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General Plastics expands in Milwaukee

By: Michael Lauzon

February 27, 2013

MILWAUKEE -- Thermoformer General Plastics Inc. is expanding its Milwaukee plant to meet growing demand and to improve technology.

"Since the 2009 recession, we have seen steady growth for all the markets we participate in," General Plastics owner and President Robert Porsche said in a telephone interview. "We serve a diverse spread of markets, from transportation to point-of-purchase."

General Plastics is investing more than $1 million to add two thermoforming machines. One is a 6-foot by 10-foot three station vacuum former from Maac Machinery Corp. of Carol Stream, Ill. The other is a similar-sized Maac three-station pressure former for heavier-duty jobs.

One of the machines has just begun operating; the other will be delivered by summer, according to Porsche.

He did not disclose the number of thermoforming lines General Plastics is currently using in Milwaukee.

The pressure forming machine will allow General Plastics to make parts with greater detail, such as medical equipment components.

The company buys custom-made sheet made of various materials, including flame-retardant ABS, polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyethylene.

"As new technologies and innovations become available, it's in our best interest to leverage these advances for the benefit of our customers," Porsche said.

The company has, for example, placed more emphasis on energy conservation.

"As the cost of energy goes up dramatically, we need more-efficient ovens and controls," Porsche said from the firm's Milwaukee headquarters. "Zoning of energy is more important."

Because General Plastics has focused on energy issues, the unit cost of its power consumption has been lowered, according to Porsche.

The company purchased the two new thermoforming machines from Stopol/Plastics Machinery Group of Solon, Ohio, which has had a longtime partnership with Maac.

"General Plastics is incredibly disciplined in terms of regularly trading in its equipment every seven to 10 years to maximize the value of machinery and keep up with the latest technological advances," Stopol/PMG President Donald Kruschke said in a news release.

Founded in 1987, General Plastics employs about 70. Sales last year were about $10.1 million.

Its equipment capabilities include computer numerically controlled and robotic trimming, rotary and single-station forming and CNC routing.

It also offers prototyping, decoration, adhesive bonding, just-in-time delivery, assembly and fulfillment services.