RJG Associates Inc. is getting into plastics injection molding, via installation of a new, 22-ton Cincinnati Milacron press at its Traverse City, Mich., facility. For 11 years, injection molders have relied on RJG's consulting and training expertise in outfitting their equipment with process controls.
Just last year the firm decided to turn that knowledge to in-house manufacturing, by starting a four-press metal injection molding operation.
RJG's plastics shop will mold small, high-tolerance parts, mainly overflow from its clients' operations or developmental work, said technical director Mike Groleau.
The Milacron press, delivered May 24, is the first of four plastics injection molding machines he hopes to have in place by year's end.
``We're focusing on the 100-ton-and-less range,'' he said, with the 22-ton machine covering the lower end.
All the machines will be equipped with sister firm RJG Technologies Inc.'s process controls and monitoring systems. One quality benefit to in-mold monitoring is being able to determine whether a part is defective, before the mold opens - such as whether it was short-shot, does not meet dimensional tolerances or contains voids due to underpacking, he said.
``We can tell whether a part is going to be defective before it comes out of the mold ... so we can automatically accept or reject [it],'' Groleau said.
Laurie Weeks will manage plastics production, initially with a crew of four. RJG currently is hiring those workers for around-the-clock operations, seven days a week, he said. Its first job is a plastic auto part for an undisclosed client.
In a year, the company should have at least six presses in place for plastics molding. That could require more room, since right now its metal and plastics operations share 2,500 square feet at the 10,000-square-foot Traverse City building that houses both RJG firms.
Once the plastics molding outfit ``gets rolling,'' Groleau said he expects ``pretty rapid growth,'' and the RJG sisters are evaluating expansion options.
According to Groleau, RJG Associates first saw an opportunity to get into molding with metal, since the niche did not compete with its main clients, who are captive and custom plastics molders. The metals business is a joint venture with Krupp Engineering Inc., which finishes the injected metal parts at its Dexter, Mich., plant.
RJG already has turned down plastics molding that could have conflicted with its consulting customers' interests, he said.
Mike's father, Rod Groleau, owns both RJG firms. RJG Associates currently employs 11.