EGC Corp. is expanding its menu of small, close-tolerance parts custom molded from fluoropolymers and other high-performance specialty plastics. The Houston firm added two new, 28-ton injection presses to mold the high-volume, precision parts, mainly for manufacturers of computers and business machines, electronic, medical and automotive products.
EGC does about $6.5 million in injection molding business annually, said Marce Gordon, market manager for injection molding. The firm houses that capacity in a 130,000-square-foot plant in Houston, where it also offers compression, transfer and isotactic molding; ram and melt extrusion; and computer numerically controlled machining of finished parts.
A smaller, satellite plant, in Shepherd, Texas, does compression molding and machining. EGC's compression molding capabilities range from 50-1,500 tons, according to company literature.
The entire EGC operation brings in sales of about $27 million a year, and employs about 350, Gordon said July 7 by telephone.
Injection molding is the Houston outfit's biggest business segment, he said. There, EGC runs 19 presses, with clamping forces of 28-720 tons; it added the 720-ton Toshiba last month, to mold larger parts. The new 28-tonners,
both Battenfelds, are equipped with Yushin robots, closed-loop capabilities and statistical process control, Gordon said. He would not disclose their cost. The machines, along with a 40-ton Nissei, will form a new work cell for small-part molding that can produce more than 10 million parts annually, according to an EGC news release.
The firm bought the smaller machines to injection mold components for a rechargeable battery, Gordon said. But it also is using them to make parts for an automotive customer - a brand-new market for EGC.
``We are looking for specialty niches in the automotive market, where some of our specialty materials will be applicable - the PEEKs, PTFE - small, close-tolerance parts that could be molded on these smaller machines,'' Gordon said.
EGC has been wanting to break into the automotive arena for some time. EGC spokeswoman Kerry O'Malley said the company is ``working diligently'' to gain a foothold in Detroit, and has hired a representative to parlay its injection molding capabilities into a share of the automotive market.
``We have made some contacts, and there is potential business coming up for us,'' she said.
Besides polyetheretherketone and polytetrafluoroethylene, the company works with polyphenylene sulfide, polyetherimide, polysulfone, polyvinylidene fluoride and other engineered thermoplastics.
Few injection molders in the United States are capable of shooting small parts in the resins, Gordon said. EGC has been processing them for 15-20 years, he said.
``The material really attacks the steel,'' requiring special screws and barrels and protective coatings on tooling, Gordon said.
Processing is fully automated, using hot runners to keep the material - which tends to freeze up - flowing.
The 26-year-old molder's specialty products include custom-made bearings, bushings and wear rings made with its carbon-fiber PEEK composites, XC-2 and Xytrex.
EGC's tooling facility offers mold maintenance and repair. Computer-aided part design capabilities include the latest versions of Pro-Engineering and AutoCad. The firm is ISO 9001 certified.
Its Paris-based parent, Compagnie Plastics Omnium SA, is a big player in fluoropolymer processing and injection molding in Europe, Gordon said. Omnium acquired EGC on Sept. 9 for an undisclosed sum.
The firm is part of Omnium's Performance Plastics Products division, with facilities worldwide. The other U.S. unit in the division is 3P Inc., also of Houston, which makes fluoropolymer-lined tanks and vessels, Puripipe fittings and tubing and Puripack containers for ultrapure chemical handling.