When Guardian Industries Corp. first bought Siegel-Robert Inc.'s auto unit in 2008, it focused on the company's abilities in plating plastic parts.
Now in the Detroit suburb of Taylor, the joint company SRG Global Inc. just opened its advanced development center specifically to bring new plating and coating technology on line and test it from the initial lab work to full-scale production capability.
Our reaction time from molding to testing will happen within a couple of days, said Dave Prater, SRG's vice president of product engineering and development, during a May 27 tour of the development center. This will significantly reduce the time in the development process.
SRG's center is unique, Prater said, because it marries molding and coating developments side-by-side. Coating companies developing new satin-chrome looks, for example, specialize in the post-molding operation, while molders do not typically have the ability for full-scale development of plating technologies.
While all new developments will still take time, the company believes it can trim that period by putting all the experience under one roof, allowing it to tweak everything from tooling to full-scale production quickly.
The company's four injection molding presses range in clamping force from 165 to 2,200 tons, allowing the company to do full-scale parts while the plating line will likewise handle full parts, including commercial truck exterior parts, said Silvain De Vreese, director of the advanced development center.
Having a dedicated development center also means the company does not have to take existing production off line to run new parts, he said. Beyond molding and plating, the company also can test out tools and get new high-volume parts dialed in and ready to go to the molding floor.
Chrome plating for injection molded parts has been used for years in the auto industry, especially for functional lighting parts and trim. Now automakers have been looking to both shiny and satin finishes on exterior trim to give cars and trucks a new look. Carmakers also want more ways to develop and place such finishes on a wider variety of parts, and to make them in lower volumes that will allow car companies to fine-tune the look of individual trim levels of different cars.
Warren, Mich.-based SRG, Prater said, has a global manufacturing footprint. It added expertise in plating with the purchase of Siegel-Robert and, with the development center, can take the business further.
The company can also make limited-run parts used on concept cars displayed at auto shows or shown off to the media, he said.
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