Custom Injection Molder Converts Metal Parts to Plastic
When converting expensive metal parts to less expensive plastic parts, many considerations need to be reviewed. Most notable is the question of whether the plastic part will have the same look and functionality as its metal counterpart. Mira Plastics (www.miraplastics.com), a custom injection molding company, has many examples of parts it has created in plastic that were formerly molded or machined in metal. In one instance, an OEM approached the molder with a metal part that was no longer cost effective. The customer concerned was not only concerned about cost, but about whether a plastic material would be able to maintain the part's fine details and modern, high-end look.
Mira Plastics successfully helped the OEM turn the metal part into plastic without sacrificing any of the necessary requirements, and at a reduced cost. "If the part is a suitable candidate to be converted, we'll certainly pursue it," says Anthony P. Miragliotta, the company's vice president. "A lot of it has to do with how the tooling is built, and on the other side are material selection and the processing techniques. We're not trying to replicate the metal properties. It's just producing a metal part in plastic, so it doesn't have to be as strong as the metal part. It may not be as strong as metal, but the plastic part is more than sufficient. It could be any number of different types of plastics that we use for this."
Mira Plastics has been in business for 55 years, and handles design, prototyping, custom injection molding, and light assembly, as well as heat transfer decals, hot stamping, and ultrasonic welding. Over the years, the company has produced high-precision parts and components for the industrial, commercial, cosmetics, electronics, housewares, and food and beverage industries.
Another area that sets the injection molding company in good stead with customers is its large assemblage of molding machines, 18 in all. Machines vary in size from a 60-ton machine with a 6-ounce shot for small parts, to a large 1250-ton machine that can handle a 265-ounce shot of material. Seven of the machines have recently been automated with robotic arms for part removal. "The pick-and-place servo robots replace the need for an operator to manually remove a part," Anthony explains. "They can get much more sophisticated than this, but this is how we use them. They save us a lot of time because the machine can run in a fully-automatic mode, and that gives us added repeatability."
With masses of molding equipment, 20 employees, and a 62,000 square foot plant, Mira Plastics is able to service a numerous industries with a variety of engineered thermoplastics, polyolefins, styrenes, thermoplastic elastomers, and high-temperature plastics. "We need to know the end use of the product and the requirements of the product, and then we can match the requirements with a suitable material," says Anthony. "Sometimes when we do this, we need to make changes to the tooling. But it's okay, as long as we can do it in the beginning. But if it has already been built, there are instances where we can make minor adjustments."
Another value-added plus that sets Mira Plastics apart from many modern contract manufacturers is its policy of using old fashioned, one-on-one customer service whenever possible. "In customer service, when a potential customer is calling us, they will be speaking directly with someone," says Tina Miragliotta, the company's treasurer. "It's not voicemail or a sales person when it regards a product to be made. They will usually speak to Anthony P., or Anthony Sr., who are also part of the engineering and manufacturing departments. So they're not just answering from a sales point of view, but also from a technical and design point of view.
Since the company handles diverse projects almost daily, a high level of flexibility and exacting customization are imperative. "Every client has particular needs and end uses, so we have to be very flexible with all of them," says Tina. "And we have to be very honest with every one of them to determine if a job can be accomplished. If it's not possible, it's best just to say that. It's not in anyone's best interest to take on a job, if it's not possible to bring it to completion on time. And good communication is very important in this regard, not only with our customers, but also our designers, tool makers, and setup personnel."
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