technologies may be complimentary, there are still times when one will be a better choice. 

COST:

Plastic injection molding is the most popular method to make plastic parts. One reason is cost. If you need thousands of parts produced annually, plastic injection molding would be the most cost effective, even when factoring in the tooling. While a tool will cost thousands of dollars, the actual piece price for the part may run as low as a few cents (if a very small part made of a common polymer). Even small parts produced via additive manufacturing will cost tens of dollars per part – price for thousands of parts and you will quickly match the cost of plastic injection molding.

If you need a small plastic part made but only need a few of them – additive manufacturing is your better choice. When only a few parts are needed the cost for tooling in plastic injection molding is prohibitive. Additive manufacturing is the better choice for lower part quantities.

DESIGN ITERATIONS:

Sometimes you have a part design that isn’t quite there but you need to know where exactly the issues might be with the part. Additive manufacturing is your best choice. Your CAD design can be uploaded and the part made in hours. You can then have your part in-hand to review and decide what changes need to be made to the design.

TIME:

The time it takes to make your parts truly depends on the size and number of parts you need. If you need just a handful of parts, additive manufacturing is absolutely the most efficient choice to produce the parts. If thousands of parts are needed throughout the year, then plastic injection molding is your best choice when mass-producing.

QUALITY:

While there have been great strides in additive manufacturing to create high quality parts, injection molding can produce a part that typically has a better appearance to it and can be made with various surface finishes (including in-mold labeling and diamond-finishes).

 

                   

Complexity in design with 3D printing  

 

          

 Overmolding and high gloss finish with injection molding                                 

 

 

 

 

 

Even four years later we firmly believe that plastic injection molding and additive manufacturing are complementary technologies that can exist on their own or work together. If you have a part design but want to have the opportunity for design iterations before committing, you could have the part made via 3D printing and oncethe design is confirmed, then move forward to mass-production via injection molding. We are very excited to see what the next stages will be with additive manufacturing and how it will continue to work with plastic injection molding.

10 Interesting Facts about Plastic Injection Molding

by Administrator5. December 2016 13:09

 

We at Thogus find plastic injection molding fascinating and while we recognize that this might not be the case for most, we do think the facts below are pretty interesting. Enjoy! 

  • The first plastic injection molding machine was patented in the United States in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt, with help from his brother.
  • The original purpose for the injection molding machine was to make billiard balls by injection celluloid into a mold. Celluloid went on to replace ivory in billiard ball production. 
  • In 1946 the Injection Molding industry was revolutionized by American James Hendry when he updated Hyatt’s design from a plunger to a screw injection molding. To this day most plastic injection molding machines use this technique
  • In the 1970s James Hendry also designed the first gas-assisted injection molding process, allowing for more complex parts to be made.
  • Injection molding is the most popular method of plastic processing.
  • In 1980 Apple selected the material ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for personal computers.
  • There are over 80,000 different materials available for molding (including 17,000 plastics).
  • Injection molded parts can range in size as large as a car bumper or tractor hood down to a part smaller than the eraser on a pencil.
  • There are over 8,000 plastic injection molders in the United States including captive molders and contract manufacturers. 
  • Since 1949 Lego has injection molded over 400 BILLION Lego elements and currently they produce on average 35,000 Lego elements a minute. 

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Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics

Cold vs Hot Runner Molds – Benefits to Both

by Administrator29. June 2016 17:58

Following part design and material selection the next step in plastic injection molding is getting the tool designed and made. One of the earliest decisions to make is whether to have a cold runner or hot runner system. 

Cold Runner

When a mold is designed for a cold runner system, you have a channel formed between the two halves of a mold, allowing the plastic to move from the injection molding machine nozzle to the cavities. When the mold opens to eject the newly formed parts, the material in the runner system is also ejected, resulting in scrap material.

Hot Runner

This system is an assembly of heated components that inject molten plastic into the cavities of the mold. A hot runner system typically includes a heated manifold and a number of heated nozzles. When a mold with a hot runner system opens, only the part ejects as material in the runner system is kept molten and will fill into the part cavity during the next cycle.

So which do you choose?

Benefits of a Hot Runner System:

  • Eliminate the runner thus eliminating expensive scrap (and potential regrind issues) and you have less handling of materials. 
  • Lower the cycle time since you are not waiting for the cold runner to cool during the cycle. Removing the runner also improves the injection screw recovery and injection time since due to the smaller shot size
  • Design flexibility because you can locate the gate at many points on the part

 Downsides of a Hot Runner System:

  •      Very expensive to design and build
  •      Maintenance of the mold requires higher level of expertise
  •      Complicated design 

Benefits of a Cold Runner System:

  • Less expensive to manufacture
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Easier to use for a wide variety of polymers

Downsides of a Cold Runner System:

  • Scrap waste through runner system and handling of materials
  • Potentially incorporating regrind into the system

When you are making the decision to choose between the a cold or hot runner system it is important to have a thorough understanding of your part, the material, and the estimated annual units. While hot runner systems are expensive to make, the scrap material waste and extended cycle time can offset the tooling savings.

 

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Injection Molding | Manufacturing | Plastics | Training

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