RIVERSIDE, CALIF. (April 21, 10 a.m. EDT) — Micromold Inc., a precision processor transitioning to new markets, has invested about $500,000 during several years for equipment, space and infrastructure improvements.
“A huge percentage of our [computer and electronics] work went to China in the matter of a year or so,” owner and President Robert Aust said in a recent office interview. Aust cofounded the business in 1979.
The outflow involved buttons, levers, gears and other small components. That computer and electronics work accounted for more than 80 percent of Micromold's 2001 business and represents about 10 percent now.
Micromold is moving toward more tools and disposables for the medical market.
The Riverside firm is ramping up to fulfill a large contract for insert molding medical-related work involving 80 similar but dimensionally different parts, said General Manager Ronald Peterson.
“This product came along at the right time, and the customer was happy in seeing what we could do” with small intricate parts and exotic materials, he said.
Many processors have difficulty with miniature parts and may refer a customer to Micromold for the specialized work, according to Micromold.
Micromold has 29 presses, with clamping forces of 4-30 tons. The equipment includes 24 Boy machines, four Dynacasts and one Newbury. Several have closed-loop microprocessor controls. A new 22-ton Boy with a vertical clamp and horizontal barrel arrived in December.
“We have added 11 machines in the last five years,” Peterson said.
During a plant tour, an operator used vacuum tweezers to position a gold-plated metal contact blade for insert molding in a liquid-crystal-polymer part for a high-end electronic component. The blade is 0.005 inch thick, 0.032 inch wide and three-sixteenths of an inch long.
Micromold also purchased measuring machines, computer systems and a server, bolstered quality control, upgraded air conditioning filtration and remodeled the office.
Quality-control devices include three video-display microscopes with magnification up to 240 times, a Seebrez touch probe, an automated Smart Scope and numerous Mantis visual inspection systems.
The firm achieved ISO 9002 certification in 1999; added 5,000 square feet, bringing the facility to 11,680 square feet; and established an in-house toolroom to repair, maintain and manufacture molds.
“In micromolding, it is more of tweaking of the tool vs. tweaking of the process” and using tools with low cavitation, Peterson said.
Micromold hired longtime supplier Jerry Sinclair in January and acquired some equipment Sinclair had used for many years as the sole proprietor of the Windwest contract mold-making shop in Brea, Calif.
Micromold had 2002 sales of $1.5 million. Employment fell from a high of 49 to as low as 10 but, with the new work, the company hopes to hire four people in April and 10 in June.