To Go Big We Started Small

Multi-part consumer product molding program moves from concept to 14 automated presses, with 16 cavity molds, producing parts 24/7 – all in less than a year.

In 2013, microPEP began working with an OEM that had designed an exceptional multi-part consumer product with significant market potential. Their requirement was for a precision, multi-press manufacturing complex that could be scaled rapidly to meet the anticipated demand across multiple components.

Within just eight months, the complex was installed, qualified and producing parts 24/7. The complex incorporates automated presses equipped with high-speed robotic part removal, automatic runner and part separation, and traceability to individual cavities.

By focusing on the critical details up front, microPEP rapidly scaled from zero to 9 MM parts/week for one customer's multi-part consumer product - without sacrificing quality.

By focusing on the critical details up front, microPEP rapidly scaled from zero to 9 MM parts/week for one customer’s multi-part consumer product – without sacrificing quality.

What does it take to move from a prototype design to a rapidly scalable, high volume production operation on the macro level? Very close attention to detail.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major considerations that were addressed along the way:

With the part design still in flux, microPEP started out by designing single-cavity molds. Any part design change was incorporated at this stage. This approach allowed for rapid scalability from one to four to 16 cavities.

A DOE (Design of Experiments) protocol was developed to determine the most critical process variables, an ideal range of settings, and the widest window of variability for these settings – so that, if necessary, the process could be adjusted to allow for normal variation in process and material variability.

Even at this early stage, a team of microPEP engineers representing tooling, processing and quality were actively engaged in the project. The same process was followed through the entire ramp-up process, up to 16 cavities.

Early on, microPEP also reached out to our supply chain to secure commitments from molding machine manufacturers, material suppliers, production mold builders and automation suppliers to ensure a uniform footprint across all mold cells.

The level of commitment our suppliers devoted to this project was typified by the president of Nissei, the manufacturer of our injection molding machines, who personally committed their corporate resources to the successful scale of this program.

To go big, we started small. Now, many millions of parts later, the complex that microPEP scaled from 0 to 9MM parts/week is capable such that microPEP has received no customer complaints and maintains an unblemished quality record.

To find out more about DOE, see a related story by PEP Lacey Manufacturing.