Volume 11 | Issue 6 | Year 2008

Polymer Plainfield companies came about through the merger of production powerhouses. The precedent companies were Polymer Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada and Plainfield Companies Inc. of Plainfield, Ill., which merged in October 2006. In June 2007, Polymer Plainfield Companies completed the acquisition of Pixley Richards Inc. of Plymouth, Mass., to complete the trifecta.
“We were all competitors before the merger and acquisition and now we are all one big team,” says Kristi Rimmer, business development manager. She notes that the companies’ customer bases hardly overlapped, making the synthesis a happy one.

The result is a far-reaching, multi-capable company that continues to progress in its segments. Polymer Plainfield Companies is a diverse TS16949-certified manufacturing company with nine operating divisions in five countries and more than 600 employees in Canada, the United States, Mexico, China and the Dominican Republic. Polymer Plainfield Companies serves a global list of 100 customers in automotive, medical, electronics, industrial products, and consumer products applications, and the military. Key capabilities include insert, two-shot, precision and reel-to-reel molding, metal stamping, multi-slide components, pin forming, coil winding and assembly.

EXTRAORDINARY RANGE OF CAPABILITIES
Polymer Technologies Inc. is one of three Polymer Plainfield Companies’ key technical, engineering and research and development centers, offering full service molding, coil winding, stamping and assembly capabilities. In addition to a full-service metrology laboratory, Polymer Technologies Inc. boasts a 45,000-square-foot modern molding production area and a 10,000-square-foot, full-service in-house tool shop with mold, die and automation build capabilities. Strategically located one hour west of Toronto and three hours east of Detroit, Polymer Technologies Inc. is ideally suited to service automotive customers in the Toronto to Windsor corridor. As a result, the Cambridge, Ontario facility is largely automotive focused.

“We do a lot of hidden parts. There’s no glory in them; they are engineered components of the vehicle,” explains Director of Engineering Roger Stanbury. Hidden inside our cars are things the company makes – parts used in power assist applications, door lock actuator components, door hinge components, airbag components, seat switch substrates, and wiper motors. “We do make some cosmetic parts – seat belt trim , and switch components such as window switch buttons and housings that are visible but most of our parts are the engineered components that nobody sees.”

“We are also working on newer technologies,” adds Stanbury. “We build parts for hybrid vehicles and some other technologies that you see on research items on new automotive systems.”

Polymer Plainfield Companies’ first and foremost specializes in insert molding and stamping with multi-national facilities that make the group a competitive supplier of electro-mechanical insert molded products. With three dedicated stamping facilities in North America, the companies produce metal contacts and terminals from many different types of metals and ranges of plating finishes. Polymer Plainfield Companies uses only engineered resins to provide strength and durability consistent with customers’ performance requirements. Rotary molding, reel-to-reel and coil-to-box processes manufacture products of the highest quality in a costeffective and time-efficient manner.

The current range of insert molded components includes: dip switches, sensors, custom connectors, power window substrates, power seat substrates, actuators, multi-function switches, motor housings and dampening mechanisms for engine systems.

Two-shot molding is a specialized capability where the companies also excel, providing a low-cost, performance-driven solution for high-volume programs traditionally supported by plastic-on-plastic insert molding. The two-shot process combines two molding machines into one, injecting two resins into the tools in sequence. This process eliminates work in process inventory and direct labor content, while improving process reliability and consistency. Two-shot products include functional components such as covers with integrated gaskets as well as functional cosmetic parts such as buttons and knobs that incorporate complex graphics for reverse illuminated switches.

In addition to these two highly specialized capabilities, the companies are able to combine them into one, resulting in an insert and two-shot molding specialty, a truly unusual offering.

Stamping and multi-slide production are also fortes. Polymer Plainfield Companies has three dedicated stamping facilities strategically located across the United States to support internal molding divisions and external customer requirements. The design and engineering teams work with customers on both design for manufacturability and design for assembly. Tooling can then be built internally or sourced globally depending upon customer requirements and program lead times.

ADDITIONAL ADVANCED PRODUCTION
MuCell® molding (microcellular molding) provides cost-effective solutions to difficult traditional molding problems. The facilities support both horizontal and vertical equipment for MuCell molding. A long history of development utilizing MuCell® technology allows the companies to offer this advanced foam molding technology. Unlike traditional injection foam molding, MuCell maintains the properties of conventional molded parts while benefiting from the reduced weight and improved stability of MuCell processed parts. Most engineering and filled polymers are able to be processed without significant compromise to performance or durability. The added benefits achieved are greater stability, less built-in stress and a resultant reduction in warp and distortion. With vertical MuCell molding capabilities, complex insert molded parts using delicate traces and difficult fill patterns can typically be achieved with less scrap and better control. In straight molding applications, reduced weight, faster cycles and less distortion result in better product quality and cost.

As with other engineered processes Polymer Plainfield Companies is available early in the development cycle to advise customers on incorporating MuCell processes into their products. The customer’s existing tooling frequently can be utilized to demonstrate the superiority of a MuCell processed part.

Polymer Plainfield Companies’ most recent capability enhancement has been the effective coupling of coil winding technology and lean production processes with industry expertise and full-scale production support capabilities, including injection, insert, reel to reel, two-shot and precision molding, metal stamping, multi-slide, and assembly. Coil winding capabilities include high-tech and production oriented coil design, the latest winding technology, various connection techniques, welding, soldering, insulation displacement terminals, flexible system concepts, and fine wire coil winding.

“Around merger time [2006] we had a supplier that had coil winding capability and they decided to move out of the country,” Rimmer reflects. “We didn’t know what we were going to do because we were losing a supplier with a unique capability. So we built a business case to bring it inside and offer that to our customers as well.”

Parts assembly rounds out the companies’ offerings. Depending upon volume, complexity, and in-line testing requirements, both manual and automated assembly techniques are used in production facilities. The companies also pride themselves in support capabilities including engineering, quality control, tool room and automation.

PILGRIM SPIRIT IN GLOBAL OPERATIONS
In the U.S., molding operations are run in Illinois including a flagship, state-of-the-art, 98,000-square-foot technical and production facility located 40 miles southwest of Chicago. Plainfield Molding Illinois services customers throughout the United States and Mexico with its cutting-edge molding and assembly capabilities. In addition to a full-service metrology laboratory, Plainfield Molding Illinois has on-site tool repair, maintenance and engineering change support services.

The group also runs a stamping operation in Illinois. Plainfield Stamping Illinois services both external customers and internal molding divisions with precision metal stampings and progressive die build capabilities. Stamping operations feature the latest high-speed equipment with large bed sizes, in-die process monitoring and secondary assembly capabilities. Corporate engineering and stamping teams work collectively to ensure the shortest possible response times and the development of innovative manufacturing techniques to minimize cost and ensure product and process quality.

Polymer Plainfield Companies has a TS 16949 certified, 60,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse in Plymouth, Mass., operating under Plainfield Pixley Richards that serves as a key technical/development center.

Production also takes place in other countries including Mexico and China. “With the global market, customers want to be supplied locally so our Mexican facility is mostly supplying Mexican customers and the Chinese facility supplies Chinese customers. You have to be in the marketplace you are serving,” says Stanbury.