Anaheim, Calif. — Mack Prototype Inc., a subsidiary of Vermont-based injection molder Mack Molding Co., has launched a New Product Introduction platform for manufacturing and engineering support in a 15,000-square-foot space, creating a "direct path" from design to prototype and production.
Mack hopes to fill the space with established companies and startups seeking support for low-volume builds, and to help to establish production plans while working through design changes, the development of work instructions and build plans. When a program is ready for full-scale production, it can move into one of Mack Molding's larger contract manufacturing facilities.
There can be a "disconnect that happens between early-stage pre-production manufacturing and full-scale manufacturing," Jeff Somple, president of Mack Molding, told Plastics News on Aug. 11 at MD&M West 2021 in Anaheim. "Information doesn't get passed correctly. … The idea here is you can eliminate all of that."
The new product launch space in Gardener, Mass., also features customer-accessible, real-time cloud-based data and work instructions.
"You hit a button, and all of that information transfers up to [Mack Molding]" in Vermont, Somple said.
When Mack Molding's headquarters team, the Mack Prototype team and its customers all work hands-on together in the process, Greg Cebular, president of Mack Prototype, told Plastics News, "you're going to hit the ground running a little bit faster than you would if you had to start from scratch."
"Everybody sees how things are working," Cebular said. "It's almost like a playground for the engineers to come troubleshoot."
With another 20,000 square feet available for expansion, Somple said, he expects Mack Prototype could add another floor to the shop depending on demand as new and existing customers inquire about the service over the next six months.
More customer control "allows for quick engineering changes" with on-site prototyping and machining, an Aug. 10 news release said, and other benefits like sourcing parts from an approved vendor list and the fabrication of metal and plastic parts on the same equipment.
Production operators can also be trained by program managers, manufacturing and quality engineers ahead of a move from prototype to production, it said.
Mack Prototype hopes to keep the space continually "modular," Cebular said, adding that the program booths "need to be able to move and adjust depending on the size of [developments]," with customizable equipment to fit customers' needs.
So far the company's investment has been mostly in "space and people," Somple said. "We always had this extra space upstairs," now filled with benches and pneumatic screwdrivers.
A prototype developed in the space is about to move forward to Vermont for production. Somple said he expects the transition to full production to be "seamless."
"With supply chain and design for manufacturing services, as well as molding and machining capabilities, right on-site, we are uniquely positioned to give small program productions large program-level engineering support," Cebular said in an Aug. 10 news release.
"Our size gives us the agility necessary to adapt to the changing needs of early-stage manufacturing, while our experience and support from the broader Mack Molding family means customers can move into full program launch when they are ready," he added.
Manufacturing Engineer Patrick Merrill will lead efforts at Mack Prototype, with 10 years of engineering experience, including the medical device industry. Merrill most recently served as senior manufacturing engineer for Denver-based Medical Creations Inc./Xtremity, the release said.
"Patrick is a great addition to our team," Cebular said in the release. "His broad experience with managing inventories, quality system implementation, design for manufacturing, benchtop testing and developing manufacturing procedures make him uniquely qualified to lead this effort to provide customers with a new pathway to production."