All posts by Kyle Naber

Dedicated to Continuous Improvement, Dedicated to Quality

With over 40 years of experience in structural foam molding, DeKALB Molded Plastics is proud of the world-class quality reputation we have built. At DeKALB, our mission is to provide unsurpassed customer satisfaction with the products and services that we provide. To achieve this, we have placed a heavy emphasis on continuous improvement, taking a comprehensive look at every detail of our process, understanding there are always ways to advance our capabilities. Our team has established clearly defined standards that help control all process variables, ensuring that every product that leaves our facility meets our standards before they exceed yours.

Standard Process, Custom to You

Being an ISO 9001:2015 company, we take great pride in creating quality parts that our customers can count on. DeKALB Molded Plastics has a standard process for every part that we mold, with established procedures inside of the practice as a whole. Our meticulous quality checks include processes for:

  • Material
  • Melt Flow Analysis
  • Colorants
  • Specifications of the material
  • Value-added inspections
  • Visual inspections
  • Weight tracking

In addition to our standard processes, we also have the flexibility to implement additional verifications and inspections, as required by our customers. Some of our additional quality process capabilities include the ability to complete gage R&R studies, understanding how the measurement determines repeatability and reproducibility, flatness checks to discover how well the part maintains its shape, verification of size and some capability studies. For customers with higher-level requirements or those in the medical industry, DeKALB offers a production part approval process or PPAP submission to ensure that part specifications are met.

What Makes Us Different

Some companies may pass on parts that require too many part inspections, while others do not have the capabilities to do part testing. Being committed to your solutions means that we are dedicated to finding a way to offer a complete custom molding solution, every time.

As part of our growing capabilities to ensure quality, we offer some product testing including:

  • Adhesion testing & plastic welding parts
  • Build up test
  • Falling dart test
  • Other various tests, as requested by the customer

As a custom molder, one of our greatest strengths is our flexibility. We regularly have customers ask us to do specific inspections and verifications for their products. At DeKALB, our customers set the standards for the quality checks and verifications that are completed on their parts through individual runs or set of runs. Far from simply molding a part and shipping it, what separates us from our competition is the number of quality checks we perform, our ability to produce parts in color, and our willingness to do as many inspections as needed by our customers.

Continuous Improvement in Action

Continuous improvement is a way of life at DeKALB, as we constantly strive to advance our company, never being satisfied with where we are. Our culture of continuous improvement means we are always looking at how we can improve our processes, quality, safety and how we can expand our capabilities.

Recently, DeKALB has experienced exciting growth with our expansion in automation and continued additions to our quality measures to support a high grade of aesthetics. At the end of 2019, DeKALB added a new robot, adding to our automation capabilities. Currently, the new robot is being used for multiple customers and will continue to be utilized more.

As DeKalb continues to expand capabilities to suit the needs of our customers, our team recently began working with new programs that require more analysis, including some hot stamping applications for multiple parts, as well as adding labels more accurately. These parts have labels that require very precise placement and have several requirements and standards related to their placement. Our team has added additional quality control measures, helping to improve our ability to meet these needs. Both of these examples are areas that highlight how DeKALB is growing and showcases how we continue to find ways to live out our culture of continuous improvement.

Future of Quality at DeKALB

We are excited to expand our abilities in electronic data collection and use lessons learned to improve our sampling and manufacturing capabilities. As we continue to grow, we maintain our commitment to delivering excellence, ensuring that our products and services are best-in-class, and understanding that each of us is responsible for the quality of everything we do.

Let’s start your next project together; contact us today!

Structural Foam Molding, It’s What We Do

As a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products, DeKALB Molded Plastics has more than 40 years of experience serving our customers as a trusted business partner. We believe in structural foam because, at DeKALB Molded Plastics, we are structural foam!

The Basics of Structural Foam

A simple question that is often asked to us is, “what are the characteristics of structural foam?” Since structural foam is not a material but rather a manufacturing process, it’s not easy to answer this question. What is structural foam? Structural foam plastic molding is an injection molding process that utilizes a foaming agent and/or nitrogen gas that mixes with the base resin in the polymer melt before being injected into the mold.

What Materials are used in the Structural Foam Process?

As the case with most plastic manufacturing processes, polymers are used. There are two main categories of polymers, thermoplastics and thermosets. The main difference between the two is thermosets cannot be recycled, while thermoplastics can. At DeKALB, we primarily work with thermoplastics and can mold almost all of them. Under the thermoplastics umbrella lies three general groups of resins - commodity, engineered and performance. DeKALB Molded Plastics mainly focuses on commodity resins, but we mold many engineered resins as well. True to our commitment to providing unrivaled customer satisfaction, we have the flexibility and experience to work with all three types. In addition to the resins that we work with, DeKALB is also equipped to add additivities including talc, glass-fiber, impact modifiers and, in some cases, crumb rubber.

Structural foam has great recyclability, as parts molded in this process can be made from virgin material or recycled material. From there, the part, whether originally from virgin material or recycled material, can continue to be recycled, and subsequently, remolded again and again.

What Does DeKALB Molded Plastics Do?

Simply put, we mold big, heavy-duty thermoplastic parts. Generally, the guidelines for the parts that we produce weigh between 3 and 150 pounds, dimensionally parts are a 1’ x 1’ square, up to 4’ x 8’, similar to a sheet of plywood, and 30” deep. The thickness of the parts produced ranges from 3/16” to 3/8+” (4.7mm to 10mm).

We have the capabilities to go slightly outside of those boundaries getting close to 6 feet by 6 feet or just under 36 square feet. As always, depending on the application, there are some instances where we can go larger. As for the thickness of the part, we can go thicker or thinner, though when making a part thicker, it is usually more cost-effective to add strength with ribbing rather than thicker sections of plastic. Additionally, when making a part thinner than 3/16”, there are more considerations to make and pay attention to during the process.

DeKALB has a long and proud history of producing custom molded products for multiple market segments. Some examples of the products that we mold include:

  • Yellow barrels – (Seen on highways)
  • Pallets
  • Flooring
  • Underground enclosures

Can You Paint Structural Foam Parts?

From the color of your kitchen to the shoes that you wear, being able to customize something to get exactly what you want is important, and the same is true for the parts that we make. Providing custom solutions, in exactly the color you need, is just one of the ways DeKALB effectively serves our customers. Structural foam parts can be painted, and there are two ways to go about creating parts in a certain color. The part can be molded in color with colorants mixed in or color can be added during secondary operations. To meet your exact specifications, we either add colorant into the foam-resin mix or our in-house paint shop can meet the specific color requested.

We Are Structural Foam

Do you have questions about structural foam? Visit our structural foam FAQ’s.

When you work with us, you work with a partner that is committed to your solutions, providing the answers to your structural foam needs. With a wide range of capabilities in plastic processing and an experienced team of engineers, operators and quality technicians, DeKALB Molded Plastics is up to the challenge. Ready to discover what DeKALB can do for you? Contact us today!

DeKALB Molded Plastics Committed to Safety

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we strive to ensure that everyone who enters our facility is entering a safe work environment. As a team planning our 2020 goals, we decided we’re not willing to give up on anyone’s safety. It doesn’t matter if you’re an employee, a customer, a vendor, or a truck driver, our goal remains the same – ZERO! At DeKALB, safety is everyone’s responsibility. We are conscientious not only about our safety but the safety of others around us.

The benefits of maintaining a safe work environment are many, but first and foremost, safety is about the dedication and execution of protecting those within your building. We at DeKALB, want to send our teammates home in the same condition they arrived in.

DeKALB’s strategic focus on a safe work environment boosts employee morale, which in turn, increases productivity, efficiency and profit margins. When our teammates feel like they have a good, safe work environment, they feel like they can make a difference. There are fewer staff absences, less staff turnover and improves the quality of work.

Regardless of the number of safety guidelines and practices that are in place, we believe they won’t do any good if our teammates are not aware and invested in following those guidelines. We at DeKALB embrace the fact that the safest work environment occurs when employees, at all levels of the organization, work together to communicate and adhere to the safety standards defined. Our safety program has been successful because it encourages employees to report unsafe situations and behaviors, promoting safe practices throughout the workday.

Equipment maintenance is important at DeKALB. When equipment is not properly maintained, the work environment can become a hazard, even beyond the risk of malfunctions. Our teammates have been trained and are prepared to know what to look for when a machine is not operating correctly. Our staff is on the lookout for warning signs like vibrations, alarms, leaks and unusual noises. When our equipment is being maintained, we make sure safeguards are in place. Additionally, our staff is cautiously responsible for moving materials in multiple conditions: raw, in-process and finished goods. Inappropriate handling of material can be dangerous, resulting in overexertion and exhaustion, running the risk of equipment failure. Our team values how important it is to physically lift objects the right way, which reduces the risk for strains and sprains or even broken bones.

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we take safety seriously. When an employee grows complacent with safety, it can become a huge liability to the team member’s wellbeing and the company. We believe that most workplace accidents can be prevented simply by being alert. Heavy machinery and forklifts can especially be dangerous, and that’s why we require our team to be constantly vigilant and consistently aware of their surroundings.

At the end of the day, we deliver high-quality structural foam components that are used in many of today’s medical and material handling end products. Our high standards for quality are paralleled by our high standards for safety within our building and for our team members.