Jurassic Parts

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In the run up to Christmas, toy producer Geobra Brandstätter, best known for its premium brand Playmobil, offered a new addition to its animal range – the prehistoric Brachiosaurus.

Precision toolmaker and moulding experts, Hans Möderer Werkzeug – & Formenbau GmbH, based in Franconian Leinburg-Diepersdorf were given the task of helping bring the animal back to life. Originally formed in 1937 as a subcontract manufacturer, the family business has developed a reputation as design and moulding experts for various industry sectors such as automotive, toys, cosmetics and hygiene.

Dynamic cross section of the 3D Brachiosaurus mould designed using VISI

“The Brachiosaurus form is not exceptionally challenging,” claims Norbet Neubauer, Möderer’s managing director. “The challenge was the extremely limited timeframe. We only had six weeks to bring the animal back to life and such tight schedules are rarely expected for such a mould.” Geobra Brandstätter provided model data with a description of how the parts should look, including the relevant surface finish. Based on this information, the design engineers used VISI to develop a single mould tool to produce the head, neck and lower jaw of the Brachiosaurus.

The benefits of an integrated CAD/CAM system were evident during the recent project, in which the VISI software was used from the very beginning. “Even during the quoting stage we fully utilise our VISI workstations,” explains Norbet Neubauer.


The Playmobil Brachiosaurus. The real life dinosaur on which this toy was based was a vegeratian so don’t have nightmares

“Our engineers produce a mock assembly and use the model analysis and part splitting tools to ensure we provide the most accurate costing and have the confidence our tooling will work.

“Once the construction process is approved, we order material and begin electrode construction and NC programming. At this point we determine how many engineers will be assigned to each project. If necessary, one engineer will program the electrodes and one will work with the mould inserts. There are no longer any issues with data transfer and the integrated product environment allows anyone from the shopfloor or drawing office to extract the information they require. We have streamlined our entire design process and the manufacturing time required for a typical mould has been reduced to two or three weeks.”

Möderer has been using VISI since 1999 and at a time when only grinding was performed internally – all other manufacturing activities were out sourced.

Since 2001, the entire design and manufacturing process has been brought back in house with multiple stations of VISI Modelling, VISI Machining and VISI Wire all being used. In 2005, HSC grinding was introduced and the recent addition of an Ingersoll OPS550 5-axis machine has reduced man-power, improved surface finish and ultimately reduced mould costs. Additionally, the 5-axis machine can also be used for 3-axis grinding.

In addition to new machinery, the production of electrodes has been converted from copper to graphite, thereby reducing the grinding time by 40 to 50 percent.


3D mould showing the head, neck and lower jaw of the Brachiosaurus in VISI

Norbet Neubauer explains the reasons why it is so important to stay ahead of the competition, “Our entire mould production is reliant on cutting edge technology, whether it be software or hardware. State of the art today can no longer be compared to state of the art from one year ago – not to mention state of the art five or ten years ago.”

In addition to mould production, VISI is also used intensively for Möderer’s other line of work – subcontract manufacturing. Historically, single units were produced manually and all changes and communications were forwarded in paper format.

Since the introduction of VISI, productivity has increased and the error rate has been significantly reduced as everything is done on a common 3D basis.

The Franconian company guarantees the same level of quality they expect from their suppliers and this ethos has seen sales nearly double over the last five years.

The collaboration between Möderer and MECADAT GmbH, the German distributor of VISI has been very instrumental in our success explains Norbet Neubauer. “It is very important to know we have the support and commitment from a key supplier, we are very satisfied with the co-operation. The hotline is readily available and if there are any questions, they are handled promptly. VISI is undoubtedly the right solution for us.”

It is, therefore not surprising that Hans Möderer Werkzeug – & Formenbau GmbH has never regretted the switch to 3D tool design.


Playmobil defeats the deadline monster with VISI software

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