Custom injection molder Fabrik Molded Plastics Inc. is finding new ways to use every bit of space that it has. The company has developed in the last three months a 4,000-square-foot area devoted exclusively to automation development and it also is in the process of adding seven all-electric Arburg molding machines.
“We have to make sure we utilized each square foot in the best way,” President Keith Wagner said in a telephone interview.
He said the company has experienced strong growth in recent years, especially in the automotive and consumer lighting sectors. Among the items it makes are clear and reflective LED lenses.
Wagner said Fabrik expects about $34 million in sales this year and that automotive has grown to about 50 percent of its business. The firm also does work for medical, consumer, industrial and electronic applications.
He noted that about 50 percent of Fabrik's work is exported, primarily to Mexico, and that to meet demand the firm has had to boost production capabilities carefully at its current 120,000-square-foot facility.
Wagner said the company knocked down some office space to create the automation department within the facility, and that it can handle “anything from the end of the arm to a full-blown parts and assembly.”
A separate department to handle automation gives the company an edge in quoting projects, Wagner said.
“We can go from concept to fully integrated automation and cells,” he said.
To increase manufacturing space, Fabrik has had to build-in piping and boost its electrical capacity in areas that had been warehouse or office space, he said.
“We're growing within our walls and we're putting machines where they've never been,” Wagner said.
Fabrik has started adding seven all-electric injection molding machines over a seven-month time frame. A few are arriving in late August, with the final press to be installed in late September. They range in clamping force sizes from 100-350 tons. Some are replacing older machines.
The new equipment is in an area that can accommodate about 10 machines.
However, Wagner said the machinery area is filling up and he is considering expansion alternatives, including a second plant closer to some of its customers. Overall, Fabrik employs 300 and when the new machines are installed it will have 68 presses, ranging up to 600 tons. Last year, it installed a 310-ton Engel press that can handle 60-plus cavities for its closure business. Most of its presses are Engel.
Fabrik was founded by Seth Wagner in 1980 and he continues to retain ownership of the company run by his son.
The company also is concerned about finding trained workers. Wagner said that Fabrik has worked with four interns in the past couple of years from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and it is looking at further developing programs with other local schools and universities.