Stoesser Industries Inc. has reshaped its tooling operations through a partnership with a northern California mold builder.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based injection molder has formed a new company, Stargate Technologies LLC, with Aaron Smith, former president of Garon Mold of Santa Clara, Calif. The joint venture, which began in May, was announced Nov. 24.
Both Stoesser and Smith — 50-50 partners in Stargate — have invested $2 million to $3 million to begin the venture. Smith will serve as Stargate's president.
Stoesser has shifted its tooling area, which accounts for about 20 percent of the firm's business, to Stargate's Santa Clara site, formerly occupied by Garon Mold.
Garon Mold's operations, and its 15 employees, have been folded into Stargate, which will make precision molds for Stoesser products. The firm will specialize in using one software platform to take a new product concept from design to production mold.
``The biggest part of this [joint venture] is the ability to manage an entire project from the same software,'' Smith said. ``We now can design a product, make a prototype tool, build a production tool and make the part from one software package. That will let us control everything from start to finish.''
The venture eventually will double Stoesser's tooling capacity, said President Robert Stoesser. The Santa Clara plant, which will employ 30, either will be expanded or moved to another site.
Being considered for the expansion is a 40,000-square-foot plant that Stoesser plans to build next to its Mountain View plant. The company plans to break ground on that facility in six to eight months, Stoesser said.
The new company begins operations with 13 computer-aided design and manufacturing workstations, which include five new Pro/Engineer software packages. Prototype parts also can be produced using stereolithography and selective laser sintering techniques.
In addition, Stargate has six computer numerically controlled wire electric discharge machines, five CNC sinker EDMs and seven CNC machining centers. The automated, robotically driven machines operate around the clock six days a week.
For now Stargate will operate from Garon Mold's former 5,200-square-foot facility. Garon, a 6-year-old company, and Stoesser both have specialized in molds for the medical, telecommunications and computer industries.
The operation will be marketed as part of Stoesser, which operates from an 80,000-square-foot molding plant in northern California. The 135-employee company makes cellular phone housings, pagers and medical disposable and testing products.
The venture was fueled by the desire of the family-owned business to increase both its tooling and molding capacity, Stoesser said. Before the venture started, Stoesser had six employees building molds in-house and had contracted out the rest of its tooling work, he said.
With space freed at its plant by moving tooling operations off-site, the company plans to buy new equipment next year and expand its pad-printing and ultrasonic welding areas.
In addition, the firm plans to launch thin-wall molding within a few months and coinjection molding within a year, Stoesser said.
Currently, the molder has 30 injection presses, with clamping forces of 50-500 tons. The company also performs part assembly, decorating and testing. Stoesser claims Stargate is the only tooling company in northern California, and one of the few nationwide, to make molds completely from a software platform.
``We wanted to take advantage of short time frames to give our customers something not available right now,'' Stoesser said. ``Garon brought a tremendous amount of technical and professional expertise to the table.''
By using three-dimensional software, the firm plans to conduct concurrent engineering to make a prototype or production mold at the same time that it is designing a part, Smith said. He predicted a 15-25 percent reduction in lead times compared with nonsoftware mold-building methods.
Stoesser would not disclose the company's annual sales.