Evco Plastics Inc., a family-owned injection molder based in DeForest, Wis., has purchased a building near Calhoun, Ga., where it will add white room and liquid silicone rubber molding capabilities.
The company had been leasing the 40,000-square-foot building for warehouse space. Evco has an existing molding plant nearby.
"The opportunity finally came about to purchase the facility, which perfectly coincided with our need to expand our footprint in Georgia to accommodate new work coming in," Kate Bashir, director of strategy, said.
With the new plant, Evco now has 1 million square feet of manufacturing space across 10 facilities.
The new site allows the company to introduce white room and LSR molding opportunities to meet demand from Evco's medical and commercial lighting customers.
"The current need is for an existing customer that is in the lighting industry, but we are also actively quoting new customer work in this area as well," Bashir said. "We are just starting to talk about LSR with our medical customers as we want to 'walk' into this new technology before we 'run.' We have had many inquires in the past and are looking forward to adding LSR to our service offering."
The new facility has room for 20 injection molding machines up to 500 tons, including a separate room for new LSR machines.
"We are moving in smaller machines from a few of our Wisconsin facilities, purchasing new machines and leaving spaces open to be able to optimize barrel/screws for specific projects as we are awarded new work," Bashir said.
LSR molding will be a new capability for Evco. The process has a reputation for being tricky, since it's a thermoset rather than a thermoplastic.
"We have been working to make the jump into LSR for years and we are finally confident we have the right set of minds in place to make it a successful part of our business," Bashir said. "We have a task-force team of engineers and processing specialists that have worked in the LSR market in previous roles. We are utilizing their expertise as well as working with our machine manufacturers to help train our team."
The plant, which Evco is calling CAL 2, also will feature two bridge cranes, four material silos, a 22,000-square-foot white room and a 725-square-foot metrology room.
Evco has decades of experience with highly automated lights-out molding, but Bashir said the new facility will take that to another level.
"For this project, high-speed automation is a critical component of the manufacturing plan," Bashir said. "We will need trained automation team members to successfully operate lights-out and be available to troubleshoot as needed. I would say the major difference is the reliance on highly sophisticated automation as opposed to programs in the past, which were automated, but not to this degree."
The facility will be fully operational in the fall.
In addition to CAL 2, Evco is in the process of adding 13,000 square feet to its automated molding facility in DeForest, which is dubbed AMP. That project will allow the company to add more machines in that factory, plus increase the amount of raw materials and finished goods that can be stored on-site.
"Reaching over 1 million square feet is a huge milestone for us," said Gary Fortier, director of Evco's U.S. operations. "As our customers' needs grow, so do we. This new space allows us to create more opportunities to meet the ongoing requirements of customers, as well as the industry as a whole."
Bashir said business is strong for Evco.
"Material shortages prove to be a continued challenge with the increased worldwide demand, but outside of that, we are doing our best to meet our customer needs by setting up to run 24/7 in plants that need the extra time, optimizing our schedules and reducing turnover time," Bashir said.
"We kicked off 2021 with three months of all-time record sales and are not showing any signs of slowing down," she said.
Evco was founded in 1964, employs more than 1,700 people and operates 235 injection molding machines, ranging from 28 to 3,500 tons. In addition to Georgia, it has four molding plants in Wisconsin, three in Mexico and one in China.
The company, which was Plastics News' 2015 Processor of the Year, ranked No. 51 in the most recent PN survey of North American injection molders, with molding sales in the region of $188 million.