Today’s episode of The Women of American Manufacturing podcast features Christina Fuges, a woman who pioneered publications (with others, as she’s quick to add) that built and now support the active community of American mold makers. Today, that community makes up over 500 companies. Christina is filling a need for this niche category of manufacturing that focuses on the manufacture and maintenance of a mold—“from design to first shot”. Even though she was young and green at the beginning, her desire to learn and create something of value powered both her speed and her success. Today she is still energized by the work she does at MoldMaking Technology and it fires me up, too.
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Why Christina is a woman in American manufacturing worth knowing
Christina has her finger (or whole hand) on the pulse of what’s going on in American mold making. She knows the past, the present, and also has some really interesting predictions for the future of the industry. Christina is fearless, confident, and so fun to talk to. Find her at AmeriMold 2021 in Rosemont, IL September 21st-23rd.
A surprising thing that came out of the conversation
Christina doesn’t consider herself an expert because she’s not a mold maker herself. I disagreed with this paradigm, that in order to be an expert in an industry you must know the ins and outs of the technical applications. I am noticing this as a trend among women in American manufacturing– that they are quick to downplay or even dismiss their own expertise. I ultimately encouraged her to concede that because she knows the structure, the needs, the solutions, etc. of the mold making industry, she is, therefore, an expert.
Key Takeaway: The Next Generation of Mold Makers Will be All About Data & Technology
Mold making is really about highly accurate, one-of-a-kind custom parts. The complexities and tolerances involved in mold work — making the parts that make parts — means it’s a very demanding business to be in. A mold itself is no longer just a cavity and core that comes together and pumps out a part; it’s a manufacturing system that’s unique unto itself, a truly engineered product. So when we think about the products of a mold maker, they’re really integrated machines that are built upon both science and data.
With this in mind, Christina explained that the next generation of mold makers will need to be completely reliant on technology to keep the industry moving forward because the goal for everyone in the industry is to engineer a better, more cost-effective mold. She calls it “Tooling 4.0.” With the current generation of mold makers retiring at a fast clip, and their decades of tribal knowledge leaving with them, it’s on the next generation to make sure that tribal knowledge is captured, retained, and translated into the technology that drives their business forward.
Favorite Answer From Rapid Fire Questions
I asked about the most recent movie she watched, and her answer was this series on Netflix – Formula 1: Drive to Survive. I guess it’s so good it should be a movie! Also, her comments about sea urchins were hilarious. Please listen all the way to the end for a good laugh about “gross” sushi.
-Lindsey Athanasiou, VP of Strategic Relationships at Paperless Parts