Category Archives: Structural Plastics

Custom Foam Molding: Process, Solution, Success

It’s a Thorough Process:

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, our team excels at providing comprehensive custom foam molding solutions for (structural plastic) molded products.  When added value is required on a part such as painting, kitting or fabrication, DeKALB is your single source for custom foam molding solutions. We provide design assistance, will engineer the optimum moldability of a part, and manufacture custom-molded structural foam to print specifications. And we do it quickly and cost-effectively.

  • Engineering support with MoldFlow
  • Design Assistance
  • Complete Project Management
  • Strong Expertise and Internal Resources

It’s a Complete Solution:

DeKALB has built a reputation around high quality standards for structural foam materials. We are committed to providing innovative ideas to the part development process, but more importantly, building long-term relationships through superior customer service. To maintain a high level of service and quality, our team meets each morning to review the progress of every project and net out daily goals. The overall goal is to pass our knowledge and expertise in structural foam materials directly to our customers and set the bar high for long-term success.

It’s a Group Success:

DeKALB offers superior customer service as this is critical to the success of our business. The company is committed to meeting customer requirements for delivery, quality, responsiveness, pricing and technical support. That is how DeKALB aims to become our customers’ single source for plastic and assembly needs. We’re proud of the fact that the majority of our customers have been with us for many years.

Metal to Plastic Conversion

DeKALB Molded Plastics is a leader in the plastics industry with a specific focus on providing injection molded solutions for structural plastics. Our team has the advanced capability to offer metal to plastic conversion, which offers several advantages to OEMs looking for reduced costs and efficient manufacturing. This process has proven that large, plastic components can be manufactured to be just as durable and strong as their metal equivalents, which means significant advantages for our customers:

Reduced Costs of Final Products

  • Production of plastic parts is more consistent
  • Product weighs less and reduces shipping and operational costs
  • Less waste and more consistency of final products

Improved Manufacturing Process

  • High tensile strength with proper structural design
  • Reduction in part weight
  • More flexibility for design

Therefore, if you are looking to cut down on weight and cost, while never comprising the integrity of your product, our metal to plastic conversion specialty is worth investigating. We also offer engineering and design assistance, including program management and product development.

While there are many reasons why metal to plastic conversion might be beneficial to you, below are some answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Metal to Plastic Conversion Q & A:

Why is metal to plastic conversion beneficial?

Customers who have problems with their current metal products, such as inconsistent dimensions or increasing costs for metal often look to plastic conversion as an alternative solution.

What challenges does DeKALB face when using this manufacturing process?

The practicality of metal to plastic conversion has to be considered. Our team is great at communicating challenges and offering both material and design suggestions.

What opportunities are created by using this process? How many of DeKALB’s customers either require and/or prefer metal to plastic conversion?

Specialty Material Handling market segment would provide the greatest opportunity for conversion of metal to plastic. Those converted products could include pallets, bins, totes, and carts.

What is a product that was made using the metal to plastic conversion process?

A customer was having issues with a heavy metal automotive seat pallet that was damaging production lines within their facility. They needed something durable yet non-abrasive and plastic conversion was a great alternative.

DeKALB Molded Plastics has completed metal to plastic conversion for a wide array of industries. Communicate directly with our engineering team today to discover the possibility of transforming your metal products to plastic.

What is DeKALB’s commitment to robotics?

DeKALB’s commitment to robotics is that we’re really trying to advance our processes. You can see behind us we have an application in which we have a very high level, very critical product that’s coming out. From an efficiency standpoint and material handling standpoint because of it’s complexity it’s much easier for us to be able to use that with a robotics application. It makes us more efficient. It makes us better quality coming out and a safer unload of the press when we use the robotics application.

DeKALB Champions Seat Support Pallet

“I would recommend working with DeKALB because of their ability to plan very well and not let any issues fall through the cracks.” Mitch Kujawa, Polyflex

The Challenge

Polyflex was in the market for a structural plastics company to produce the bases for a seat support pallet, as they did not have a large enough press to run the project. The seat support pallet was being produced for the end manufacturer, Magna, who supplies for Chrysler. The final purpose of the seat support pallet was for seat material handling, so that seats can be brought through the assembly line.

DeKALB was chosen due to their ability to design ribs and manage overall mold ability of the part. The project required four towers, which the team worked to fill properly with correct nozzle configurations. Attachment points and interfaces with the steal components were analyzed by the team to ensure proper functionality as they went from steal to plastic pallet.

DeKALB’s Solution

DeKALB partnered with a tool source to ensure the tool was molded properly and according to quality standards. Advanced Quality Planning (APQP) was utilized in the designing and tooling phases to ensure a successful outcome. Additionally, regular meetings with the tool source were managed by the DeKALB team to make sure Polyflex/Magna was comfortable with the process and all timelines were met.

Communicative Approach

The team at DeKALB started the project with a strong program management approach. They made certain to communicate any potential design concerns upfront; with a solution plan already in place. This strategy included all initial design meetings.

Once in the tool quoting phase, regular meetings were scheduled with Polyflex and DeKALB to identify any concerns and report progress. Polyflex was very communicative and comfortable with this process as the DeKALB team planned structured agendas in order to identify issues as well as provide solutions to solve them.

In addition to weekly meetings, team members were easy to reach by phone and email. They responded quickly with answers to any questions or concerns. Overall, the DeKALB team was very proactive and did a great job of displaying how any change would affect the overall timeline.

Successful Result

Everyone at DeKALB was very committed to the success of this project and the mold trial was realized without a hitch. Polyflex managed the buildup at their facility and then sent to Magna to complete the final review.

In the end, all parties were very pleased when the first run of the tool was realized and approved as qualified by a tool expert and production is set to begin in May 2014. Polyflex could not be more satisfied with the project management displayed by DeKALB and would recommend the team based on the positive outcome of the seal support pallet.

Can DeKalb Plastics help with a metal to plastic mold conversion?

Transcript: DeKALB has worked with people doing metal to plastic product conversion before, specifically in the cargo boxes for some of the ATVs, the utility-type ATVs. We’ve worked with three or four different groups and ended up you don’t always win every one, unfortunately, but we do have one that we’re doing right now that’s been going for several years now and a very successful thing. Matter of fact, we’ve had a couple of other people call up about that and ask some questions trying to get some confidential information, which of course, we can’t share. That’s one area that we’ve seen very successful transfer.

What is Special Material Handling?

Transcription:  One of the target markets for DeKalb Molded Plastics is specialty material handling. We do pallets. We do containers. But really we do things that are specific to an application. It may be a metal product. It may be a medical product, but it has to be handled and protected really well and that’s what we do really, really well. A lot of people do pallets, a lot of people do the big containers, but we will specialize. Special totes, things protect and keep these things safe.

Does DeKalb Plastics offer gas assist injection molding?

Transcription: As part of our structural plastics work we do gas assist injection molding. Gas assist is really an injection molding process where we enter the melt and then we chase it with nitrogen gas. This allows us to channel out specific areas, thicker sections, build in strong points into the design of the part and really give a nice robust part.

What is Foam Injection Molding?

Transcript: Foam injection molding is a process in which we take thermoplastic material and induce a colorant as well as a blowing agent in there to expand the material out. What we do is we bring in the material in from a hopper or a gondola, come into a process in which we blend it with that colorant and with that blowing agent into a hopper feeder. It then goes into a screw that is then fed the material into an accumulator. From that accumulator, then feeds into our injection process. The accumulator then feeds in through injection process into an aluminum mold. That’s the nice thing about our process is that we use less expensive molds. We don’t use steel ones. We use aluminum ones. By having that it’s a major advantage. The material is then through multiple ports injected into usually a single cavity tool. We may put more than one cavity into a press, but it’s multiple ports coming into one cavity.

What is structural foam molding?

Transcript:

Structural foam molding is a process in which we use similar thermoplastics but you use blowing agents and you use colorants, and the blowing agents allow you to expand the material into the mold at a much lower pressure than you would on a high injection pressure system. What that does that gives you very good structural strength, it gives you the ability to save between 15-20% of your thermoplastic materials, it gives you the ability to make larger parts of that structural condition that you may not be able to do within a high pressure injection molding process.