An Alexandria, Minn., custom injection molder has invested $360,000 on expanded services to cut lead times.
Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co., a specialist in short-run molding and secondary services, said it bought a new hot-plate welder, CNC grinder and an all-electric press and installed them in April.
“We do a lot of value-added steps,” said Donnelly President Ron Kirscht in a telephone inter-
view. “For the past year and a half we have been steadily growing. Industrial original equipment manufacturers were down in 2009 but late that year they started to pick up.”
The firm's sales grew 21 percent in 2010 and another 8 percent last year to reach $25.2 million in injection molding revenue. This year Kirscht predicts sales will exceed $30 million for the year ending Sept. 30.
The hot-plate welder allows a more durable and effective method for joining parts and eliminates the need for fastening hardware. The welder, supplied by Forward Technology of Cokato, Minn., was originally purchased to meet a specific customer's needs for a subassembly.
The computer numerically controlled grinder, from Jones & Shipman, gives Donnelly the ability to make more-complex-geometry parts in its in-house toolroom. Donnelly runs the toolroom for repairs and revisions.
The new injection press is a 390-ton SX-series Toshiba to replace an older 320-ton Mitsubishi hydraulic press. Kirscht said the firm regularly replaces presses to keep them up to date and gradually plans to go to an all-electric slate. Twenty-five of its 33 presses are all-electric. Kirscht prefers them because he claims they use less energy, are repeatable, less noisy and generate less heat.
“Electric presses are more straightforward and hold their process variables better,” he said. “We try to keep the age of the fleet under nine years.”
The firm also relies heavily on robotics to maintain repeatability and productivity.
Donnelly is a diverse molder but counts among its main markets fluid handling, business and banking equipment, industrial appliances, sensors and control and non-automotive transportation.
The firm mainly does short runs, usually changing molds 300 times a week. It stores about 2,800 active molds and processes more than 600 different materials, according to Kirscht.
Its other secondary services include part machining from six CNC machines at the injection presses, sonic welding, decorating, tool design, prototyping, painting, plating and assembly.
In total, Donnelly is budgeting $1.3 million in capital expenditures this year. The company was founded and is owned by Stan Donnelly. It employs 225, a fairly high number for its annual sales, but it needs that ratio to be nimble for rapid mold changeovers.