Molding is a crucial process in aerospace and automotive industries, so much so that molds are said to be necessary in the manufacturing of any product. Common forms of the technology include press molding and injection molding, and most cars require more than 300 different molds to take form. In the die and mold markets, Japanese-made molds are recognized for top-level quality, and this reputation continues to flourish with the growth of the manufacturing industry.
Over in Kuwana, Mie, Japan, Saito Die & Mold Factory (Saito) is a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of cast molds and die-cast molds for the automotive industry, in particular for auto parts such as engine cylinder blocks, brake caliper supports, intake manifolds, and steering rack components. Established in 1955, Saito holds strongly to its corporate mission of “Trusted Manufacturing”, which focuses on providing quality and seamless operations.
Saito’s well-maintained factory shop floor.
Apart from making new molds, Saito also undertakes repair work for customers. In the past, the company used to rely on customers to indicate the location and amount of machining required on their molds. When Saito started receiving customer requests to evaluate the molds with non-contact, “surface form measurement”, instead of the contact, “point measurement” they have been providing, the team had to look into introducing a 3D measurement device.
In actual fact, Saito had already possessed a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) with laser scanning capabilities. However, due to the complexity of the machine, only a limited number of operators knew how to use it. To make matters worse, the CMM was underutilized because it simply took too long to measure the molds with it. Whenever there was high work volume, the machine would not be able to cope and a queue for inspection meant that Saito had “stock that could not be shipped”. In order to ensure timely delivery, the company decided to invest in a measurement device that enables them to perform surface form measurements quickly.
During Saito’s search for a new solution, a distributor introduced one of FARO’s portable CMM – the FARO Edge ScanArm ES. Right at the product demonstration, it became clear that the 3D measurement device would be a perfect fit for the measurement needs that Saito had. Mr. Kiyoshi Saito, President, Saito, joyously exclaimed, “I’ve found it – this is it! FARO’s device is easy to operate and not restricted to just a select few engineers. With the speed that measurements can be acquired, we can save a great deal of time.”
One of the main benefits that Saito enjoyed about the ScanArm ES was its portability. As the device can be brought to any production site for measurement, it won the team over readily. Saito had originally considered imaging technology measurement devices, but an inherent shortcoming was the fixed nature of those devices. As molds easily weigh up to hundreds of kilograms, it would have been extremely difficult and time consuming to move and position them onto a machine. Moreover, the work would require frequent rotation of the mold to capture various sides of the object, further necessitating an easier way to measure the weighty molds. With a portable CMM like the ScanArm ES, the operator can move the arm to scan an object easily, completing the measurement in a much shorter time. “If any rework is required after an inspection, the mold returns to the processing machine immediately,” added President Saito. “It is very important to measure quickly.”
The portable FARO Edge ScanArm ES allows easy on-site measurement to be completed in a short time.
In addition, the team at Saito also appreciated the enhanced capabilities of surface geometry that they gained with the ScanArm ES. Mr. Shinji Otsu, Managing Director, Saito, mentioned, “Since we started using the FARO Edge ScanArm ES, we have been able to measure in a way that never used to be possible. We can now evaluate our products in a precise manner, including difficult molds and parts we just never measured before.”
Sharing about what sets the company apart, President Saito revealed, “Many companies are capable of producing high-quality, precise molds. However, we are known for our ‘diligent support, speed, and smooth operations’. For that reason, ensuring on-time delivery and addressing urgent requests from customers are exceptionally important aspects of our service.” In line with that, the ScanArm ES enables the team at Saito to check its molds and attend to customer requests swiftly.
One of Saito’s strengths is in its breadth of experiences, and hence its ability to make recommendations to customers. The company’s wide exposure with a large network enables the team to learn and adapt across projects, indirectly benefitting its customers. As an example, Saito once recommended that a customer change its materials to lengthen the lifespan of its molds and to reduce defects. Mr. Otsu shared, “There is a natural tendency to stay with tried-and-tested ways of manufacturing, but we rob ourselves of a chance to grow if we shy away from trying new things! In some ways, the introduction of FARO Edge ScanArm ES to the shop was a challenge to our team. Through that implementation, we look forward to seeing more positive changes in the company.”
Saito relies on the FARO Edge ScanArm ES for non-contact measurement, enjoying significant time-savings. (Note: Photo edited for commercial confidentiality)
When asked about the manufacturing industry at large, President Saito showed concern for the decline observed in Japan, seeing how many mold manufacturers have relocated overseas. He mentioned, “Repairing a mold that was made overseas takes more time as it is hard to tell how it was made. It is also more costly because it requires more work to service, as compared to a mold that we manufactured.”
As the mold-making industry is considered the most basic block of all manufacturing technologies in Japan, it is important to protect its place in the market. Mr. Otsu said, “While utilizing today’s technology, we must look ahead to ensure development for the future generations, so that we can secure the success of Japanese manufacturing in the years to come.”
Saito Mold & Die Factory (Saito) holds fast to its corporate belief of “Trusted Manufacturing”. Engaged in molding manufacturing since 1955, the company designs and manufactures cast molds and aluminum die-cast molds for automobile parts (e.g. engine blocks, caliper supports, intake manifolds, steering racks, etc.). Saito is also actively involved in environmental control activities, promoting the reduction of waste and the adoption of 5S (seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke) activities.
For more information, please visit URL: http://www.saitokanagata.co.jp/
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