Accurate Molded Plastics Inc. added a 500-ton Battenfeld injection molding press in April and plans to begin using two new Ranger Automation Systems Inc. robots in May.
The Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, firm in late April plans to increase its molding schedule to seven days a week from five, to accommodate new projects.
``Driving the schedule increase are two major medical equipment projects with multiple parts, an exercise equipment project with two-step overmolding and a residential/commercial construction project,'' said Jeff Pochop, president and chief executive officer.
In January, the company purchased a Charmilles Roboform 55 die-sinker electrical discharge machine.
``This allows us to increase our output per toolmaker by achieving better work flow,'' he said.
Pochop contrasts Accurate's success with numerous consolidations and closings in the Pacific Northwest injection molding community, and credits customer service.
``We have found that backlogs have disappeared since Sept. 11,'' he said by telephone. ``We have short lead times and are being asked to respond quickly. With all the uncertainties, our customers have pulled in their horns.''
The company uses thermoplastic engineering resins to mold close-tolerance parts mostly for specialty medical, electronic and aerospace applications. A ShotScope process-monitoring system is in place.
The injection molding business unit now operates 19 presses of 28-739 tons including 12 Battenfelds, and the tooling department has use of six EDMs and 18 milling machines. In recent years, AMP has replaced and upgraded its injection molding machines and tooling equipment largely using funds from industrial revenue bonds issued by Kootenai County in 1998.
With strong medical equipment and aerospace orders, Accurate held its own during 2001 despite decreased business activity and uncertainties. Sales to a telecommunications company dropped 95 percent from an annualized run rate of more than $1 million during 2000's fourth quarter, to about $50,000 in 2001's fourth quarter.
A Bauer gas-assist molding system is helping the company achieve efficiency and aesthetic goals. Other operations involve threaded insert installation, sonic welding, mechanical and adhesive assembly, bulk packaging and drop shipment.
Accurate occupies 45,000 square feet in Coeur d'Alene and maintains a corporate office in Bellevue, Wash. The firm employs 108, including 82 in molding operations and 16 in toolmaking.