Poised to re-enter the medical market, Precision Molded Plastics Inc. is upgrading with a pair of robot-equipped electrics, and has plans to install a modular Class 100,000 clean room this year.
“We are starting to move back into the medical-device market,” said President and CEO David VanVoorhis.
By late January, the Upland, Calif.-based injection molder will begin operating two new Toyo all-electric 55-ton horizontal presses in Upland. Each injection press is equipped with a Yushin HOP five 550x robot and GII-type controller. The electric presses are replacing hydraulic units.
“These new Toyos have the complex process capability to help us to maintain the extremely close-tolerance requirements our customers require,” VanVoorhis said.
Once those changes are in place, Precision will have a total of 18 injection molding machines — three electrics and 15 hydraulics — with clamping forces of 16-310 tons.
The firm's 2011 annual sales, at $2.6 million, are up about 12 percent from 2010. Currently, about 25 percent of Precision's business involves plastic grommets and other hardware for computer cables, but VanVoorhis wants more market diversity.
Medical work accounted for about 40 percent of the firm's sales annually from 1985-2000 but now it represents only about 10 percent, mostly short-run jobs. “We dropped out of that market” [after losing] “a couple of big medical product lines,” VanVoorhis said.
About 18 percent of Precision's current business is in commercial building products — including proprietary molded plastic corners for window-screen products — and industrial, electronic, irrigation and aerospace-defense products make up about 10 percent each.
VanVoorhis father, Ted, now 73 and retired, established the business in 1979 in an arrangement with Upland mold maker Roberts Tool & Die Co.
The founder “provided product and mold design assistance, along with free mold testing in exchange for a 15- by 18-foot corner of the shop to place a pair of new Boy 15S injection molding machines and their associated support equipment,” his son recalled. “In less than two years, demand outpaced capacity requiring the procurement of two more Boys, forcing and financing our first move into a larger building of our own.”
Precision took up residence in the same industrial park as Roberts Tool, and gained a reputation as a specialist molding ultrasmall plastic parts.
David VanVoorhis was involved at Precision in his youth, but he opted to study engineering at California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, Calif. He worked elsewhere for a dozen years prior to joining Precision Molded Plastics in 2002. He acquired the business from his parents in 2006.
Still in the same industrial park, Precision rents 26,000 square feet in four tightly organized contiguous units.
“I have concentrated on growing as much as I can” within the footprint, VanVoorhis said. “We have been doing lean [manufacturing], 5S [workplace organization] and Six Sigma [quality control] programs. With ongoing growth, we may need to explore site alternatives in a few years.”
Precision's 15 employees “are doing more with the same” resources, said VanVoorhis, who scored a 15 percent reduction in labor costs during 2011.
In December 2010, Precision added a 60-ton electric press from Korean equipment firm Woojin Selex Co. Ltd. “We have three Woojin presses on the floor now,” with hydraulics powering the other two, he said.
VanVoorhis said he expects to acquire two more Toyo electrics during the latter part of 2012.