MoldMaking Technology

DEC 2018

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International Perspective 20 MoldMaking Technology —— DECEMBER 2018 By Barbara Schulz Welcome to the Hub of Moldmaking in Portugal Portugal today boasts some of the most advanced and innovative moldmaking businesses that have nearly doubled their export and production rate over the past ten years. Here is a look at this country's recipe for success. W ith a centuries-old glass-making tradition that crossed naturally over into creat- ing molds for plastics parts in the 1940s, Portugal today is a hotbed of moldmaking and exporting, and molds from Portugal can be found in almost every major end market for plastics. Portugal's moldmaking hot spots, Marinha Grande and Oliveira de Azeméis, are located just 130 and 270 kilometers north of Lisbon, respec- tively. The regions combine more than 500 tool and moldmaking companies, many of them in walking distance from one another. The industry in these two regions employs a good 10,500 people, bringing the local unemployment rate down to less than four percent, according to Rui Feteira, com- mercial manager at a technical plastics company in Marinha Grande. "Highly skilled people are difficult to find, so like many companies in the region, we invest in automation," the commercial manager says. The company produces injection-molded parts to many Tier-1 suppliers to the automotive industry, which makes up 95 percent of the business. All of the molds that the company needs annually are made by local moldmakers. Five of them are in Images courtesy of Barbara Schulz. Many companies in Portugal are investing increasingly in five-axis machining centers and automation to produce high- end molds for customers in the automotive, packaging, home appliances and medical industries.

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