Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures, a maker of compression molded enclosures for outdoor industrial electrical systems, just completed a $2 million upgrade to its Belding, Mich., facility, including expansion of its sheet molding compound production capacity and a new laboratory.
Stahlin, a division of Verona, Pa.-based Robroy Industries Inc., announced the expansion at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Alliance of Plastics Processors annual conference, held April 2-4 in Columbus.
Stahlin employs more than 100 at its 100,000-square-foot plant in Belding, where it is based.
The investment is part of Stahlin's ongoing fight to change the perception of plastic products in industrial electrical applications.
``The electrical enclosure industry is about 90 percent metallic,'' said Jeffrey Seagle, who took over as Stahlin's president in March. ``That's what we're up against. The perception is that if it's not metallic, it's not strong.''
Stahlin uses thermoset unsaturated polyester to compression mold its enclosures, which typically consist of 22-25 percent glass fiber, said Mike Jackson, product marketing manager.
However, Seagle said Stahlin expects to be a custom compression molder, one that can fill virtually any outdoor enclosure need. Thus far, the company has found the most success in areas with severe weather conditions, or in marine environments.
In North America, nonmetallic enclosures have only 10 percent market share, Seagle said. In every other part of the world, it's about 30 percent.
``We're arguing that 10 percent is way too low,'' he said. ``So we're going to educate the industry.''
Seagle believes the new plant enhancements will help the company achieve its goals.
``Through the new lab, we're going to be able to offer the market a plethora of options,'' he said. ``We want to change the mind-set out there.''