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Tool and Die-Makers

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Tool and Die-Makers
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, September 9, 2023 7:00 AM

Here's one for the history books.

        There was a financial loss in the late seventies. It never made the news either. A start-up company was going to enter the Model scene. first venture was to be a ship. Well, the Molds Made by Tool and Die-Makers in Indiana Arrived safely at their destination. Unbeknownst to all is they had been dropped in transfer from one conveyance to another. This Damaged the guide pins enough that there was flash and mis-alignment issues, such that the molds could not be used.

         Now Tool and Die-Makers were a well respected level of industry back in the day. Measure SIX times then Cut once. Remember their work had to be perfect(Or as perfect as a human or group of them) can make it. We're not talking wood here. We are talking about almost precious metals in the plastics industry! Molds weren't cheap.  They were being done by NON - Computer operated facilities and was the norm. My Foster -Father was one of those Tool and Die-Makers I speak of. His Salary at the company he worked for allowed him to own his first Cadillac Before his retirement in the late seventies! That was a substantial amount back then!

       The cosy of the machines the molds fit on were bad enough, To not be able to use molds that were six months in the creation stage was a real financial hit. Something like $475,000.00, for the three units. Two halves to each unit! Well, the ship never saw the light of day, that company went Bankrupt and it took twelve years to settle all the debt. Jobs Lost, Property lost and six months of Fine work and Dedication by the Tool and Die-Makers in Indiana for naught!

      Have you ever really looked at an old model that was what we call awesome and wondered at the perfection in it. That's the translation of drawings into three dimensional carvings, In Metal ! In reverse! That's what Tool and Die-Makers did! My Foster assured me it didn't come easy to most folks and it was hard on the brain and the eyes! He Sat me down and showed me. One wheel half on a model car(The outside) took six and a half days. Cut, grind, Check under a magnifier, grind some more(Never taking off more than needed) until a nice shiny wheel face resided in that mold cavity!

 So the next time you look at an old kit that's well molded, think of the (Men and Women) that made it possible. They were one of the trades that lost a lot to computerization. But my hat is off to those who were young enough to make the Change-Over to Computer guided machines. All those jobe now done by a machine that replaced two people at least, In some places more. The result of course is more detail in many more molded ways This too is an awesome change. But, Without Tool and Die-Makers many things would NOT Have seen the light of day. Celebrate the Pioneers always and forever!

  • Member since
    January 2021
Posted by PFJN2 on Saturday, September 9, 2023 9:24 PM


That's interesting.  Thanks for posting.



  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, September 10, 2023 6:18 AM

Thank You Pat!

          I have many more stories from my "Old days" as both a Entrepreneur, and a specific Business Builder/Operator. Some came about Because I was raised with the mantra- line-"Keep it Simple" -"Stupid"! There are many things out there we pass on because they are the old ways or we've never done it. But  let it still be shown that sometimes the "Old Ways"work too!  Doc.      Note: We would be surprised how many cross-over Tools and Methods work everywhere, because of their simplicity! Even Now!!

  • Member since
    October 2021
Posted by PhoenixG on Saturday, September 30, 2023 8:18 PM

Hey Tanker,

This post takes me back.

In my youth (about 30 years ago) I did a brief stint working at an injection molding company as a grunt.  This company made some of the parts for the original Sonicare Toothbrush.  They had tiny little injectors not much bigger than a large desk for small parts usually 3-4 small pieces on a sprue to a machine as big as your garage for making a single bracket for holding a 4" pipe.  The runner on that thing was as big around as your index finger.  It takes tremendous pressure to force the plastic into every part of a mold.

They had their own machinist onsite for creating the molds.  The companies could send the plans to them and they would machine the mold for them.  Like you said, the blocks of steel used are the most expensive part of making anything from plastic.  That steel has to be perfect.  Any voids or minor imperfection makes it unusable.

The plastic itself costs pennies per piece.

I remember they had been contracted to build collapsible cup holders for stadium seating.  Looked great and held a cup perfectly.  But when installed it couldn't be collapsed.  They were permanently locked open.  Machinist had followed the plans exactly.  Turns out when they had drafted the plans, all the hinges had been reversed.  Needless to say the customer was out of pocket on that one.

And despite what one may think, those molds only have so much life in them.  There is wear and tear on the mold and as it ages you can get increasing amounts of flash, incomplete ejection of the part etc.

There was one mold that had been used so much that it frequently jammed the machine and turned out mangled parts.  The company contracting the work wasn't willing to pay for machining a new mold.  Instead they took on the added cost of the problem because it was cheaper than making a new mold.


On the Bench:

Bandai 1/72 Destroid Spartan

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, October 1, 2023 7:47 AM


        The Company I worked for had some problems like that. Our biggest one wasn't with the molds though. Ours was with the Extruder that made the colored pellets used for molding product. It would be running fine, then out of nowhere, the head temp would drop and it would explosively pop off the machine.

       This action would shut down half the production at our plant. We only had two extruders and two shredders on site. The Molding Machines were in a different section and we had four. As you said, as big as a car and very formidable.


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