Brett Blanchard, Senior Project Engineer, Injection Mold Tooling
"What is exciting is being able to work with a customer who is depending upon me and Xometry to help them not only bring a good product to market, but also help them understand how this is all happening. I want to explain how the tooling functions and how plastic parts are molded without getting into the technical weeds with them – unless that's what they want."
At Xometry, I'm a DFM case manager in the injection mold tooling group. My experience goes back at least 30 years. I started out in this industry working at a family-owned business that focused on diecast dyes and trim dyes. That business evolved as plastics became more prevalent in automobiles. We transitioned over to building plastic injection molds, and I started out working in the shop working on tooling, learning how to run various machines, and worked through various processes involved in building injection molds. That's how I got my education in this industry.
After 20 years, my father and I decided to sell the business. I went to work for a large automotive interior trim company, Lear, working on injection molding for interior trim, instrument panels, center consoles, steering wheel covers, that sort of thing. I've worked several jobs since then, including at SRG Global. I thought I knew all you could about injection molding and building injection molded tooling but SRG Global's niche market is chrome-plated automotive plastic. It's a whole next level of knowledge on how to build tooling and molded parts because the parts have to be absolutely pristine. It was very challenging, but it served me very well and gave me a thorough understanding of molding processes and the intricacies of it.
What I think is special is the range of our customers. We build parts for everyone from the big automotive and aerospace companies down to kitchen table inventors. Xometry gives anyone who wants to manufacture access to do so. Working at big companies for many years, I often wondered: how does a little guy get something made? Xometry offers easy access to manufacturing for people who just have great ideas or dreams.
We are working on a project for a large manufacturer of HVAC components. I've built quite a few projects for them at a prototype level, but now they want to move on to the next phase, which is large-volume production. We’re putting together a plan for them that involves building the tooling in China, where we’ll also sample them to make sure they function properly before shipping them to the U.S. Then a U.S.-based Xometry partner will inspect them and conduct mold trials to make sure everything is assembled correctly and meets the customer specs. From there, the parts will shift into the customer molding facility. From prototype to large-volume production, we can put together projects that work for all of our customers needs.
Probably 75% to 80% of my customers don’t know what injection molding is. They don't know how to get started. All they know is that they've got this 3D file and a part print and they need to get this made. What is exciting is being able to work with a customer who is depending upon me and Xometry to help them not only bring a good product to market, but also help them understand how this is all happening. I want to explain how the tooling functions and how plastic parts are molded without getting into the technical weeds with them – unless that's what they want.
It's a special skill set that people in my group possess, where we can work with a customer, recognize their knowledge level and depth of understanding, and modify our presentation accordingly. I've been able to use my knowledge acquired over decades to help a customer go from something that they were totally afraid of to, “Hey, I get it.” I feel good about that. Who doesn't feel good about doing a good job, right?