April 14, 2014
One of my colleagues turned me on to an outfit near Toledo called ICOMold. I’ve been poking around their website and fiddling with their software. Interesting. So who are these guys and what do they offer you? Let’s start with an intro.
ICOMold is an ISO 9001:2008 registered rapid injection mold and part service provider. They have worldwide sales and service offices in Ohio, and manufacturing facilities in China. The Ohioans prepare, launch and track your projects. Their build capabilities include CNC milling machines, wire and probe EDM machines and so forth.
ICOMold can make parts up to 48 in. long (plastic injection molding) or nearly any size (CNC). Services provided include overmolding, insert molding, ultrasonic welding, transfers of 2D objects onto 3D objects and silk screening. They can also make your custom functional prototypes, reverse engineer parts and create 3D models from 2D prints or sketches. Parts are quality checked for dimensions and appearance, and results are documented in a QC report.
Various materials and colors are available, and ICOMold can work with you if you need specialty resins and colors. Typical turnaround time appears to range from 5 days for most CNC prototypes and short runs, and from 2 to 5 weeks for plastic injection molds, depending your specific requests, part complexity, shipping and other variables. Of note here is that ICOMold is developing a mold frame sharing system so that you can select a compatible premade mold frame. This should reduce costs and shorten lead times.
The ICOMold website has a decent amount of help so that you can make informed decisions about what they have to offer. For example, under its Resources tab, you’ll find links to details on materials, finishes and colors ICOMold has to work with. If you hit the materials link, you get information beyond type and characteristics, such as the supplier. You can also download the specs.
Similarly, the Learning Center tab offers links to more details. These include design guidelines and a basic primer on the injection molding process, equipment and tooling designs. It also offers a glossary of terms, images of parts ICOMold has made, testimonials and a knowledge base that has all sorts of things like additional data on plastic injection mold processes, articles on injection molding, policy statements and so on.
All sounds good. But what I found slick is their injection mold quote software called ICOQuote. You can download version 1.0 of this Windows software (registration required) directly from the company’s website. The download, unpacking and updating was fast.
What makes ICOQuote interesting is that it’s an interactive injection mold quote generator that you run from the privacy of your desktop. As you enter in your project details, ICOQuote generates a quote that includes tooling and shipping costs on the fly. That means three things. One, you can easily investigate different material or finish options and what they’re going to cost you. Two, you end up with an RFQ (request for quote) that should be pretty darn close to your final price, making budgeting easy. Three, you can compare and contrast this quote to your previous experience and with other providers under consideration.
How ICOQuote works is that you upload a STEP file of your part. There’s a built-in 3D viewer that enables you to verify it’s the right one. The software attaches a thumbnail image of your part to a proposal form, then draws out details like size and weight. You select your material, finish, color, sample and shipping quantities and tooling life. If you have a few parts to get pricing on, you can group them together into a family.
Terms and conditions are spelled out, and there’s a button to email your quote to ICOMold where an engineer in Ohio will review it and confirm everything. You can save your quote in PDF or Excel format. (According to my contact, older versions of Excel file may have problems with the XLS file it creates.) The confirmed quote can then be used to initiate the deal with ICOMold if you decide to go ahead. In short, this is pretty neat.
Today’s Check it Out link takes you to the ICOMold website so that you can check them out for yourself. Download the software from the link on the top right of the ICOMold home page then give it a try. ICOQuote seems a helpful tool that should only become more useful over time.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering