CHICAGO — Plastic gear producer ABA-PGT Inc. plans to grow its Connecticut headquarters to accommodate more molding work.
The size of the company's Manchester, Conn., facility will mushroom from 28,000 square feet now to about 65,000 square feet within eight months, said director of business development Mark Thompson.
Thompson, interviewed March 6 at the National Design Engineering Show & Conference in Chicago, said the expansion is needed to add manufacturing space.
"We have three work cells in storage now," Thompson said. "We're a gear company that molds parts. And we need the space."
The plastic gear market rapidly is capturing some of the business now held by steel, Thompson said. While representing only about 10 percent of the gear market, the number of plastic gears is growing about 1 percent a year, he said.
Demand for those gears — primarily made from nylon 6/6 or acetal — have led to the need for more production, he said.
The company has three 55-ton Roboshot all-electric machines and accompanying work cells in storage awaiting the completion of the expansion.
Another new, 110-ton Arburg horizontal and vertical press with a rotating platen recently was added for two-shot molding. That machine molds products combining nylon 6/6 with thermoplastic rubber.
The company is spending $3 million to $4 million on construction and equipment for the expansion, Thompson said.
ABA-PGT designs and engineers gears and gear-train components and makes molds and prototypes for those parts. It also operates an automated molding facility in nearby Vernon, Conn., where short-run parts are made.
The two plants together have 36 injection presses with clamping forces of 28-110 tons.
About 104 employees currently work at ABA-PGT, including 98 in Manchester. Because the firm is automating the new work cells, it expects to hire only a few employees once the expansion is complete.
The company expects to record about $16 million in sales for 2001.