Structural Foam Plastics Inc. continues to ramp up production at its newest facility in Kentucky and explore the potential of reduced cycle times with its patented TechFoam processes.
Opened in November 1996, the massive Winchester, Ky., facility employs 70 and has seven structural foam presses with clamping forces of 150-750 tons.
``We just got the seventh press up,'' Carl Rosania, sales and marketing manager, said in a telephone interview.
The site also has six injection molding presses, five of them Klockners, with clamping forces of 275-1,000 tons.
The company uses about 70 percent of the plant's 575,000 square feet for molding and warehousing. Seasonal workers help meet peak distribution demands.
Structural Foam reported sales of $39 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Structural foam processing accounted for about 74 percent of sales for fiscal 1997; injection molding, 19 percent; and mold making, 7 percent. Rosania expects sales of $40 million to $42 million for this fiscal year.
The firm was founded in 1967 in Somerville, N.J., with a strong product-design bent. Now, the 90,000-square-foot New Jersey site employs 170. It operates five structural foam presses from 100-400 tons, seven injection presses from 145-750 tons, and also does mold design and mold making.
A third location, which opened in Liberty Center, Ohio, in 1982, employs 70. The 40,000-square-foot plant has five structural foam presses — all Springfields — from 180-450 tons.
In Winchester, Structural Foam has a pilot program using processes patented in 1985 by the firm's vice president of manufacturing, Ernest Holdredge. His TechFoam patent covers both foam and injection molding processes and requires special nozzles.
The structural foam technique makes foam parts lighter, makes them more quickly and and helps in molding parts with very thick cross sections, according to Holdredge.
Cycle times are shorter, and part weights and material costs are lower.
The injection molding method is comparable to the gas-assist process and uses existing molds for products designed in conventional structural foam in all thicknesses, Holdredge said.
Minimal tool modification is needed, but cycle times drop about 35 percent and painting is eliminated. The technology recently cut one $18 part to $13, Rosania said. In time, the firm may begin using the processes at its other plants.
The Kentucky plant may upgrade its mold-making capabilities with computer numerically controlled equipment later this year, he added.
In 1992, Honda's plant in Marysville, Ohio, selected a Structural Foam design for custom molded materials-handling containers in six sizes. The firm continues to supply the structural foam containers to Honda.
Early last year the company began offering the containers as a proprietary line. It currently is seeking a marketing partner to expand container sales.