A closed-down structural foam molding plant has come alive again in western Ohio, as new investors have founded Liberty Molded Plastics LLC.
The investment group, headed by Wisconsin businessman Lynn Van Epps, has acquired the assets of the old Polycel Structural Foam Inc. plant in Liberty Center, Ohio - a 38,000-square-foot building on a 37-acre site, and five structural foam machines. Van Epps owns Freeland Industries Inc. in Portage, Wis., which makes feeding and watering troughs for hogs, cattle and horses.
Galvanized steel has been the traditional material of choice for the Freeland product line. Liberty Molded Plastics is making plastic troughs for Freeland, said William Goslin, general manager of the plastics plant.
The structural foam molding process is well-suited to making the troughs, which measure 4 feet long by 30 inches deep. ``These are like bathtubs,'' Goslin said.
But custom molding is a focus of Liberty Molded Plastics as well. The plant specializes in custom structural foam parts for short and medium-volume production. The company also offers a full range of secondary operations such as hot stamping, pad printing and subassembly.
The owners bought the factory in February. Production began about mid-year. Mold trials for the custom side began in October.
Liberty Molded Plastics runs five multinozzle, low-pressure structural foam presses - one with 180 tons of clamping force, one 300-tonner, two 350-ton machines and, the largest press, with 450 tons of clamping force that can run an 85-pound shot of plastic. Goslin said the largest machine corresponds to a regular 2,200-ton high-tonnage injection molding machine.
In the next several months, Liberty Molded Plastics plans to purchase a bigger press than can process a shot size of 150 pounds, Goslin said.
Polycel Structural Foam was formed in 1998, when two Somerville, N.J.-based molders, Polycel Corp. and Structural Foam Plastics Inc., combined to form a single company. The Liberty Center plant was one of the Structural Foam Plastics operations.
Polycel Structural Foam entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2000. The West Liberty plant had been closed for two years when the new owners bought it.
Goslin's previous management positions include posts at two Michigan companies, Troy Products and Plastics Research Corp. Keith Hammer, also from Plastics Research, is the engineering manager.
Liberty Molded Plastics, which employs 20, plans to earn ISO certification by the end of 2004.