Partnering with suppliers of machinery and other technologies is critical for Dymotek Corp., a small custom injection molder that has invested in automated work cells and multicomponent molding.
It's very important to associate with class organizations and people, said Normand Forest, Dymotek executive vice president and general manager.
Forest outlined the molder's strategic focus on technology during a Nov. 5 open house at injection press maker Arburg Inc.'s Newington headquarters. About 75 Arburg customers attended the event.
Attendees also toured Dymotek's plant in nearby Ellington, Conn.
Forest said investing in technology has helped differentiate Dymotek from its competitors. Other speakers at the Arburg open house Martin Neff, Arburg product engineering manager, and Jon Newsome, regional manager at RJG Inc. also stressed technology as a way to reduce overall costs and become more efficient.
Dymotek launched its technology push in 2003, after the company sold its main proprietary product, Forest said.
The molder was founded in 1992 by the Trueb brothers Steve, a toolmaker, and Tom, a licensed plumber. Both contributed skills into their original product: a covering for pipe that protects people in wheelchairs from accidentally burning their legs on hot-water lines under the sinks in public restrooms. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated the products.
The brothers set up a company called Truebro, developed the product and began molding it, capturing a dominant market share, Forest said. Truebro sold the lavatory guard line in 2003, and continues to mold it for the new owner, under an exclusive agreement. Truebro changed its name to Dymotek and overnight moved from proprietary molder to custom molder.
Forest said consultants created eight guiding strategies for the company, including become experts in our customer's business, seek out best technologies and use the world as our resource.
Company officials decided to create a dedicated automated cell for the high-volume protective plumbing line. Two Arburg injection presses feed two six-axis ABB robots, which are set up between the presses, equipped with RJG monitoring systems.
Each robot removes the long, flexible part, then works quickly to install fasteners that allow snap-fit installation around pipes. The parts move down a conveyor to an operator, who checks them and puts them in a box, ready for shipping.
Forest said Dymotek officials started going to Arburg GmbH + Co. KG's Technology Days event, held in Lossburg, Germany. They also linked up with Elmet Elastomere GmbH, the Austrian maker of silicone dosing equipment and molds.
Dymotek was helping a customer develop a new pump for a commercial coffee syrup machine. The part must dispense a precise amount of liquid. The result: An Arburg Alldrive with 220 tons of clamping force, linked to an Elmet system, molds a single part combining Ultem polyetherimide with an overmolding of liquid silicone rubber.
But the customer was doubtful. First of all, we said that we could do this in a two-shot application, Forest said. There was so much skepticism with the customer that we actually flew their engineering team to Arburg at the Technology Days a few years ago, just to show them that the capability exists it's real.
During the plant tour, Dymotek showed off two other applications:
* A valve for a septic system in multistory commercial buildings that opens and closes to allow in air, but keeps sewer gases from coming out. Dymotek molds the ABS valve on a 176-ton Alldrive, plus a silicone gasket. The company ships the valve around the world.
* A two-component switch that the company insert molded, originally. As volumes increased, Dymotek went to two-shot molding with a polycarbonate housing and a thermoplastic polyur- ethane push-button.
Arburg's Neff cited multicomponent molding, in-mold assembly, tight controls and the integration of upstream and down- stream equipment as ways molders can cut costs by reducing the number of processing steps, as well as improving quality.
At the Arburg open house, Neff passed around a tiny planetary gear assembled inside a mold. Another part, a multishot toothbrush, is made on a press with four injection units each a different color, eliminating the need for color changes.
Newsome, of Traverse City, Mich.-based RJG, said mold-cavity pressure sensors can recognize if a part is good or bad before the mold opens. By monitoring what the plastic is doing, we can tell if the plastic behaves or misbehaves, he said.
Citing common problems like short shots, flash and viscosity variations, Newsome said the idea of containment finding and removing bad parts before they get shipped is becoming outdated.
Pretty much everyone in this room has customers who are demanding zero PPM and are making you jump through hoops if you fail, he said. You can't manually sort your way to be a world-class molder.
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