CHICAGO — PTI Engineered Plastics Inc. will open a second plant this summer in its home state of Michigan and is developing molding technology that will be the focus of a third plant slated to open there by 2000, according to PTI owner Mark Rathbone.
Rathbone, also chief executive officer of the Clinton Township-based firm, near Mount Clemens, expects production at the new, 44,000-square-foot plant in nearby Shelby Township to be under way July 1 with eight injection molding presses. PTI will spend about $1.5 million on six new presses of 90-270 tons and supporting equipment, and will relocate two molding machines from its plant in Clinton, he said.
The firm will lease the $2.5 million building in Shelby, with a five-year option to buy it, he said.
By January 1999, the Shelby plant will be packing 12 presses and employ about 75, Rathbone said. It is designed to hold 20 presses total.
The 14-year-old firm has chiseled its niche from companies with full-service needs, from prototyping through production, in engineering plastics, PTI sales representative Bruce Miles said at the National Design Engineering Show, held March 16-19 in Chicago. In November it became certified in both QS 9000 and ISO 9002.
Rathbone forecasts sales of about $20 million this year, two-thirds from molding and one-third from tooling.
When the new plant opens, Clinton, which employs about 145, will become a low-volume molding outfit with 20 presses; it will maintain its aluminum toolmaking capabilities. Shelby will focus on high-volume work and by year-end offer painting and laser etching, new in-house processes for PTI, Rathbone said. Together the plants will cover runs of 50,000 to 3 million parts.
Both plants will serve Tier 1 automotive suppliers — which make up nearly 50 percent of PTI's sales — molding such products as dashboard components, electronic and mechanical switches, bezels and housings. Lower-volume work includes an on-off switch for a passenger air bag, an application that soon will be replaced by smart technology — a pressure sensor in the seat that will sense a passenger's weight before deciding whether to deploy the bag, he said.
The new Shelby plant also will begin research and development on microcell molding, technology that will be the hallmark of a third, 32-press plant Rathbone wants to build within a five-mile radius of its other sites in the next 11/2 to two years. He described the microcell process as small injection molding machines making very small, high-tolerance parts, primarily for the auto market.
The firm also does insert molding. Its other major markets are consumer goods appliances and medical equipment, and some electronic appliance applications, like switches for dishwashers.