User Story

Airtex : CAE Services

Airtex is a full service supplier of custom designed and manufactured fuel delivery systems and water pumps for OE manufacturers around the world. As a full service supplier, Airtex has been involved with automotive original equipment manufacturers for over 30 years. It provides quality products and unique design solutions to a variety of cooling and fuel delivery system design challenges. Mid South Manufacturing, Inc. (Marked Tree, AR) is one of Airtex's manufacturing and distribution centers.

Tommy Wilson is an injection molding supervisor for Mid South. Airtex, a Tier One automotive supplier, builds automotive fuel pumps. The facility operates 17 injection molding machines 24 hours per day, five days per week, and outputs 350,000 parts per week.

Wilson says when he and his team approach a new original equipment (OE) job, they prefer to address all manufacturing issues before starting production in order to avoid problems later. Several years ago, while confiding with a car maker on a proposed new job, the customer requested that Mid South install an air evacuation system on the injection molding machine that would be molding its part. That's because the part specifications indicated that the material used to mold the part was PPS - a highly corrosive material.

Wilson notes, "At the time, we were not familiar with air evacuation systems but since we wanted that significant job, we sought quotes from vendors. Among the quotes obtained, CAE Services, a Batavia, IL plastics engineering consulting organization, offered a competitive price for its Mold-Vac unit that included a blowback feature that the other quotes did not."

Mold-Vac systems are self-contained mold evacuation systems designed to eliminate entrapped air and gas within the mold cavities prior to and during the injection cycle. The unit's patented blowback feature provides the capability to clean and purge vented ejector and core pins after each cycle. A Mold-Vac installation can significantly reduce reject rates, reduce tool steel wear, and improve molding operations.

Since then (1997), Mid South has installed four Mold-Vac systems. "We have been very satisfied with the Mold-Vac machines because they increase the tool life of our products and they help mold parts more uniformly and consistently."

He adds, "We have a lot of problems with PPS because of its corrosive characteristics. It causes tool steel wear. When we bought the first Mold-Vac system for an application, we generated more than one million shots using it. In terms of maintenance, after each production run, we disassemble the mold, clean all the vents, and reassemble it. Subsequently, we have not spent any money on repairs to that mold. Mold-Vac definitely facilitates tool life longevity and eliminates corrosion concerns."

When Wilson discovered a problem with molding a water pump, he learned that the sonic welding process used to produce it was not filling the energy bead. "We installed a Mold-Vac system to the mold and it eliminated the problem. The system is really a process enhancer. In addition, if we didn't have Mold-Vac on the machines we are running, we would experience a tremendous amount of burns. "

Mold-Vac benefits
Mold-Vac has helped tremendously in many areas including tool steel erosion. Prior to using the equipment, Mid South used service bureaus to build its impellers. The outsourced sites had to shut down every six months to rebuild molds - costing Mid South significant downtime and expenses. Using Mold-Vac in-house saves the company on tooled steel. In addition, Wilson says that every machine equipped with a Mold-Vac unit experiences less downtime and requires less maintenance.

"Purchasing a Mold-Vac system is a small investment when considering high costs associated with downstream production problems," Wilson adds. He says Mold-Vac systems are easy to set up and operate.

Wilson tells skeptics to ask themselves some important questions such as:
  1. Are you experiencing molding problems caused by trapped air or gas?
  2. Do you have high reject rates?
  3. Do you slow down filling to allow additional time for air or gas to vent?
  4. Do you change vent depth in attempts to improve venting?
  5. How much money and time are you losing because of reject due to air or gas entrapment problems?
Mark Solberg, CAE Services' vice-president of sales and marketing, adds, "Customers such as Mid South experience an almost immediate return on investment when purchasing a Mold-Vac system. The product is helping countless molders produce higher quality parts at faster rates. We are pleased that Mold-Vac is part of Mid South's equation for delivering best-in-class products to its customers."

For more information about Airtex, visit For more information about Mid South, visit Visit for more information about CAE Services.

Author: Laura Carrabine

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Page last modified on November 22, 2004
Copyright 2004 by John Stark