Case Studies

Dryer Wheel

PEEK or Torlon Could Be The Answer To Your Wear Problem!

A number of years ago a large company came to us because their wheel was the number one warranty claim in the entire company’s product line.

The big problem they had was with the oil impregnated sintered bronze bushing which leaked oil and made terrible noise.  The other problem was with the rubber on the outer edge which took a compression set from sitting in their warehouse.  When the owner would use the product for the first time a rumbling noise would come from the unit because the wheel was no longer round.

We were told that the part had to survive a 1500 hour life test.  Our solution was to replace the bronze bushing with a high performance wear grade material.  We also used the same grade of rubber as the original wheel on the outer part of the wheel, but used less of it and reinforced it with the spoke material between the bushing and rubber.

The result?  Our polymer bushing showed no wear after the life test and our rubber design did not compress. We were told by the project engineer that no bushing, including the current production one, has ever passed the life test.  This metal to plastic conversion of the bushing and the redesigned rubber part would save the company millions of dollars per year in warranty claims.

 

International Plastics specializes in the molding of all grades of PEEK and Torlon.  There are many new wear grades of PEEK and Torlon just now available.

Contact International Plastics today to discuss enhancing the wear performance of your product.

tooling

Would Your Current Molder Do This?

A customer just came to us needing prototype parts immediately to close a deal.  The only problem was that the molded part is made out of a niche material not offered by ProtoMold.

International Plastic’s solution was to build a prototype mold with in 7 days to get over 1,000 parts to our client to finalize the deal with their customer.  Most molders would see this as an opportunity to take advantage of the customer with an expensive mold price, expedite fee, or outrageous part price.  Here at International Plastics, we just charged a modest engineering fee and provided the parts at full production price.

The result?  Our customer was able to get the contract from their client and International Plastics is molding a couple million of these parts per year for well under their target price.

Here at International Plastics we go above and beyond what most molders would do to assist our clients.

 

 

 

parts converted to plastic

Converting machined parts to molded parts

Millions of plastic components are machined.  If the annual volume is high enough, converting it to a molded part could be of advantage.  With machining, you pay for the full rod or sheet, and then machine a fair amount of the plastic onto the floor as waste.  Extruded sheet and rod is usually more expensive per pound than injection molded pellets.  For example, if molded pellets are $5.00/lb. extruded rod of the same material will cost around $10.00/lb.  Then, you have the cost of machining on top.

 

Machined components don’t just have to be plastic to become a molded part.  Many parts International Plastics produces were originally machined metal parts.  Be it brass bushings, aluminum, zinc castings, machined brass, many of these components can become molded parts, saving you money.  Polymers such as PEEK, Torlon, Radel, Ultem, and the special filler systems that can go into polymers these days can give your components better properties, lower cost, and longer use life.

Contact International Plastics, LLC today to discuss with our engineers converting your component to a molded part.

 

What is Lean Manufacturing?

One of the latest fads in business is “LEAN” everything. Most often the concept of lean gets implemented in the United States simply by having fewer people doing more work. It is a shame that this very powerful tool has been misunderstood and misused by so many American companies. This is reminiscent of the Just- In Time craze a decade ago. The Japanese created JIT as a robust manufacturing philosophy that reduced inventory,improved quality and substantially reduced risk through out the supply chain. US manufacturers only saw a slick delivery system that simply put the burden of the inventory onto the supply chain.

If American manufacturers looked at ‘Lean’ from a different perspective, and thought outside of the box they would find a whole new world with greater capacity, more throughput, reduced costs, better quality and compete with the Chinese head to head. Unfortunately, monthly and quarterly statements or what the “analysts” might think , get in the way all too often.

In the plastics molding world, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) keeps statistics on the industry. Boiling down their volumes of data you can get a look at what lean can be. They indicate that a molder with more than 6 employees per machine is probably not doing very well. A molder with 4 to 5 employees per molding machine is doing OK, and any molder with less than 4 employees per machine should be doing just fine.

How does a molder go from more than 6 employees to 4 or less per machine? The MBA way is just down size and start laying off skilled (expensive) personnel. The correct way would be to add sales and automation without adding more people, and extensively train the workforce in new methods.

The Japanese have embraced a technology they call “lights out” for nearly 30 years. By running multiple shifts with only the day shift manned and the off shifts unmanned your operations become”Lights Out” This is the ultimate in LEAN, but you have to really think outside the mainstream to make this work.

International Plastics is a “lights-out molder”. While the rest of the molding world struggles to get down to 4 employees per machine (Excluding Administration), International Plastics operates 2.2 machines per employee (Including Administration). While computers, robots and automation large and small dominate the manufacturing space, employees find meaningful not menial work.

It’s time for American molders to stop whining about China and start thinking lean. Lean does not mean down size, go brain dead, or roll over for China, India or whoever is the cheap labor of the day – it means grow, expand, be creative, try new methods and automate everything you can, and attack the market. The Chinese have only 1 advantage – cheap labor, if you make your product with little or no direct labor you just beat them at their own game. Remember their standard of living is going up- so will their wages. In ten years their labor cost will be on par with the rest of the Pacific Rim, and you will have an even greater advantage from automation. Jack Welch of GE fame said it best more than a decade ago, “You have 3 choices, Automate, Emigrate, or Evaporate.”

International Plastics has been a leader in lights out molding technology for nearly 18 years – we have chosen to automate.