A Brampton, Ontario, thermoformer of plastics packaging is adding heavy-gauge forming to its bill. Since the late 1980s, Shepherd Thermoforming & Packaging Inc. has been manufacturing thin-gauge plastic packaging in Brampton. But this month sister firm Shepherd Plastics Inc. entered the heavy-gauge arena, doing small-run jobs on a British-made Formech machine, which Barry Shepherd, who heads up both companies, described as a stationary sheet-fed vacuum former.
``We bought it because it has some features on it that will allow us to experiment with heavy-gauge forming,'' said Shepherd, president and chief executive officer.
The Formech unit has a 54-inch-by-26-inch part capacity, though the company intends to get a much bigger former - at least 4-foot-by-8-foot - next year, as soon as it lands more space, he said by telephone Oct. 22. Right now the Formech machine and its operator have their own corner of the leased, 9,000-square-foot plant in Brampton, where space is tight and the lease expires next year.
The owners are in the process of deciding such issues as whether the two companies should stay together or have their own space, and whether to build or buy another plant.
Last week the Formech machine was busy on an ABS display for the Christmas season, he said. But the company, which has hired a sales representative, is looking at other heavy-gauge markets, including construction products and hospital equipment, he said.
It paid just $50,000 for the Formech equipment, which was on a New York dock headed back to Twyford, England, after a stint at a plastics trade show where Shepherd snapped it up.
The thin-gauge outfit is equipped with three Armacs, which cost about $300,000 apiece, Shepherd said. That company does PET, PVC and high-impact polystyrene blister packs, two-piece and hinged clamshells, trays and other thin-gauge packaging for a variety of markets, including electrical/electronics and consumer products.
Thin-gauge sales this year will approach C$3 million (US$2.23 million), he said. It employs about 23.
Shepherd and his family - which includes sons Todd, vice president, and Mark, head of finance - have been eyeing the heavy-gauge market for some time. They own 100 percent of Shepherd Plastics; Shepherd Thermoforming is majority owned by the Shepherds and 30 percent owned by a silent partner.