PTI Engineered Plastics Inc. already had spent years helping companies develop and prototype new products. Now it has gone even further into development by adding industrial design to its existing lineup of operations in mold making and molding.
The Macomb, Mich.-based firm officially launched PTI Design at the beginning of this year and now has a team of six people creating new parts that take into consideration how the part will be made as well as how it will be used.
“We're under the same roof as the manufacturing facility, which gives us an advantage that at any time we can reach out and pull in any manufacturing or engineering expertise as we're working on a program,” said strategic planning director Jim Hayward.
The addition of industrial design was a natural outgrowth that allows the company to cover everything from “mind to manufacturing,” said CEO Mark Rathbone.
The design group, combined with manufacturing expertise, will allow PTI to ensure that concepts will make as much sense on the factory floor as in the design offices, Rathbone said. That combination also helps to cut development time, since there is less potential for the company to create a prototype that cannot be produced at the required price point.
“That's what keeps the program on track. You don't put a design together and then hand it to a toolmaker and see that it's not going to work,” Hayward said in a May 16 telephone interview. “Tooling has always been a core competency of PTI. There's a lot of expertise that can be put into how a tool is built to make parts.”
PTI Design has been working on medical, industrial and consumer products, working with existing customers as well as entrepreneurs.
“A lot of times, people will come to us with the start of design — a napkin sketch,” Hayward said. “We work with them from there to whatever it takes to take it to a manufacturable state.”
The company's existing expertise in medical molding has come into use as the design, tooling and manufacturing groups combine to help customers move into other industries, but PTI Design also works on programs that will not be produced within the firm or even in plastic.
“We might look at it and say, ‘This is not a plastic part,'” he said. However, the ultimate manufacturability of the part remains at the heart of the design process.