Tool & Die

Timely weld expertise wins converts

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Laser repair on an aluminum mill fixture at Accurate Welding.

Industry demands swift reaction and results to stay competitive

May 2014 - For a job shop, a few hours can translate to missing a deadline rather than meeting one. The automotive sector’s prototypes require strict adherence to specifications and if something breaks, production comes to a painstaking halt. How a manufacturer responds to these challenges is what keeps business coming back.

Reputation counts for a lot and Eclipse Mold Inc. has been doing business with nearby Accurate Welding since 1976. Both are located in Michigan townships east of Anchor Bay on Lake St. Clair. Through the ups and downs of the auto industry, Eclipse Mold has seen some years go more bust than boom, but lately, orders are on an uptick. FFJ-0514-tool-image1“Customer demands are much higher now than ever before and timelines have shrunk,” says Rob Srbinovich, floor supervisor and shop foreman at Eclipse Mold. “We’ve built all kinds of tools for pretty much every part that’s ever been in a car. The faster I can get my jobs out, the better.”

Eclipse Mold builds a wide range of tools, including tiny electronic molds, requiring 0.002 in. to 0.003 in. worth of laser weld in a very small area that has to be exact. “If it’s not welded precisely, it adds hours of work for us, which in the end directly affects our profit margin,” Srbinovich says. “Accurate Welding can cover any welding task that needs to be accomplished from the smallest laser weld to adding an inch of weld conventionally. No job is too large or too small. They have all the right equipment to do the job.” 

Repair or modification projects can be urgent and Srbinovich has come across a number of close calls. “We had something break on an overnight shift and called Derek [Starks] at Accurate Welding, who worked through the night to make sure we were up and running to meet our deadline,” he says. “It’d be impossible for me to count how many times they’ve kept that shop open when it would have otherwise been closed, just to satisfy our needs—impossible.”

Starks, president of Accurate Welding, is often at the other end of that late-night phone call. Serving the industry for 40 years, his company has gained expertise in the field. Most of its services meet the needs of tier three automotive suppliers. “Quick turnaround is standard in this industry. It’s the knowledge and experience we have working with all different kinds of metal that make the difference,” Starks says. 

Steadfast support

Unlike the decades-long relationship shared by Eclipse Mold, Positive Industries has been working with Accurate Welding for a mere six months, yet, in that time, the company has come to appreciate Accurate’s superiority. “We had other welding sources but it came down to inexperience—the guys we had didn’t know how to approach all the different types of alloys and steels we work with,” says Aaron Lysic, plant superintendent at Positive Industries, which is part of Warren, Mich.-based Hercules Machine Tool and Die LLC. “We initially sent steel to our welders for a number of different processes and they machined it and it was horrible. We had another welder grind the material and it was even worse. Then Derek came in and told us we had to undercut it and then do the process needed, and it was great.”

Positive Industries manufactures steel and high-carbon steel prototypes for the auto industry and conducts trials. “The steel has to get treated and dies have to be treated. The high amount of carbon that comes to the surface after treatment when welders draw carbon to the surface, [each process] can bring out impurities. It looks fine until you weld it again and the ion nitrate reacts—it’s one of the most difficult items to weld,” says Lysic.

“In the tool and die welding game, we need it welded fast,” he continues. “That one tool or die holds up the entire operation and you have to wait until it is fixed to start back up again.” 

In one instance, Lysic had a job where during flushing down a weld on a die, little weld pockets formed. “I had to grind the weld out so I had Derek over and they took it and fixed it and sent it all back and we were able to cut without the raw welds.” 

Because it isn’t always possible to see what’s underneath a weld, impurities appear once heat is applied. “So Derek used a porosity welding process and it came out great.”

With the thousands of grades of steel available comes a host of different welding processes. Starks receives tooling, die and mold repairs, and alterations from customers. “We received parts pre-engineered from customers—like Ford Motor Co. or General Motors—when a new model change requires subtle changes to existing tools, for example,” Starks explains. “We make the slight alterations to the part configuration. Instead of making new tooling, we make changes by welding and remachining shapes so they can reuse their existing tools instead of making completely new ones.”


These weld changes and repairs dictated by customers are crucial and unforgiving. Starks’ crew needs to be able to go beyond welding by fixing difficult tooling as well as hold tight tolerances for rough and other kinds of surfaces. 

Dies require applying a much broader array of solutions. “We did a tool change for Positive Industries for a part on the body side of a vehicle—fender welds,” Starks says. “We were changing the existing shape for a part using tools. We piled up welds so they could reshape the part for a new configuration. The same goes for engineering molds: parting line change, different geometrical changes. As far as mold and die repairs, if there is an area that’s been damaged, while a lot of these guys have welding capabilities, they come to us for our ability to do extremely complicated welds.”

A local resource

For companies that receive stamping dies from overseas, it makes more sense to have repairs done domestically. At one large automotive supplier, Ray Genick, engineer and director of new business development, relies on Accurate Welding as a partner for die repair. 

“As a large, multinational company, we are very diverse. When tools come back from the Pacific Rim or one of our in-house divisions … changes are sometimes necessary,” Genick says. For example, “We find that we need to change some critical details. Timing and quality of the changes hinges on Accurate Welding’s lasers. Accurate Welding can weld some very critical areas and we can refinish them here. 

“We produce a very large number of progressive dies that have to be in production for many years,” he continues. “Many are very complex with hundreds of moving parts. There’s a lot of movement in the die and sliding parts and portions of those progressive dies wear out. So it’s very cost-effective to laser weld those worn areas so we can refinish them without having to build a whole new tool. The new tools are very expensive. Accurate Welding does a great job fixing those kinds of problems.”

Genick says his company uses Accurate Welding in particular for quick turnaround and time-sensitive repairs. Prototype dies and very difficult associated parts can be completed using the welding and CNC knowledge Accurate Welding possesses. “When we need emergency repairs or even scheduled repairs done—they’re always consistent and that’s why we use them,” Genick says. “When we break a die and we’re on deadline where we need it overnight or the next day, or even later the same day—I don’t think any of the other welders we’ve used can do it as quickly as Accurate Welding has.”

Srbinovich points out that sheer ability isn’t the sole benefit customers find from Accurate Welding. Advice and tips are readily available from Starks—even if that means recommending an option that doesn’t require Accurate Welding’s services. <

“They share their knowledge. They don’t just do what they’re told, they listen to what we plan on doing and offer suggestions,” Srbinovich says. “I might tell them I want to weld something and they’ll tell me if I weld it like that, I might run into this and that [problem]—even if that means they’ve just lost money, they want to make sure we get the part right. 

“They will turn down a weld because it’s the right thing to do, because they know it’s not going to get the results we are looking for,” he continues. “They even offer suggestions and other solutions, like adding an insert because welding alone will not result in the best tool condition. They offer a lot of character and integrity.” FFJ




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