Many mold makers are scrambling to fill orders and SelfLube is expanding to supply components they need.
SelfLube is adding floor space and machinery to make precision mold and die components such as wear strips, bushings, pins and guide components. Its products comprise self-lubricated components with graphite as the lubricant and conventional components.
“Tool builders have limited resources and it works to have a reliable supplier of components,” SelfLube owner and CEO Phil Allor said in a phone interview.
Many mold builders had excess machine time during the mid- to late-2000s recession and they were able to use the spare capacity to make components inhouse. But in the past several years markets for plastic injection molds and other tools have strengthened, leaving many mold makers with no spare machining capacity.
“[Buying components] is a way to increase capacity,” Allor explained. Toolmakers can concentrate on high value-added work rather than low-value component production.
SelfLube will spend about $600,000 to add 13,000 square feet to its Coopersville, Mich., manufacturing operation, a project due for completion in September. The construction will increase floor space by about 50 percent and the company will install new computer numerically controlled machinery in it over several years.
SelfLube was founded by Allor in 1990 as a small business serving mold shops in west Michigan. It has since expanded tenfold and now makes more than 10,000 standard and semi-standard components for more than 1,000 customers in North America. The company is ISO 9001 certified and claims a record of 99 percent on-time shipping.