Pro-Mold Inc. Opts for New BOLE Injection Molding Machines
Pro-Mold Inc. Realizes Greater Efficiencies and Ease of Processing
Collecting trading card and sports memorabilia has been part of Ed Neugebauer Jr.’s life for a long time. In fact, what started out as a hobby in high school has now become his passion and livelihood. During his college years he sold baseball cards to help with expenses, so he knows the importance of having really high-end plastic cases to keep valued sports treasures and other collectibles safe and in pristine condition.
His father, Ed Neugebauer Sr., is a mold maker who is now semi-retired but serves as company president and continues to make the molds. Pro-Mold Inc., located in Kipton, Ohio, has been in business for 29 years. Ed Sr. builds the molds and Ed Jr., now the vice president, oversees the business end. Today, Pro-Mold offers 75 different products for all types of sports memorabilia - including trading cards, baseballs, and footballs, as well as other collectibles.
“We make serious protection for the serious collector,” said Neugebauer, quoting Pro-Mold’s tag line. Pro-Mold has operated with the same, older injection molding machines that include Van Dorn, Newbury and Lester machines. When the younger Neugebauer decided to purchase new presses to replace the older ones, he chose injection molding machines from BOLE Machinery USA, with U.S. headquarters in Stow, Ohio.
One look at Pro-Mold’s patented product line and you can see that molding these optically clear, flat trading card and memorabilia cases is no easy job. “Most of our cases are molded from polystyrene, but some of our higher-end trading card holders are acrylic with a UV additive,” explained Ed Jr. “Because of this, we have a smaller processing window. No orange peel or black specs are allowed.”
Because Pro-Mold’s largest competitors in the sports memorabilia and trading card market are Chinese, Neugebauer realizes that running “lean and mean” is critical to being competitive. With the four new BOLE injection molding machines, the company’s efficiencies have risen “at least 10%,” he added. “With these new machines, we can set ‘em and forget ‘em, and don’t have to worry about having an expert technician on second shift.”
Many of Pro-Mold’s molds are older – some are 25 years old – these bigger molds tend to flash in the center because they get bowed over time. The center toggle design of the BOLE molding machines helps even that out. Earlier in the summer, Pro-Mold purchased 200EK (253-ton) and 170 EKS (187-ton) presses from BOLE. “We’re also finding we can go to a lower tonnage machine on two of our most popular jobs that once ran in an older 225-ton press,” explained Neugebauer. “Those jobs only require 96 to 103 tons in the BOLE machines, and that is a lot lower that we expected," he explains. “That’s why we purchased the smaller tonnage press – the 140 EKS (154-ton) in September along with the 280 EKS (308-ton). I’m amazed we can get away with that low of tonnage since we’ve been running these same molds in 200+ ton presses for years.”
Left to Right: Neugebauer Sr., Neugebauer Jr., Craig Kayser
While Pro-Mold was forced to shut down this past March due to the pandemic - as they were considered a nonessential business - since reopening business has picked up, as the company is fulfilling new orders from the leading trading card companies and retailers. “We’re busy, but as a custom molder, in addition to our proprietary business, we now have open press time for new business from other markets we serve,” said Neugebauer.
Pro-Mold currently is running six injection molding machines that include two older presses that have yet to be replaced. When the time comes to replace them however, Neugebauer will replace them with machines from BOLE.
“I definitely see an improvement in our efficiencies and quality,” Neugebauer added, citing ease of processing across multiple machines, better repeatability vs. the older machines, lower cycle times, lower electric costs, and higher profits.
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