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.

Dynamic Opportunities in Focused Markets

DeKALB Molded Plastics made a strategic decision in 2014 to focus on multiple market segments. Our goal is to expand our market focus to offer quality structural plastics to industries that promote better quality of life. Our main three segments are Medical Enclosures, Safety Devices, and Special Material Handling. Each brings their own unique value to DeKALB and provides the opportunity to display our capabilities in different ways.

Market Segment

Medical Enclosures – Typically are molded with engineered resins with value added operations such as inserting, painting, silk screening, and/or kitting. Volumes may vary in quantity. This segment meets our core competencies both from a molding and finishing perspective.

Safety Devices – Safety is the number one focus within DeKALB and anytime we can provide product within that industry, we consider it a win. In addition, we currently have a customer using 100% recycled material in their product. Not only are we providing a safety product but also focusing on being green.

Specialty Material Handling – This segment goes well beyond pallets. Any product used to store or transfer could be placed in this market segment. The structural foam process provides product that is light weight yet durable in strength. In addition, not only are virgin materials utilized in these products but also regrinds to save on costs.

Our development processes are continually improved and perfected to fit the needs of specific industries. As we continue to expand our offerings and capabilities, we have researched other market segments, such as Recreational and Lawn/Garden. DeKALB is always looking for new opportunities and strives to offer the highest quality of products and service. While we focus on our deliberate market segments, each are carefully evaluated to ensure the needs are within our capabilities and align well with DeKALB’s overall growth strategy.

What are some plastic assembly requirements that DeKalb Plastics has performed?

Transcript:

We’ve had everything from whether it’s just bolting another piece on to cutting their part and hot plate welding a cover piece back onto a sheet onto it, to liner assembly. We have particular one that it’s a pickup truck toolbox and parts come out. We have some little pieces that are molded elsewhere, hardware is all right there. It comes out and runs through an assembly, goes into the box with the instructions with the mounting hardware, gets the in customers barcode label on the corner of the box. If you go to the store, nobody else has touched it. The way it went away from our machine is exactly the way the customer gets it. We provide that level of solution if that’s what’s needed.

What is DeKALB’s plastics manufacturing size capabilities?

Transcript:

Many people come to DeKALB Molded Plastics because we can make large parts. Large parts, structural foam, gas assist, very, very well. We can make products up to 150 pounds at our facility, but really it’s the type of process that we can do. Because they are so large, we can be cost effective with the rate reduction, and again, providing the characteristics that you need for your large part. We present warp, creep, all the building stresses that come with an injection molded part go away with structural foam.

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.

How can DeKALB Molded Plastics help with the tooling process?

Transcript:

I have a product engineer that is very intimate with the tooling process. He does a very close negotiation with the customer and their design staff. He interfaces very closely with the tool shops. We don’t necessarily select or control the operations at the tool shop, but we are very intimate with making sure that it accomplishes what the customer would like to see. That interface between the customer, the tool shop, and my product engineer is very integral to making sure that that all comes together in a successful job.

Inventory Management Benefits for Customers

For the team of experts at DeKALB Molded Plastics, inventory accuracy is a major focus from all levels and aspects of the company. In order to accomplish this, we have established a reliable management system in all phases of production from the hardware (wireless AP), handheld scanners, barcode printers and data entry/collection stations at all presses. By coupling that with a top-notch ERP System and the proper training, we have successfully accomplished a solid management system.

Warehouse management at DeKALB is supported and accomplished through our ERP system (or IQMS). This program enables us to be organized and streamlined by receiving the items, printing barcoded labels and moving materials to the press, as well as scanning labels to ship produced items to our customers.

As stated by IQMS, this program enables our team to properly “monitor, manage, analyze and report on the manufacturing process from end-to-end, giving you real-time visibility and control over your entire manufacturing supply chain.”

Operational Efficiency

By regularly maintaining important steps with our ERP system, we are able to be more efficient, which saves time and money for the customer. Our team is always focused on implementing the following process:

  • Product is ticketed upon receipt
  •  Product is ticketed once produced
  • Product is logically organized and categorized
  • When product is shipped, the tickets are scanned and recorded

Customer Service is Priority

A major reason why DeKALB has invested time and money into an efficient ERP system is to provide cost and time savings for our customers. Therefore, our system is very streamlined to allow for an easy-to-follow set of instructions that pertain to sales orders, pick tickets, resin orders and scheduling. To have a recorded process, which all managers can access and adjust, has substantially reduced the shipping of non-conformance products. In fact, customers have attested to our reliability as there have been zero shipment errors since the inception of the ERP system.

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.

How can DeKALB help with plastic injection needs?

Transcript: DeKALB Molded Plastics is a custom molder of injection plastic products. We specifically do structural foam, gas assist. You may have an idea and you’ll have a basic concept and we are able to produce the entire product for you. You bring us your idea and we’ll take it from concept to finish production. We will assist you with design. We will connect you with the tool shops. We will provide those services. We will launch your product for you, and then we will be your producer. You still will own the tool. It’ll be your product, but we will be your manufacturing arm.