Internet based companies rely heavily on email services to conduct business on a day-to-day basis. Injection mold making companies are no different, even though they are truly brick-and-mortar operations. Just imagine if everyone had to revert back to snail mail!
Faxes, scans, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, screenshots, texting, the cloud, CAD systems online and more are all good examples of how dependent a manufacturing company is on things like Golden Dome Media. Imagine, at one time, not so long ago, there was only one internet provider! Startups with brash young entrepreneurs were coming of age and full of ideas.
Imagine if all you had was snail mail
Not so many years ago, when I was an apprentice, a friend of mine had a word processor. I thought this was totally amazing. It could figure out how to space sentences on the page, save things, erase and add features to the text. At the time I was a contributing author to a publication called “Hidden Treasures” and I just loved submitting articles to my friend for typing on her word processor.
Our first CNC milling machine
One day, also when I was a newly graduated apprentice, aka “journeyman”, I was given my first injection mold design and I was to build it from start to finish. I got all my cavity blocks milled and ready for heat treat. Just as I was setting out to start drilling and tapping the mounting holes the owner came by with a little shop cart and told me: “I’ll be taking these to the CNC”.
Dang! This didn’t fit into my idea of injection mold making, not at all. I immediately saw the handwriting on the wall telling me that the future was here. Just like that the old days were gone. The days of “old world craftsmanship” were now a thing of the past. My romantic notions of handcrafted by a skilled craftsman suddenly seemed antiquated, like an old charming but useless tool.
My maternal grandfather was an interesting man. He grew up in Missouri, poor and from a large farm family. Somehow he managed to make it to Colorado where he eventually became a machinist for the railroad. This was huge because soon after he started working there the depression struck like a drought.
Fortunately for him and the family, he was employed steadily for the remaining years of his working life. It was something like 50 years. The benefits were terrific, so good, in fact, that my mother retained medical benefits even after his death. Try finding benefits like that these days!
What happened to unions
I don’t really know what happened to them, but I do know that I’ve never met a toolmaker who was the least bit interested in belonging to one. At first this seemed odd to me, but after 10 years or so in the trade it started to make sense. I think that because mold makers are highly skilled and always in short supply, management tends to treat them right.
For the most part this has been the case. Toolmakers work hard and are quite loyal to the trade. So it is somewhat of a mutually beneficial relationship that needs no outside assistance.