PCI opens third factory to house Engineering Resource Center

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 31, 2013 5:31 pm ET
Updated: October 31, 2013 7:52 pm ET

Image By: Plastics News file photo Tom Duffey

Related to this story

Topics Injection Molding, Rapid Prototyping, Molds/Tooling

Custom injection molder Plastic Components Inc. has invested $1.4 million to open its third factory at an industrial park in Germantown, Wis. — a 15,000-square foot building to make rapid prototype, single-cavity molds.

PCI's Engineering Resource Center opened in its own building on Oct. 10. The automated facility has designed and built some molds in as fast as two days, said PCI Vice President Ryan Duffey.

Working with customers, mold designers create the mold using Moldflow simulation software and a complete review of the part design. They decide on locations for gates and parting lines. They build in water lines. The data is fed into one of two programmable CNC machining centers, which can run automatically to cut the mold cavity, creating an insert that is put into a mold base. PCI tests the molds on injection presses.

PCI runs a highly automated custom molding plant at its headquarters building. Two years ago the company opened up a nearby molding factory to run lights-out, with no employees.

Now ERC gives PCI another service, helping customers do rapid prototyping, with steel molds that turn out actual, production-quality parts in the same resin as the final part. The single-cavity molds can be duplicated to make full-production multi-cavity molds, President Tom Duffey said.

Duffey said fast new product development is a permanent trend for U.S. manufacturers.

"We're trying to validate and substantiate that American manufacturing still can absolutely, positively compete in the global marketplace. And the rapid prototyping angle, I think, is a really important piece of that puzzle," Duffey said.

Ryan Duffey, Tom's son, spearheaded the Engineering Resource Center. Company leaders got the idea to get into rapid tooling in late 2012. PCI at first launched the ERC at the company's in-house mold repair shop.

Since Nov. 1, 2012, ERC has built 85 prototype tools, Ryan Duffey said. The company soon bought one machining center. "The response of the marketplace was incredible, and that machine was just running nonstop," he said.

So PCI officials realized they would need more space and more production capacity. They bought a second machining center and added people. Now, three full-time toolmakers are dedicated to the ERC, and the company wants to hire a fourth.

Before deciding to start the Engineering Resource Center, PCI surveyed its customers about their rapid prototyping needs. "About 65 percent of the customers we talked to said that new product development, and getting products to market more quickly, was an important strategic priority," Tom Duffey said.

Customers told PCI that they used outside rapid prototype houses, but only got sample parts, not finished parts in a specific resin that could be actively tested. That could box them into a corner and make it harder to make changes later.

With the ERC, Tom Duffey said: "They could have a lot of confidence that they parts that they hold in their hand would be same as parts from a production tool."

PCI can build production molds, but it still outsources most of its full-scale production tooling. The rapid mold-making work is a standalone business, not contingent on PCI providing the molds or doing the final molding, he said.

PCI gutted the building, a former warehouse, and upgraded electrical power to create the Engineering Resource Center. The company took possession of the building, which is located next door to the headquarters plant, on Oct. 10.

PCI's fully automated lights-out plant is around the corner in the same industrial park.

Meanwhile, PCI is adding to its stock of Toyo injection molding presses. Tom Duffey said the company's sales are up 19.2 percent so far this year, from $20 million in 2012. "Right now, October will be the biggest month in our history," he said.

PCI is adding two new Toyos with 400-tons of clamping force at the headquarters; the previous largest size press there are 300-tonners. Those larger machines will be installed in November and December. To free up space for the presses, PCI moved finished goods inventory over to the Engineering Resource Center.

At the lights-out plant, PCI is adding two new 90-ton Toyos and expanding its overhead mezzanine level that supports auxiliary equipment. The 90-ton presses join the original five 55-ton Toyos.


Comments

PCI opens third factory to house Engineering Resource Center

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 31, 2013 5:31 pm ET
Updated: October 31, 2013 7:52 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

How CEO Santi is changing ITW

April 23, 2014 2:48 pm ET

Scott Santi is showing he can do more than just cut costs at Illinois Tool Works Inc.    More

Image

China's mold making sector plodding forward

April 23, 2014 1:25 pm ET

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching new highs, China's similar indexes are still hovering at a low level. What does the economic barometer ...    More

Image

HRS adding more North American production for hot runners

April 22, 2014 12:57 pm ET

An Italian tooling component supplier is set to open a new production plant in Grand Rapids, Mich. The HRS Flow Division of San Polo di Piace-...    More

Image

German electronics firm expanding in Hungary

April 22, 2014 9:46 am ET

German electronics manufacturer Provertha GmbH has announced plans to set up a new plastic galvanizing plant at the Kapuvár Industrial Park, in...    More

Image

Cambro investing $30.4 million in new N.C. injection molding plant

April 18, 2014 2:36 pm ET

Foodservice products manufacturer Cambro Manufacturing Co. Inc. plans to set up a satellite production and distribution operation in Mebane, N.C., to ...    More

Market Reports

Market Data Book - Rankings & Lists

A one-stop download of Plastic News' exclusive annual lists and processor rankings containing essential data including sales, employees, end markets, materials and more.
EXCLUSIVE EXCEL FEATURE: full mailing address details for available plant locations.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Mold Making and Tooling Review and Outlook 2014 – North America

This report provides in-depth analysis of the mold and toolmaking market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats, the latest developments in production and labor and equipment trends impacting moldmakers.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events