Precision micro molding doesn’t rest on one technology, method or approach. As a world leader in this art form, there are 5 keys that guide our process and empower today’s leading tech companies.
Key 1: Customer Integration
At Accumold we take a team approach to each project. To each precision micro molding project, we assign a Sales Engineer, Project Engineer, and Quality Engineer that remain with their project throughout development and future production.
The team spends a great deal of time on the front end of the project, interacting with the customer to fully understand their needs and requirements for the specific part or parts. Client requirements are documented and communicated to our production team. Our intention with this structure is to build a long-term relational conduit with the customer, not simply finish a single project and move on to someone else.
Key 2: PREP & Qualification Process
PREP (Production Ready Equipment Process) is what we use to prepare a new mold ready for qualification.
First, we sample the mold and make sure all dimensions are acceptable and ensure the mold will run as expected. Then, we quickly move to a longer stress run to see how the mold will perform during a longer production type run. The mold is then taken apart and inspected for any signs of wear or any other abnormalities. At this stage, we dive into our DOE work to determine the best process window for running production. After this stage, we are ready for qualification.
Qualification involves IQ (Installation Qualification), OQ (Operational Qualification), and PQ (Process Qualification). These are done to ensure that we will be successful running parts to specification year after year, not just once or twice.
Key 3: Metrology Capabilities
Our measurement lab is 1040sq/ft with 13 technicians and 24/7 coverage. Due to the size of the parts we work with and our precision micro molding focus, most of our measurements are done optically but we also have laser and touch probe capability.
The primary metrology equipment we utilize is from OGP (Optical Gaging Products). Their systems measure down to a few of microns accuracy. But we don’t rely on this alone. We have 5 systems in the quality lab and another 5 in production. We also have two Zygo white light interferometers to measure surface finish and flatness, these measure down to the angstrom level.
Many of our customers rely on our measurement capabilities which often have greater accuracy than they have access to. Within our quality group, we have over a dozen ASQ certifications, including CQT, CQE, CCT, C6σBB and others. We continually do in house training with our technicians and Quality Engineers for future certifications.
Key 4: ISO Certifications
Accumold has been ISO 9001 certified for almost 20 years and 7 years ago we acquired our ISO 13485 medical certification.
Over the years the medical portion of our business has grown to over 50% of our total revenue and utilizing the guidelines from ISO 13485 helps to ensure we have the processes in place to meet the stringent requirements of the medical industry, providing unmatched precision micro molding for OEMs.
It’s also valuable to point out, we have the ISO 14001 environmental certification. Accumold’s commitment to decrease our carbon footprint is proven through our recorded weight of materials year to year. Our environmental team meets regularly to discuss new ways and methods for improving our waste reduction, reuse, and recycling methodology.
Key 5: Continuous Improvement
Because we are an enabling solution for the coolest tech companies in the world, we regularly engage in continuous improvement activities. Utilizing the Kaizen methodology our small cross-functional teams focus on specific areas and specific problems, making improvements in a few days, not weeks or months.
We also utilize our Continuous Improvement approach to proactively make improvements to quality, safety, and productivity, utilizing tools such as 5S, value stream mapping, set-up reduction and waste reduction. We have two certified 6 sigma black belts and one green belt on staff and have recently added full-time Continuous Improvement positions to help drive the process throughout the organization.
Mark Schilling is the Continuous Improvement Manager for Accumold and holds a BASc from The University of Iowa in Industrial Engineering.