Does micro mold tool transfer involve moving the tool to a new manufacturing partner? In theory, physically moving a micro mold tool to a new manufacturing partner for micro mold tool transfer is possible. The tool could be packed securely and shipped from one partner to another, however in almost all cases, a tool transfer will involve building a new tool.
Quality is everything
No two micro mold tools are created equally. Years of experience are required to ensure the whole system integration from tooling, processing, quality, and packaging meets necessary quality standards. The tool room strategy is perhaps the biggest factor that impacts geometry and precision of the part. In almost every tool transfer case, we see opportunities for improvement.
When asked to hit micron tolerances from outside tools not built for high volume production output, problems often arise in manufacturing that inevitably pass cost to the OEM, manufacturing partner and customer. These inefficiencies often increase delays as well. Expert micro molders and tool builders like the ones that work on Accumold’s DfMM team are skilled at catching these issues early, ensuring consistency.
Molds may belong to the molder
In many cases ownership of molds and micro processes can be a complicated issue. While it’s technically possible to ship a mold to a new provider, most suppliers may be hesitant if they believe they are exposing their IP to a competitor.
Many manufacturing partners maintain ownership of molds, but the production “know-how” remains the IP of the supplier which can be equally as important as the tool construction. Many times the transfer tool doesn’t fit or work well in various micro presses on the market which may be a bigger issue for all parties.
For this reason, it is more simple and straightforward to create a new tool rather than deal with potential legal and logistical challenges associated with tool transfer. Not to mention, molds don’t last forever anyway. Depending on how they are built they do have a shelf life and are often internally rebuilt anyway. The bottom line here, is in the case of a tool transfer, a new mold will be rebuilt. That’s good for you, the manufacturer. It’s a great time to talk about your goals for improving the overall design.