LEOMINSTER, MASS. — Cos-Tech Plastics Inc., a Leominster custom molder, believes in robots. Seventeen of Cos-Tech's 21 injection molding machines have robots, said James Costa. He said robots still are alien to many small molders.
``The typical custom molder has the mind-set of not being able to justify the capital expenditure,'' he said.
Costa got his taste for robotics while working as general manager at Nypro Inc. in Clinton, Mass. He left Nypro to become a vice president with Leominster molder E.B. Kingman Co.
Costa said a company does not have to be Nypro-sized to use automation. Cos-Tech has a full-time automation engineer, and builds its own end-of-arm tooling.
``Not all the benefits [of robots] are as clear, in black and white, but they're there,'' he said in an interview at the plant.
Benefits include more-consistent part quality and a reduction in mold damage. Sensors on the robot can stop the cycle if the robot has not grabbed the part — meaning it still could be in the mold and cause damage if the mold closes again.
Robots also free up machine operators for activities other than parts removal.
``We do a lot of secondary assembly operations, but we don't have an `assembly department.' We do secondary operations at the press,'' Costa said.
Cos-Tech uses robots from several companies, including Automated Assemblies Corp. of Clinton, Mass., and Yushin American Inc. of Cranston, R.I.
Costa founded Cos-Tech in 1991. In 1994, the company moved to a bigger plant in Leominster.
Costa said the firm reached $5 million in sales with no formal marketing effort. A marketing program began this year, and Costa said 1996 sales will be about $8 million. He predicts $10 million in sales in 1997.
The company plans to set up a research and development center next year.
Markets Cos-Tech serves include pharmaceutical, industrial, automotive, consumer, cosmetic, computer accessory and infant care products.