Category Archives: Plastics Manufacturing

Employee Spotlight: Jason Marker and Penni Lett

Efficiency and balance are critical roles behind DeKALB Molded Plastics’ workflow. For two DeKALB employees, Jason Marker, an Electrical Technician, and Penni Lett, a Nozzle Technician,  these initiatives inspired them to continue working and improving their skillsets in and out of the workplace. For both Jason and Penni, DeKALB has played a crucial role in growing their careers.

Penni, the lead female nozzle technician, builds nozzles and blocks for the presses to keep the machinery running efficiently. Her occupation is not as common for women; in order to get her to where she is today, DeKALB’s team of experts supported her with hands-on internal training to help improve her skills. The support she received from that training, as well as team camaraderie, made starting her career at DeKALB a no-brainer. DeKALB always advocates for employees to grow in their careers, as they did for Penni.

As an electrical technician, Jason programs robots to implement more automation for safer equipment. However, Jason’s career at DeKALB didn’t start like that: he began in another position for industrial maintenance. He knew he wanted to do more for the company, and with feedback from his team, Jason left but came back when DeKALB’s equipment had a higher need for robotic integration. This inspired him to apply for the new robotics position while also going back to school, giving him the experience he needed to advance further in his career. DeKALB helped him balance work, family, and school by offering flexible hours. Such personalization for job positions is crucial in the DeKALB organization, not only to progress their robotics integration programs but also to enhance a collaborative work environment.

The team at DeKALB dedicates itself to employees, always making sure they are thriving in all aspects of their lives. This is why outreach doesn’t stop in the workplace: DeKALB consistently gives back to programs like United Way as well as to the local police and fire departments. The community has always been an extension of the workplace, and it is an integral part of the team environment that DeKALB upholds.

Through internal training programs, support of higher education for employees, and community outreach efforts, DeKALB is proud to be the foundation that has helped so many hard workers continue to thrive, both in their careers and in their lives.

Want to hear more stories about the people who inspire DeKALB in the workplace? Read more here.

The Benefit of Using Recycled Resins   

As plastic products become more common throughout the world, we increasingly become more concerned about the effects it has on the environment. Many people call for waste control solutions, while others call for restrictions, reduction, and a push for strong recycling programs. Manufacturers are able to recycle plastic by shredding and reducing plastic products into pellets that can then be re-processed. These pellets are then re-molded into another useful product and provide value once again.

At DeKALB, recycling is exactly what we do – we process 100% recycled resins in many of our structural foam molded products to make sure old materials get a second life. Re-using plastic waste helps reduce our carbon footprint by keeping plastics out of landfills and creating products that can be used for another generation.

Cost Savings Opportunities

Using recycled resins can result in a significant price reduction in many products. Resin savings can be as much as 50% more compared to virgin resins, while some products can be made with up to 100% recycled material. DeKALB encourages our clients to consider the benefits of integrating recycled resins into their products when we first sit down to talk with them. We encourage the use of sustainable manufacturing solutions as it benefits both the customer and the environment.

The resin market can often fluctuate in price and product availability, especially during times of uncertainty. Many molding companies will lean more heavily on recycled materials when virgin resin costs increase dramatically or are not available. DeKALB consistently uses recycled resins to reduce customers’ daily costs, not just as an exception during unstable market times.

Where Our Recycled Resins Come From

DeKALB processes millions of pounds of recycled resin material each year in our structural foam molded products. Most recycled resins in DeKALB’s products are polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), although additional thermoplastic resins are recycled as well.

DeKALB purchases much of its recycled resin from recyclers or reclaimers who process the resins from post-consumer and post-industrial materials. These companies will process scraped products by sorting, cleaning, and grinding the material into pellets ready for molding new products.

DeKALB also directs scrap materials from our operation to be recycled rather than be sent to a landfill.  No matter if the recycled pellets come from home, the office, or a manufacturing facility—everyone benefits when plastics are re-used.

Choosing the Right Resin

With DeKALB’s wide selection of thermoplastics, we have the right material to suit the needs of your product’s specifications. Both Commodity and Engineered grade resins can be molded using recycled resins, and additives can also enhance product performance, strength, impact, or UV protection. Some resins and additives include:

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polystyrene (PS)
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Nylon (PA)
  • Glass Fiber or Beads
  • UV Protection
  • Fillers / Reinforcements
  • Impact Modifiers
  • Rubber

DeKALB’s plastic parts, fillers, and reinforcements are guaranteed to make a strong and long-lasting manufactured product. We can mold almost any recycled thermoplastic resin, which helps keep more debris out of landfills and get us one step closer to a cleaner future.

Benefits of Using Recycled Resin

We help companies save money, and surpass the uncertainty in price changes and resin shortages, by utilizing recycled resin instead of virgin resin for plastic manufactured products.

Some of the main benefits DeKALB can offer our customers with recycled materials are:

  • Lower cost
  • Long life expectancy
  • Increased strength and durability
  • Lower cost for molding
  • Excellent substitute for other materials

Leaving a Greener Footprint

Pushing for cost savings and sustainable alternatives is what makes DeKALB stand out from the competition. Our thermoplastics are manufactured with 100% recycled material, and some resins can even be recycled multiple times, all depending on the demand of the product and its purpose. The green advantage is taking recycled material while considering quality specs and ensuring they still pass the standards of new virgin resin.

Maintaining excellence with reclaimed products helps clear old post-consumer and post-industrial parts from making their way into landfills. DeKALB has recycled over 20 million pounds of recycled product in a single year, as stated by the CEO, Rick Walters. That recycled product has helped keep our planet clean as well as help consumers with significant cost savings in the long run. Every client we work with drives our green initiative to help them find quality parts for half the cost. Recycling is simply the right thing to do!

The DeKALB Difference

For over 40 years, DeKALB Molded Plastics has earned its reputation in the plastics industry for best-in-class quality products and services. We are dedicated to providing the best solutions and customer care that make a difference. We are an ISO 001:2015 certified full-service provider offering customization and value-added options, from structural foam molding to gas assist molding services. Our highly skilled team will work alongside our clients to produce the best quality products every time.

Want to know how DeKALB is paving the way for a more sustainable future? Contact us today to learn more.  

What Role does Resin Selection Play in Structural Foam?

Anyone who works in the plastics industry understands how vital a role resin selection plays in injection molding, and how important it is to pick the correct resin for the correct product application. When it comes to structural foam molding, resin selection no different – choosing the right resin is critical for success. The base resin is the most important material component in the product development process, and performance will be dependent on the correct selection. Clear expectations and specifications need to be identified to be able to select the correct resin.

When creating a structural foam molded product, one of the top priorities should be identifying the type of resin being used. Understanding what the finished product is going to be used for is a good first step to take – several properties must be evaluated before choosing the right type of resin, including:

  • Chemical resistance – material that can resist most types of chemicals, such as acetones, ketones, oils, minerals, and acetates
  • Weather/environmental resistance – material that can withstand heat, corrosion, and oxidation
  • Temperature range – material that can withstand a wide range of varying temperatures
  • Flame Retardant—material that is burn resistant
  • Impact Strength – the ability of a plastic to absorb energy during plastic deformation
  • Flexibility – ability to bend and move without breaking

Since different resins offer different properties, knowing what application the plastic product will be used for is essential when choosing the right resin. With many resin classes to choose from, we have the opportunity to customize each product for every application.

What Types of Resin can be Used in Structural Foam Molding?

Once the resin has been selected, it needs to be capable of being molded using the structural foam molding process. This resin also must be compatible with other additives, such as colorants, elastomers, impact modifiers, and Chemical Foaming Agents (CBA).

Some high-quality resin materials to choose from for structural foam molded products include:

  • HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)—low-cost, weatherproof, and good chemical resistance
  • PP (Polypropylene)—good heat and chemical resistance
  • PS (Polystyrene)—strong and rigid
  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)– good impact strength and rigidity
  • Polycarbonate – strong with good temperature range
  • PPO/PPE—excellent heat resistance and stability

The possibilities are endless when choosing a plastic resin for a particular structural foam molded component, but each resin should depend on what the structural foam molded part will be used for. The experts at DeKALB will help find the best type of resin for each structural foam molded component, no matter what the application.

The Structural Foam Process

Once the base resin and any additives have been selected, the molding process is ready to begin.  DeKALB focuses on low-pressure structural foam molding: during the molding process, the chosen resin mixes with a Chemical Blowing Agent (CBA) and/or nitrogen gas before being injected into the mold.  When injected, the combined material will create cells or bubbles on the inside of the molded part.  As the part cools, a solid resin layer forms against the mold, which will give it a solid exterior. The honeycomb structure of the molded part is rigid and strong, while at the same time making it lightweight and easier to move.

The DeKALB Difference

There are many benefits to utilizing structural foam molding to manufacture your components instead of other types of plastic injection molding. These benefits include:

  • Less energy waste – the structural foam molding process uses less energy per pound of plastic and uses less raw material overall
  • Increased performance – the structural nature of the resin in the component allows for better performance per pound.
  • Material variety – numerous types of resins can be used in structural foam molded products
  • Cost-efficiency – quality and easily-repeatable parts can be produced for less

DeKALB Molded Plastics is proud of the world-class quality reputation we have established in the structural foam molding industry. With a focus on continuous improvement, we achieve our high commitment to quality by adhering to clearly defined standards that help to control all process variables.

We have more than 40 years of experience serving our customers with high-quality structural foam molding services. With a wide range of capabilities in plastic processing and an experienced team of engineers, operators, and quality technicians, DeKALB Molded Plastics can handle any challenge.

Ready to see how DeKALB Molded Plastics can do for you? Click here to get your next project started.

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.

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.

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.