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As a full service provider in toolmaking, Top Grade Molds, Ltd., founded in 1964, provides its customers with comprehensive support from initial development to the final tool tryout. Injection molds for rigid plastic packaging, for example as used in the food industry, is the core business. The Canadian company from Mississauga, Ontario (near Toronto), employs 150 welltrained specialists to meet the high quality standards of the industry. Top Grade Molds meets the precision requirements with modern machine tools from DMG MORI. Since 2011, the company has installed 13 models from the machine tool manufacturer, including several duoBLOCK machines and one NHX 10000, as well as four NHX 5000, which are highly automated with the help of two linear pallet pools (LPP) – which increased the productivity of Top Grade Molds literally overnight.
“As a manufacturing service provider in tool and mold making, we machine one-offs and small batches,” Vince Ciccone, President and CEO of Top Grade Molds, explains when describing the day-to-day production. Co-operation with customers often begins in the product development phase. In order to remain competitive, he says, it is necessary to react flexibly and implement efficient production. “Turning and milling constitute by far the largest share of machining at 80 percent. In DMG MORI, we have found a real partner in this field.”
There were two main reasons why Top Grade Molds started investing in machine tools from DMG MORI in 2011. On the one hand, the wide product range offers suitable manufacturing solutions for almost every application. Vince Ciccone says: “On the other hand, we wanted to establish a consistent control system.”
Independent of the underlying control system, CELOS offers a uniform and clear interface. “This makes training on new machines much easier.” The range of different jobs fulfilled by the DMG MORI models is also an important factor: “We always have new orders and often set up the machines anew. Large tool magazines and good accessibility also give us the necessary flexibility.”
Vince Ciccone sees the key to optimum production in machining the demanding high-precision components for injection molds with the required precision and, above all, productively: “The rigidity and high repeatability of the DMG MORI machines are the perfect basis for this.” It is why the stable duoBLOCK machining centers and NHX models were chosen. In 2019, one NHX 10000 and two NHX 5000 – in addition to the two existing NHX 5000 – were purchased. The inherently rigid machine bed, the stepped moving column in the x-axis and 70 mm spindle bearing diameter give the horizontal machining centers the rigidity required for precise machining. Linear scales with 0.01 μm resolution are also included.
With a table load of 700 kg and a working volume of 730 × 730 × 880 mm, the NHX 5000 covers a wide range of parts so that Top Grade Molds can respond well to the constantly changing orders. As this is the case, production had to be automated, as Vince Ciccone recalls: “Of course, the aim was to increase capacity with automation.” Two of the NHX 5000 machines are equipped with a linear pallet pool. “But equally important was the flexibility to produce one-offs and small batches automatically.” The LPP installed by DMG MORI has 20 pallets, each measuring 500 × 500 mm, and a set-up station. Tool management is also integrated into the two automation solutions, so that a total of 120 tools are available per LPP. “This allows us to keep the machines working all night without any problems.”
Top Grade Molds has expanded its large part machining capacity with the NHX 10000. Travels are 1,700 × 1,400 × 1,510 mm and the table can take a load of up to 5,000 kg. The XXL horizontal machining center is made for high performance machining. The spindle has a maximum power of 40 kW and 1,413 Nm torque. The drive along the center of gravity and the overhang- free design allow for vibration-free and precise machining. Vince Ciccone appreciates the long-standing cooperation with DMG MORI, because the machine tool manufacturer now knows the requirements of Top Grade Molds: “They can anticipate very precisely which manufacturing solution will move us forward. We are in a growth phase and are constantly looking for innovative solutions to optimize our processes and open up new markets.”
Top Grade Molds Ltd.
929 Pantera Drive
Mississauga, ON, Canada
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