Mold Making as a Red Seal Trade in Canada: Unlocking Potential
Prepared by Nicole Vlanich, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Moldmakers
This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of mold making in Canada and advocates for its recognition as a Red Seal Trade. Drawing on statistical data, it highlights the crucial role of mold making in various industries and its impact on the Canadian economy. By considering mold making for Red Seal designation, Canada can foster a skilled and mobile workforce, enhance industry credibility, and reinforce its position in the global manufacturing landscape. This paper sheds light on the current status of mold making, apprenticeship trends, and the potential benefits of Red Seal certification, backed by statistical evidence.
Mold making is a specialized craft that plays a crucial role in shaping various industries in Canada. This paper explores the statistical significance of mold making and emphasizes the reasons why it should be considered a Red Seal Trade. 4 of the 5 largest mold makers in the world have locations in Ontario, Canada and Windsor, Ontario is known as a significant manufacturing hub for mold making. Canadian companies are significant players in the world’s mold making industry and it is important to the Canadian company that this remains the case. Canadian mold making needs to become a Red Seal trade to secure its position among world industry leaders.
The Red Seal Program and Mold Making
The industry significance of mold making is substantial, as it plays a crucial role in various sectors of the manufacturing industry. Mold making involves the creation of precision tools, molds, and dies use din the production of components and products made from various materials, such as plastics, metals, and composites. The molds produced by mold makers serve as the foundation for manufacturing processes, enabling the efficient and accurate mass production of a wide range of products.
Here are some key aspects of the industry significance of mold making:
- Manufacturing Efficiency: Mold making is essential for achieving high levels of manufacturing efficiency. Molds are used in processes like injection molding, blow molding, compression molding, and die casting, allowing manufacturers to produce large quantities of products in a cost-effective manner. The precision and quality of molds directly impact production speed and material usage, resulting in reduced waste and increased productivity.
- Diverse Applications: Mold making caters to numerous industries. The versatility of mold making allows for the production of a wide range of products used in everyday life.
- Technological Advancements: the mold making industry continually embraces technological advancements, such as CSD design and CAM software, advanced manufacturing techniques and additive manufacturing. The technologies enhance the precision and complexity of mold designs, making it possible to create intricate and sophisticated products.
- Innovation and Product Development: Mold making fosters innovation and product development by enabling the create of new and improved products. Manufacturers can design and prototype components with the help of molds, allowing them to test and refine designs before full-scale production. This iterative process supports continuous improvement and fosters innovation.
- Economic Impact: The mold making industry has a significant economic impact. As a vital part of the manufacturing sector, mold makers contribute to job creation, GDP growth, and export potential. The availability of high-quality molds within Canada also encourages domestic manufacturing and reduces dependence of imported components.
- Supply Chain Resilience: Having a robust domestic mold making industry enhances a country’s supply chain resilience. Local mold makers can respond quickly to changing market demands and supply components to manufacturers, reducing reliance on international suppliers and possible disruptions to the supply chain.
- Sustainable Manufacturing: Mold making contributes to sustainable manufacturing practices by optimizing material usage and minimizing waste. The ability to produce precise molds allows manufacturers to create lightweight, efficient, and environmentally friendly products, reducing environmental impact.
Mold making is a highly specialized craft that involves a significant level of complexity and expertise. Canadian mold makers are known for creating high quality molds with precision. Mold making is an essential part of the manufacturing supply chain, providing critical components that enable the production of diverse products, directly impacting the overall manufacturing process and increasing Canadian exports while reducing the need to import.
The complexity and expertise required in mold making stem from various aspects of the process:
- Design and Engineering: Mold making begins with the design and engineering phase. Mold makers must interpret product specifications and design precise molds that meet required tolerance and specifications. This involves CAD software to create 2D and 3D models of the molds, taking into account material properties, product dimensions and manufacturing processes.
- Material Selection: Mold makers must possess knowledge of various materials and understand their characteristics and behaviour during the molding process. Selecting the appropriate material for a specific application is critical to ensure the mold’s durability, longevity, and performance.
- CNC Machining: Once the mold design is finalized, mold makers use CNC machines to precisely fabricate the mold components. CNC machining involves programing the machines to execute precise cutting, milling, and shaping operations on the mold materials, achieving the required dimensions and surface finishes.
- Multi-Cavity Molds: Mold makers often create multi-cavity molds, allowing for the simultaneous production of multiple parts in a single molding cycle. Designing and manufacturing these molds require advanced engineering and machining skills to ensure balanced and uniform molding.
- Problem-Solving and Troubleshooting: Mold making involves complex problem-solving skills. Mold makers must identify and address issues that may arise during the manufacturing process. Troubleshooting requires a deep understanding of mold behaviour and the ability to make adjustments for optimal results.
- Continuous Learning and Innovation: The field of mold making is continuously evolving with advancements. Mold makers need to stay updated on latest developments, adopt innovative technologies, and embrace new technologies to remain competitive.
Mold making contributes significantly to Canada’s manufacturing GDP, which encompassed 10.6% in 2020. Several industries would face significant challenges and disruptions without the crucial role of mold makers. Mold makers are essential to providing precision tools and molds used in the production of components and products in various sectors.
Some of the industries that heavily rely on mold makers and would face collapse or severe setbacks without their expertise include:
- Automotive: Mold makers supply molds used in the production of automotive parts. Without mold makers, the automotive industry would struggle to produce the complex and precise components required for vehicles. Mold makers play a crucial role in the production of EVs as well and are relied on for various components including, battery casings, battery enclosures, cooling systems that are critical components that protect and regulate the temperature of EV batteries ensuring optimal performance and longevity, interior components, motor components such as rotors which are essential to EV drivetrains, EV housings, and charging connectors. Molds for the production of lightweight and high strength materials, such as carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, help improve the overall efficiency and range of EVs. Mold makers are also critical to the manufacturing of charging infrastructures and the alignment with eco-friendly manufacturing. Mold makers ensure a smooth and efficient supply chain for production.
- Packaging Industry: the packaging industry requires molds for manufacturing containers, bottles, caps, closures, and other packaging solutions. Mold makers play a critical role in ensuring the efficient and consistent production of packaging materials.
- Aerospace Industry: The aerospace industry relies on molds to produce complex components for aircraft, such as interior parts, wing components, and engine parts. Without mold makers, the production of intricate aerospace components would be severely impacted.
- Medical and Healthcare Industry: Mold makers provide molds used in the production of medical devices, surgical instruments, and pharmaceutical packaging. Without mold makers, the healthcare industry would face challenges in producing essential medical equipment and supplies.
- Electronics Industry: mold makers supply molds for the production of electronic components, such as connectors, housing, and casings. The electronics industry heavily relies on mold makers to manufacture precise components for various devices.
- Consumer Goods Industry: Mold makers supply molds used in the production so various consumer goods, including electronic devices, household appliances, toys, and kitchenware. Without mold makers, the consumer goods industry would struggle to produce diverse goods efficiently.
- Industrial equipment industry: Industries that produce machinery and industrial equipment utilize molds to manufacture precision parts and components. The industrial equipment industry would face challenges in producing critical machinery components without mold makers.
- Furniture Industry: Mold makers supply molds used in the production of furniture components, such as chair seats, armrests and table surfaces without mold makers, the furniture industry would face difficulties in producing standardized and quality furniture pieces.
- Construction Industry: the construction industry uses molds for producing precast concrete elements, such as beams, columns, and decorative elements. Without mold makers, the construction industry’s ability to prefabricate essential components would be limited.
- Appliances Industry: Mold makers supply molds for the production of components used in household appliance, such as washing machines, refrigerators, and ovens. The appliances industry would face challenges in producing reliable and functional appliances without mold makers.
Mold makers’ expertise is critical in supporting various industries’ innovation, production, and supply chain processes. Without their contributions, many industries would struggle to manufacture precise and complex components, leading to disruptions and potential collapses in their respective sectors.
Several products rely on molded parts and components and would not be possible or would be significantly limited in their design and functionality.
Some products that would not be possible without mold makers include:
- Plastic containers and bottles: Mold makers enable the production of plastic containers and bottles used for packaging beverages, food items, personal care products and household goods.
- Automotive components: Mold makers are essential to producing various auto components, including bumpers, dashboards, interior trims, door panels and engine parts.
- Medical Devices: Mold makers supply molds used in the production of medical devices such as syringes, inhalers, catheters, and diagnostic equipment.
- Electronics and Gadgets: Mold makers enable the production of electronic components like smartphone casings, computer housings, connectors, and other small electronic parts.
- Pharmaceutical Packaging: Mold makers contribute to the production of pharmaceutical packaging solutions, including blister packs and vials.
- Consumer Electronics: Mold makers play a crucial role in producing components for consumer electronic devices including TV frames, remote controls, and audio equipment.
- Aerospace Components: Mold makers supply molds used in the production of intricate aerospace components, such as aircraft interior parts, wing components and engine housing.
- Household Appliances: mold makers enable the production of components used in appliances like washing machines, fridges, ovens, and microwaves.
- Sporting Equipment: Mold makers support the production of sports equipment such as helmets, protective gear, and components for sports accessories.
- Furniture components: mold makers provide molds for furniture components like chair seats, armrests, table surfaces and decorative elements.
- Construction materials: mold makers enable the production of many elements in construction.
- Packaging Caps and Closures: Mold makers produce molds for the production of caps and closures used in packaging various products.
These are just a few examples of products that heavily rely on the expertise of mold makers. The ability to create molds for shaping materials into specific forms and tolerances is fundamental to the manufacturing process in numerous industries, allowing for the mass production of products that have become integral in daily lives.
The labour market demand for Canadian mold making drives the need for skilled mold making to support manufacturing operations. As technology advances, mold makers need to stay updated with latest tools, software, and manufacturing processes. The demand for skilled mold makers who can work with advanced technologies remains high. Like many other industries, mold making is facing a labor shortage due to retirement of experienced professionals creating the need for skilled workers. There is also an increased need for mold makers due to the growth of the industries that rely heavily on molded products.
The skilled labour shortage in mold making leads to reduced productivity and reduced efficiency. Projects face delays, affecting production timelines across industries. The shortage of workers leads to quality concerns, as inexperienced or inadequately trained employees struggle to meet the exacting standards required in the production of molds. The workload of existing employees also increases leading to burnout. The shortage has had an impact on industry competitiveness finding it challenging to keep up with the productivity of the US.
The skilled labor shortage is a significant challenge facing the mold making industry and has several impacts:
1. Increased Competition for Talent: The shortage of skilled workers in the mold making industry has led to increased competition among companies to attract and retain qualified professionals. This competition can drive up labor costs and create challenges in finding the right talent for specific roles.
2. Reduced Productivity and Efficiency: The lack of skilled workers can lead to reduced productivity and efficiency in mold making operations. When there are not enough skilled professionals to handle the design, engineering, and manufacturing processes, projects may face delays, affecting overall production timelines.
3. Limited Capacity for Growth: The skilled labor shortage can limit a company’s capacity for growth. As demand for mold making services increases, businesses may struggle to expand their operations due to the lack of skilled workers available to take on new projects.
4. Impact on Innovation: Skilled workers play a crucial role in driving innovation within the mold making industry. The shortage of talent can hinder the development and implementation of new technologies and techniques, potentially slowing down progress and stifling innovation.
5. Quality and Precision Concerns: Mold making requires a high level of precision and attention to detail. The shortage of skilled workers may lead to quality concerns, as inexperienced or inadequately trained employees may struggle to meet the exacting standards required in the production of molds.
6. Increased Workload on Existing Employees: With a shortage of skilled labor, existing employees may have to take on additional responsibilities and workload to compensate. This can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction among the workforce.
7. Difficulty in Finding Apprentices: The skilled labor shortage can also impact the recruitment of new talent through apprenticeship programs. If there are not enough experienced mold makers available to serve as mentors, the training and development of new apprentices may be hindered.
8. Impact on Industry Competitiveness: The mold making industry’s competitiveness can be affected by the shortage of skilled labor. Companies in regions facing severe labor shortages may find it challenging to compete with firms in areas with a more abundant supply of skilled workers.
Canadian mold making companies are struggling to find both skilled workers and apprentices. Individuals interested in entering the skilled trades are more likely to enter a Red Seal Trade due to the availability of additional training, grants, subsidies and tax credits that are offered to only Red Seal Trades, such as the Apprenticeship Completion Grant that provides $1000 for the first year of an apprenticeship program and an additional $1000 upon completion of an apprenticeship program and obtaining Red Seal certification. Individuals entering a Red Seal trade also qualify for education loans, such as OSAP, and can apply for EI benefits. Workforce development programs are also available to support individuals in accessing training and education for Red Seal trades. Employers may also sponsor employees for Red Seal trades.
New Canadians also prefer to enter a Red Seal Trade because they can receive funding and financial support through various government programs and initiatives. The Canadian government, along with provincial and territorial governments, offer several funding options to support these individuals who want to enter a Red Seal Trade. There are also opportunities for new Canadians to be sponsored, receive scholarships or bursaries through private organizations, educational institutions, and trade association if they enter a Red Seal trade. These programs aim to promote workforce development, address skills shortages, and help individuals access training opportunities for in-demand trades.
Although mold making meets the above criteria, including skills shortages and being listed as an on-demand trade, it is not currently included as a Red Seal Trade. This deters individuals from pursuing this trade, since there is financial assistance and additional training available for Red Seal trades. The importance of mold making to the manufacturing sector, including most of the Red Seal trades, indicates the necessity to ensuring the industry thrives and continues to see individuals pursue mold making careers. By including mold making as a Red Seal trade, it ensures the success of Canadian manufacturing and will lead to increased interest in the trade.
Trades in Canada benefit from being Red Seal trades due to several key reasons. The Red Seal Program is a national standard for skilled trades that provides uniformity and recognition across all provinces and territories in Canada. The main advantages of being designated as a Red Seal trade:
- National Mobility: One of the primary benefits of being a Red Seal trade is that it allows certified tradespeople to work in any province or territory in Canada without having to undergo additional assessments or re-certification. This mobility facilitates the movement of skilled workers to regions with higher demand, addressing labour shortages more effectively.
- Standardized Training: Red Seal trades undergo a rigorous certification process that ensures standardized training and education across the country. This uniformity in training helps maintain high-quality standards for skilled workforce, enhancing the overall competency and expertise of tradespeople.
- Industry Credibility: Red Seal certification is well-respected by employers and industry nationally recognized standard of excellence, which can enhance their credibility and employability in the job market.
- Professional Development: The Red Seal Program encourages tradespeople to continue their professional development through apprenticeships and further education. This commitment to ongoing learning ensures that tradespeople stay updated with the latest industry trends and technologies.
- Competitive Advantage: Red Seal trades may have a competitive advantage in the job, as employers often prefer hiring certified workers due to their demonstrated proficiency and national recognition.
- Export Opportunities: Red Seal certification can also benefit tradespeople seeking international employment opportunities. The program is recognized by several countries, which may facilitate the mobility of skilled workers across borders.
- Career Progression: Red Seal certification can open doors to career advancement and leadership roles within industry. The standardized training and national recognition provide a solid foundation for long-term career growth.
- Industry Support: The Red Seal Program is supported by industry stakeholders, including employers, labor unions, and trade organizations. This support fosters a collaborative approach to skills development and addresses the specific needs of each trade.
- Skills Shortage Mitigation: Red Seal trades help address the skilled labor shortage by attracting individuals too pursue careers in skilled trades. The program encourages more people to consider trades as viable and rewarding career options.
The Red Seal program’s standardized training, national mobility, industry recognition, and career advancement opportunities provide numerous benefits to tradespeople, employers, and the Canadian economy as a whole. By promoting a skilled and mobile workforce, the Red Seal Program plays a vital role in sustaining and enhancing Canada’s competitive position in the global job market and the manufacturing industry.
Advantages of Red Seal Designation for Mold Making
a. Industry Credibility: Red Seal certification brings industry-wide recognition of the skill and competence of mold makers, elevating the trade’s status and attracting more individuals to pursue careers in this field.
b. National Mobility: Red Seal endorsement allows mold makers to work seamlessly across provinces and territories, addressing skill shortages and fostering a mobile and flexible workforce.
c. Export Potential: By attaining Red Seal certification, Canadian mold makers gain international recognition as highly qualified professionals, enhancing the export potential of Canadian-made molds and components.
d. Economic Impact: Mold making, with its direct and indirect contributions to various industries, has a considerable impact on Canada’s GDP and economic growth potential.
e. Funding: Employers who hire individuals in a Red Seal trade can apply for funding, subsidies and tax credits that are not currently available to non-Red Seal trades. These opportunities with help SMEs with the additional costs of training. Funding available for Apprentices in Red Seal Trades will also increase the use of apprentices by mold making companies.
Skills Development and Training Programs required by Canadian Mold Makers:
A Canadian mold maker requires a diverse set of skills development and training to excel in their profession. These skills encompass technical expertise, practical knowledge, and soft skills necessary for success in the mold making industry. Here is a list of skills development and training required by a Canadian mold maker:
1. Mold Design and Engineering: Comprehensive training in mold design and engineering, including understanding customer requirements, creating 2D and 3D designs, and selecting appropriate materials and components.
2. CNC Machining: Proficiency in computer numerical control (CNC) machining, which involves operating CNC machines, interpreting blueprints, and programming tool paths.
3. Injection Molding Processes: Knowledge of injection molding processes, including setting up and operating injection molding machines, troubleshooting, and optimizing process parameters.
4. Mold Assembly and Tooling: Training in mold assembly, disassembly, and maintenance, as well as tooling procedures to ensure proper functioning and longevity of molds.
5. CAD/CAM Software: Familiarity with computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software for mold design, simulations, and generating machining codes.
6. Materials Selection: Understanding the properties of different materials used in mold making, such as metals and plastics, and their suitability for specific applications.
7. Quality Control and Inspection: Training in quality control methods, inspection techniques, and precision measurement tools to ensure the accuracy and quality of mold components.
8. Workplace Safety: Comprehensive training on workplace safety protocols, including handling of hazardous materials, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and adherence to safety guidelines.
9. Problem Solving and Troubleshooting: Developing problem-solving skills to identify and address issues that may arise during the mold making process.
10. Project Management: Training in project management principles to effectively plan, execute, and complete mold making projects within specified timelines and budgets.
11. Communication Skills: Effective communication skills to collaborate with team members, understand client requirements, and provide updates on project progress.
12. Continuous Learning: A commitment to continuous learning and staying up to date with advancements in mold making technologies, materials, and industry best practices.
13. Teamwork and Collaboration: Ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams, including designers, engineers, and production staff, to ensure seamless mold development and production processes.
14. Adaptability and Flexibility: Being adaptable to handle varying project requirements, tight deadlines, and changes in design specifications.
15. Customer Service: Providing excellent customer service by addressing client needs, offering technical support, and maintaining positive client relationships.
Mold makers who possess a well-rounded skill set, supported by continuous training and development, are better equipped to succeed in the dynamic and competitive mold making industry in Canada. These highly skilled individuals should receive the nationally recognized Red Seal certification for their high competency and expertise, especially noting the high level of skills and training required for the field. Mold making is a field that requires a high level of skill, precision, knowledge, and training and should have the industry credibility that goes with Red Seal certification.
Red Seal Designation Request
- Identify the Need: The mold making industry is extremely important to the Canadian economy. The manufacturing sector contributes 10.6% of the Canadian GDP, and as noted, would not be possible without mold makers.
- Industry Consultation: As Canada’s leading industry association representing Canadian mold makers, CAMM has discussed the dire need to make mold making a Red Seal trade with many companies, employers, training institutions and potential employees. Attached are two letters of support.
- Example of National Occupational Analysis (NOA) for Mold Making:
National Occupational Analysis (NOA) for Mold Making
Job Description and Tasks:
Mold making is a specialized trade that involves designing, constructing, and maintaining molds used in various manufacturing processes. Mold makers work with a variety of materials, such as metals and plastics, to create precise molds that shape materials into specific forms. The tasks performed by mold makers may include:
Reading and interpreting technical drawings and blueprints.
Selecting appropriate materials for mold construction.
Operating computer-aided design (CAD) software to create mold designs.
Setting up and operating machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and CNC machines, to fabricate mold components.
Assembling and disassembling molds for production use.
Troubleshooting and repairing molds to ensure optimal performance.
Conducting quality control inspections to ensure the accuracy of mold dimensions.
Technical Knowledge and Skills:
Mold makers require a range of technical knowledge and skills to excel in their profession. These include:
Proficiency in mold design principles and techniques.
Knowledge of materials properties and their suitability for specific molding processes.
Competency in using CAD/CAM software for mold design and simulation.
Understanding of machining processes and precision tooling.
Familiarity with various mold types, such as injection molds, blow molds, and compression molds.
Knowledge of industry standards, codes, and safety regulations related to mold making.
Health and Safety Considerations:
Mold making involves working with machinery and potentially hazardous materials. Mold makers must adhere to strict health and safety protocols, including proper handling of tools, materials, and chemicals. They should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents and injuries.
Quality Control and Inspection:
Ensuring the precision and accuracy of molds is crucial for successful manufacturing processes. Mold makers are responsible for conducting quality control inspections to verify that the mold components meet specified tolerances and dimensions. They use precision measurement tools, such as calipers and micrometers, to assess the quality of mold parts.
Materials and Techniques:
Mold makers work with a wide range of materials, including various metals and plastics. They should have an in-depth understanding of material properties, such as hardness, thermal conductivity, and resistance to wear, to select the most suitable materials for specific applications. Mold makers employ a variety of techniques, such as machining, grinding, and EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining), to shape and finish mold components accurately.
Industry Regulations and Standards:
Mold making is subject to industry-specific regulations and standards to ensure the safety and quality of molded products. Mold makers should be familiar with these standards, including ISO 9001 for quality management systems and ISO 14001 for environmental management systems.
Continuous Learning and Adaptability:
The mold making industry evolves with advancements in technology and materials. Mold makers should stay updated with the latest industry trends, innovations, and best practices. Continuous learning and adaptability are essential to remain competitive in the field.
The National Occupational Analysis for mold making provides a comprehensive overview of the knowledge, skills, and tasks involved in this specialized trade. Mold makers play a critical role in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, electronics, and consumer goods, by producing high-quality molds that shape materials into precise forms. As a skilled trade, mold making contributes significantly to the manufacturing sector, supporting innovation and economic growth in Canada.
The evidence presented in this paper highlights the importance of mold making in Canada’s manufacturing sector and its significant impact on the country’s economy. By designating mold making as a Red Seal Trade, Canada can foster a skilled and mobile workforce, reinforce the industry’s credibility, and boost its global competitiveness. Recognizing mold making as a Red Seal Trade aligns with Canada’s vision for a prosperous and innovative manufacturing industry, ensuring a bright and sustainable future for the trade and the Canadian economy.