Solar Plastics Inc. will start the new year by opening a new rotational molding facility in Delano, Minn. This will be the company's fourth production plant. The 50,000-square-foot plant initially will house two large-capacity ovens that will allow the custom rotomolder to produce parts in excess of 12 feet in diameter or up to 15 feet in length, in response to customer demand.
``The demand has not slackened for custom-engineered rotationally molded product, and the forecast is strong,'' said President Charles Carlsen.
He declined to comment on the cost of the new plant.
Carlsen said the Delano site was chosen for its proximity to major customers and to the parent firm in Minneapolis, which will provide support services.
``We needed to expand and didn't have the room to do that at this facility,'' said Carlsen.
The larger equipment, purchased from Ferry Industries Inc. in Kent, Ohio, means that instead of running an offset arm to do large parts, Solar can run two molds, one on each side of the arm, Carlsen said.
Rotational molding's growth, Carlsen said, is because original equipment manufacturers today understand what plastics can do
for a product.
``They understand blow molding or injection molding,'' he said. Rotational molding ``gives them another process to look at in addition to those.''
Carlsen, a rotomolding industry veteran, also credits trade associations with helping get the word out about what plastics can do, and making rotomolding more visible. Carlson is one of 12 founders of the Association of Rotational Molders.
The Delano site has enough room to allow the plant to be expanded to 110,000 square feet if needed. Solar also operates plants in Davenport and Sioux City, Iowa, and employs 160 companywide. Solar has sales in excess of $20 million annually, and serves 18 major industries including agriculture, education and transportation.