Micro molding a component involves not just one team but six or more. Due to the complex nature of micro molding and the critical nature of our customer’s technology, we must be thorough and ensure perfection for our customers. Here’s a brief look at the six sets of eyes, the teams they work with, and what they do after a mold has made it past the DfMM stage and tool room.
Who is a Process Technician and what do they do?
The process technician installs molds in the injection molding machines so parts can be produced. For regular production, they set up molds according to process parameters determined during qualification. You can think of it as a “recipe” for each part with the ingredients being mold heat, fill/hold pressures, shot size, and cycle times for example.
The process technician inspects the first parts produced for characteristics specified in the control plan and they make necessary adjustments if the parts are out of tolerance. The technician maintains processing parameters during production and troubleshoots if problems with the machines or parts arise. Process technicians also pull molds from machines when orders are complete and are responsible for communicating any issues with the tool room.
Who is a Pick-up Operator and what do they do?
The pick-up operator monitors the machines that are running, inspects parts every 2 hours during production, and weighs them according to packing instructions on the work order. Full bags/containers are dispositioned to inventory and ready for the AQL person to inspect. The pick-up operator inspects parts for issues such as non-fill, excessive flash, sink, or damage, supervisors are notified and appropriate action is taken. At the vertical presses, parts are inspected according to control plan instructions.
Some parts require secondary operations, such as additional inspection, degating, trimming. If this is the case, quality inspectors are designated to perform these functions which include another set of eyes before they are shipped out.
Who is a Measurement Operator and what do they do?
The measurement operator checks the control plans for each part that is running and determines how many parts to collect for visual inspections, how often to collect those samples, what characteristics should be evaluated during inspection, what critical measurements need to be done, what technique/device needs to be used to do the critical measurements, and if parts need to be taken to the Quality Lab for critical measurements.
Any issues or concerns with the parts are communicated to the supervisor and appropriate action is taken. The measurement operator documents all critical measurements and data in the ERP system to keep a clear record of their findings and results.
Who is a Production Supervisor and what do they do?
The production supervisor coordinates the flow of orders to ensure on-time delivery, organizes workflow, and assigns tasks/duties to employees. They make decisions on production problems and communicate these decisions to management.
During a shift, supervisors will check and inspect parts that are being produced as well. When parts in production have problems, the process tech is usually called first to assess the machine and parts to determine the cause for concern. It could be a process problem, automation issues, tooling concern, machine problem or another issue. Quality Engineers, Automation, and the tool room form a team to rapidly problem-solve and determine a solution to meet customer specifications and produce quality parts.
Who is an Assured Quality Level person, and what do they do?
The assured quality level (AQL) person inspects parts during a shift that are currently in production or have been through a secondary operation. They use prescribed procedures to inspect individual parts and make determine acceptable quality levels in the manufacturing process of injection-molded plastic parts.
Any concerns with produced micro molded parts are communicated to the supervisor and appropriate action is taken. The assured quality level person also makes routine audits in the ERP system to verify measurements are being performed according to work instructions or control plans. All inspections completed are updated in the ERP system to document the results of their inspections. In many cases, they are the final set of eyes to inspect parts before being moved to shipping.
Who is a Quality Lab person and what do they do?
The Quality Lab has multiple employees that implement the quality system on the production floor through the use of Statistical Process Control (SPC), calibration, inspection, and testing.
Quality lab professionals inspect and test products at various stages of the production process using a variety of measuring and testing equipment that is more sophisticated and not available on the production floor to perform critical measurements including, but not limited to, high-power microscopes, and white light interferometer. They record their results of testing using paper or electronic systems.
Final Thoughts on Micro Mold Process People
To guarantee high precision micro molded components, it’s vital to involve as many smart people and in the micro mold process, and it’s equally important these teams communicate clearly and document their findings.
This process is why we are world leaders in micro-molding. We’d love to answer your questions or start a discussion about your next project right now. Fill out the form, and we will get in touch quickly.
Brenda Carnagey is a measurement and pick-up operator for the small mold department at Accumold. She is a new hire trainer for small mold and a member of the internal audit team. She's been with Accumold for 4 years.