Category Archives: News

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.

Gas Assist Molding

Providing a one-stop-shop for our customers’ plastic and assembly requirements, DeKALB Molded Plastics utilizes three main plastic manufacturing processes to create our products: structural foam, gas counter-pressure, and gas assist. Beginning in the mid-1990s, our team began using gas assist as a way to enhance part performance and aesthetics with a footprint as large as 150 pounds and up to 30 inches deep.

What is Gas Assist Molding?

Gas assist molding is a process that uses pressurized nitrogen gas to hollow out strategically placed sections. During the process, plastic is injected into a mold, then gas is injected either in thick zones or in gas channels, depending on the part. For each part, our team works with the customer to determine the optimal settings for manufacturing the part, to achieve maximum performance while minimizing cost.

Once the resin is introduced into the mold, the nitrogen gas is injected into the polymer melt. The nitrogen forms hollow sections as it displaces the polymer in thicker areas, resulting in a significantly lighter cross-section. The gas assist method prevents sink marks and the ‘characteristic swirl’ that occurs during structural foam processing. In addition, cycle time is reduced due to faster cooling, equating to a lower cost component.

Benefits of Gas Assist Molding

Gas assist molding has many benefits:

  • Faster cycle time
  • Surface finish similar to injection molding
  • Reduced cooling times
  • Lighter part weight
  • Lower piece part price
  • Integrating localized design features

Applications of Gas Assist Molding

Typical uses for gas assist molding include:

  • Hollowing out a localized thick area
  • Generating stiffening sections across a part
  • Performing the pack phase of the process

Each of these reasons provides a different benefit. Hollowing out a thick area of a part also allows bold design features. Gas assist can also be used to increase the structural integrity of a part by producing stiffness across the part. Finally, using gas assist molding to perform the pack phase of the process allows a part to function in a smaller press tonnage, which lowers overhead.

When weighing the benefits of different ways to mold a part, the gas assist molding process is often chosen because of the benefits of not having the swirled pattern common to foamed products. Overall, gas assist molding produces parts with more attractive cosmetic surfaces.

What Products are Created Using Gas Assist Molding?

Everything including air compressor parts, medical equipment housings, refrigerator door handles, heater shrouds, bleacher seats, and utility carts. The possibilities of what can be created through gas assist molding are limited only by our imagination.

Does the Design of Gas Assist Molding Require Additional Considerations?

During the tooling design stage, tooling is adapted to direct gas into predetermined areas hollowing out up to 15% of the total volume.

To learn more about gas assist molding or any of our processes at DeKALB, contact our committed team of experts today!

DeKALB Receives Primex Award for Outstanding Partnership

DeKALB Molded Plastics received the 2017 award for Recognition of Outstanding Partnership with Primex, announced Steve Boyd, Materials Manager at DeKALB.

The award was bestowed upon DeKALB for dedication and reliability when working with Primex. Each year the award is presented to Primex customers that have created successful partnerships by working together and developing effective programs that are a win-win for both the supplier and customer. The recognition from Primex confirms DeKALB’s passion for our people, products, customers, and suppliers. Through relationships like these, DeKALB hopes to cultivate long-term benefits that will influence future projects.

“DeKALB manages our relationships with the highest level of professionalism, respect, and courtesy with both suppliers and customers,” says Boyd. “We also aim to demonstrate the courage to shape a more profitable future for our whole team.”

The entire DeKALB organization is honored to receive recognition from their peers, especially from a partner with such a stout reputation as Primex.

About Primex

Primex Plastics is a subsidiary of ICC Industries Inc., a worldwide leader in trading, distribution, marketing and manufacturing, primarily of chemicals, plastics and related products.

DeKALB Celebrates 20 Years Under Rodgers and Walters’ Leadership

DeKALB Molded Plastics is thrilled to be commemorating 20 years of local ownership under Jeff Rodgers and Rick Walters, and 38 years overall of successful business, relationships, and service to the community.

Founded in 1978, DeKALB Molded Plastics is a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products. DeKALB was one of the first ISO 9002 certified (currently 9001:2015) structural plastics molders in the US. In 1997, Jeff Rodgers and Rick Walters purchased DeKALB from their parent company, JSJ Corporation. While the two serve as owners, Walters is also the President and CEO.

“We couldn’t be happier to be celebrating 20 incrediblely productive years with our team members and the community,” says Walters. “From the start, DeKALB has aimed to be a one-stop shop for your plastic and assembly requirements, and I think we’ve achieved that status and then some.”

One of DeKALB’s biggest differentiators under the leadership of Rodgers and Walters has been their commitment to the local community of Butler, Indiana.

“DeKALB is really engaged with our community because you have to make where you live a really good place,” says Walters. “That’s a combination of work, home, and anything else that’s around you. We work hard to make sure we put our time and our talents back into our community. A lot of people will help financially but really it’s about the time. It’s about getting out there, making contributions, and engaging – that’s what brings the win.”

The entire DeKALB organization will be hosting a party on Sunday, September 10, 2017, to officially celebrate their 20 years of outstanding leadership.

Level Three AchieveWELL

DeKALB is proud to be recognized as a Three Star AchieveWELL organization.

AchieveWell-BannerLevel3AchieveWELL is an award winning, proven strategic process, developed by the Wellness Council of Indiana, which provides a road map to the destination of a good workplace while recognizing excellence in the field of health promotion. AchieveWELL works with companies and organizations by providing tools and coaching help to create a more consistent work place.

To become a Three Star AchieveWELL organization, DeKALB made several strategic changes to help promote wellness throughout the organization.  Implementing wellness was well received amongst our leadership team and become apparent by their participation and encouragement in companywide challenges, up to and including the president/CEO.  Challenges were a great to introduce wellness into our culture and helped build moral and camaraderie amongst the employees.  And, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.

In addition to challenges, we also introduced healthier vending machine options.  Healthier items are encouraged but we don’t take away people’s choices by eliminating completely.  Healthier selections are available at a slightly lower cost which is yet another encouragement.  Improving our overall communication and education opportunities was key for our employees to be successful in their wellness journey.  Provide the information and opportunity, the rest is supported by their strategic focus to live healthier.

Wellness is ingrained in both DeKALB’s mission and vision. We are not satisfied with a Three Star AcheiveWELL certification, and DeKALB is committed to becoming Four Star certified in 2017 and Five Star in 2018.

MAPP Innovation Award

DeKALB also received the 2016 MAPP Innovation Award. Capturing over 120 votes for the water manifold entry, voted on by plastics professionals in the United States, DeKALB won the award by a landslide.

Along with the title the award came with a monetary to award our employees for a job well done, free entries to a future plant tour event, special recognition during the 2016 MAPP Benchmarking Conference, and recognition in the national industry publication Plastics Business.

Dedication to Customers and Community Drives DeKALB’s Culture

Our mission at DeKALB Molded Plastics is simple: To provide customer satisfaction that is unsurpassed in the structural plastics industry. This starts with our internal strategies. All of our employees are instilled with this mission, always providing the best possible service for our customers and embracing our community, whether it be in the office or off the clock.

We understand that our employees are the backbone of DeKALB, hence our industry Excellence Award for Employee Relations. We’re proud of the devotion towards a healthy company culture which creates dedicated and passionate employees, which is key to a happy customer. From company golf outings to DeKALB cook outs, there are numerous events held to keep our employees engaged in the culture that surrounds us. Our employees even enjoy free Fitbits to help track and monitor their health.

DeKALB Molded Plastics wouldn’t be the company it is today without the support of the community. That’s why the team at DeKALB holds a variety of events giving back to the town of Butler. Every year we host the Annual Recognition Dinner, paying homage to the Butler Police, Fire, and EMS departments, giving each member a small token of our appreciation as well as a donation to each department. While we consistently donate to organizations recommended to us by our employees, one of our favorite charitable contributions is to the local Butler school system. DeKALB is also a proud corporate sponsor of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. In recent years, we have participated in the United Way Day of Caring, a volunteer opportunity to lend a helping hand to local nonprofits and give back to the great community that embraces our company.

At DeKALB, it’s very important that all of our employees are on the same page. Synergy is promoted through communication. This is what builds our culture at DeKALB. With a combination of unsurpassed customer satisfaction, community involvement, and employee recognition, we are able to create an enjoyable work place and maintain our strong reputation. Giving back not only helps the community and our team members, it helps DeKALB become a better company for our customers.

DeKALB Molded Plastics President Rick Walters Appointed CEO

Butler, IN – DeKALB Molded Plastics’ incumbent president, Rick Walters, added Chief Executive Officer to his title effective March 1, 2016. The move comes from DeKALB owner Jeff Rodgers, who has long planned on relinquishing more responsibility to Walters.

“This is a decision that should have been made a couple of years ago,” said Rodgers. “Rick has done an admiral job of managing DeKALB Molded Plastics, and this promotion signifies my continued confidence in his skills.”

Having worked at DeKALB his entire career, Rick Walters has an established network of professional partners and friends. His technical knowledge and understanding of the importance of team help support employees throughout all areas of the organization.

With new authority, Walters seeks continued success for DeKALB. The first of his main priorities is to advance DeKALB’s development plan, building the next generation of leaders and maintaining status as a premier structural plastics molder. He also strives to capture new business opportunities by promoting DeKALB’s value-added capabilities and the structural plastics process.

“DeKALB exists because of the great employees who understand how to be successful and know how to bring real value to our customers. I have always enjoyed being a part of our group and am blessed to be their leader,” said Walters. “I really care about each of them. Being CEO enhances my opportunity to promote individual creativity and help tell their story. I’ll cheer and channel their ideas for our team successes, and our celebrations will be intense!”

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About DeKALB Molded Plastics:

Founded in 1978, DeKALB Molded Plastics is a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products. As one of the first ISO 9002, currently 9001:2008, certified structural plastics molders in the US, DeKALB offers a variety of value-added operations, including in-house post mold painting, plastic decorating capabilities, kitting, and assembly requirements for programs ranging from single stand-alone products to complex, multi-component, multi-operation programs. For more information on DeKALB Molded Plastics, please call 260-868-2105 or visit www.dekalbplastics.com.

Media Contact:

Teresa Schell
President | Vive, LLC
414.292.1291
tschell@vive4mfg.com