Innovation and in-house design expertise can help a U.S. company win in a competition with China, an executive of Custom Plastics Inc. said during the National Design Engineering Show.
Lisa Totino, new business development director, outlined two new products during a Feb. 25 news conference at the Chicago show. Custom Plastics Inc., which does extrusion and injection molding in Elk Grove Village, Ill., is a sister company of Suncast Corp., a Batavia, Ill.-based company that makes storage products, garden sheds and hose reels.
One product for the garage market, the HandiWall, is an extruded cellular PVC wall system with a series of grooves and hooks for hanging tools and other items. It competes against pegboard. The customer, a local garage installation company, had been importing a similar product from China, but experienced problems with quality and color and was forced to buy large quantities with slow delivery times.
Since Custom Plastics does its own PVC compounding, exact color matching was no problem.
Custom Plastics is selling the HandiWall to other garage installers, and also through Suncast. Totino said consumers will be able to buy a retail version in a few months. The company also is targeting trade-show booths and point-of-purchase retail displays. The cellular PVC wall panels are very light to ship, she said.
The second product, a wide pencil drawer, is an injection molded, high-impact polystyrene product that goes under office desks to hold paper, scissors and rubber bands. To compete against plastic desk drawers from China, the company made the compartments deeper, added a lock and touted its ability to mold-in custom colors.
Custom Plastics employs 288 doing custom injection molding and extrusion and contract manufacturing. The company runs 19 extruders and 29 injection molding presses with clamping forces of 55-720 tons.
Totino said technology also helps in the global battle for work.
``If the process can be automated, I think American companies can compete,'' she said.