Dan Thurmond
By Dan Thurmond
Friday, September 26, 2014 - 00:00

Last year we posted a blog about quality systems and why they are important in plastics manufacturing. At Elite Plastics we work with customers in nearly every industry – including aerospace, sporting goods, automotive, medical, and more. Producing a high quality, defect-free part is the goal of every project but for some industries, like medical, it is more critical. Quality systems and inspection procedures ensure that our manufacturing practices are standardized and consistent, to result in defect-free products.

A great example of our stringent quality standards is our in-process inspection efforts. For many of our customers we produce a number of parts with post molding plastic decoration – this can include pad printing, laser etching, insert molding, etc. Since there are often many processes to produce one part, in-process inspection is utilized to prevent problems later in the process.

One of the most common examples of in-process inspection at Elite Plastics occurs right after parts are molded. Once molding is complete, operators verify that there are no issues. Many parts that feature plastic decoration are inspected multiple times while in-process. This ensures that parts going to the next step in the process are accurate, and that if there is a problem it won’t occur with parts in the future.

Beyond visual inspection, Elite Plastics has other in-process inspection procedures in place. For a number of our customers we utilize camera inspection, as well as a coordinate measuring machine that utilizes both optic technology and a touch “orb” for measurement. Stay tuned for our next blog discussing an in-process inspection process we developed for one of our large medical customers!

Chris Passanante
By Chris Passanante
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 00:00

Last week, to highlight Elite Plastics’ plastic machining technology, we introduced a plastic machined prototype part. One of the many benefits of plastic machining is that it allows us to have greater control over production quality and also make post injection molded modifications to parts. Secondary machining can include fine trimming and de-gating, taping holes, and more.

The plastic knob we produce as part of a larger assembly for a medical part that takes advantage of plastic machining. Abbot Vascular’s MitraClip is used for mitral valve repair procedures (heart surgery). Since this is a part used in a surgical environment, it’s critical that it functions flawlessly, with no quality issues. 

The clear knob is one of many parts to the assembly that are injection molded at Elite Plastics. From there our specialized machining capabilities were utilized to modify the part for its necessary function. Once molded, the knob is drilled creating four holes. Two of the holes create access to the center holes so the machines fourth axis can create the threads. This operation allows the knobs to be attached in the assembly without extra hardware.

Secondary machining is just one of the many benefits of Elite Plastics’ machining center. It is a great option for parts that need to be implemented with other tooling or hardware, as well as parts that may have two versions that are only slightly different. Utilizing machining can allow for design modifications without the need for an additional tool – saving both time and money!

By Chris Passanante
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 00:00

A while ago we posted two articles touching on the plastic machining capabilities of Elite Plastics - Plastic machining capabilities at Elite Plastics and Benefits of plastic Machining. Recently, our plastic machining capabilities have grown as we’ve upgraded equipment and expanded our capacity.

Plastic machining offers a number of valuable uses when manufacturing plastic parts. Machining can be utilized for secondary machining, taping holes, trimming and de-gating, prototyping, and it even can be used to fabricate full parts from one piece of plastic. Our plastic machining department is equipped with a state of the art vertical milling center with a fourth axis. It has a work capacity of 40” x 20” x 25” and a spindle speed of 12,000 RPM with a 1,400 RPM tool change. To ensure that the parts are free of contaminates, we use air instead of coolant.

Plastic machining is a very cost effective option when prototyping new parts. Since parts can be fabricated completely, it eliminates the need for costly tooling, and allows you to verify the part design and functionality before investing in a tool.

One great example of how our plastic machining capabilities can be utilized for prototyping projects is a connector panel we provided for a customer as a prototype. This connector panel was made from flame retardant plastic. The fabrication of this prototype started with a blank piece of plastic. All of the features are machined into the front and back within our machining center.  The panels were used to test fit and function for a new product, before developing tooling.

Stay tuned for another post discussing how secondary machining was utilized to create a custom solution for one of our medical customers!

By Dan Thurmond
Monday, August 11, 2014 - 15:36

  

As a custom plastics manufacturer, Elite Plastics has injection and compression molding capabilities, in addition to machining, insert molding and plastic decorating. One of the greatest advantages of working with Elite Plastics is the unique ability to provide complete decorated plastic components. When all of our capabilities come together, a truly “value-added” part is created and can be seen through our collaboration with Anritsu for their handheld field testing units.

Anritsu manufactures measuring instruments for a wide range of communication technologies. Elite Plastics supplies Anritsu with the plastic housing and components for various configurations of their handheld systems, including their Spectrum Analyzer, Cable, and Antenna Analyzer.

The housing of these units is a clamshell-style injection molded plastic part that features various plastic decorating and assembly capabilities. Some of the more unique capabilities include thermally inserted brass components and vacuum shielding installed by Elite Plastics. A rubber keypad bezel was also supplied and assembled on the unit in addition to an overmolded turn dial button (in some models). The keypad bezel is molded clear plastic and spray painted to match the color of the housing.  For added durability and ruggedness, the housing also features overmolded bumpers on the sides or top and bottom of the unit in various colors (depending on the model). In addition, our San Jose division supplies a plastic nameplate for the units.

The plastic housing assemblies for Anritsu are a great example of Elite Plastics’ diverse decorating and molding capabilities, and demonstrate how technology and services can fulfill multiple manufacturing needs. The final assembly for Anritsu met all the technical and aesthetic needs, while also consolidating and simplifying the customer’s supply chain.

By Chris Passanante
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 11:25

Plastic and elastomer components often go through at least one decorating stage before they are considered complete.  Elite Plastics offers a variety of value-added processes which allow for additional functionality and decoration.  Overmolding is a molding process in which rubberized plastic is formed over existing plastic. This process takes multiple materials with different properties and combines them into one molded component.  In order to overmold the plastic or metal substrate with thermoplastic elastomers, we use either multi-shot or insert molding.

The multi-shot molding process uses an injection molding press, which injects multiple materials in one operation. This allows the second and third shot to be molded in sequence immediately after the first shot has been molded.  Insert molding is a different method that allows for a product to be completely overmolded and requires two separate steps. The substrate is molded then transferred to another tool that shoots the thermoplastic elastomer directly over the substrate. The choice between insert molding and multi-shot molding depends on design and volume.

Overmolding is most often used for durability for the “ruggedization” of products.  It also can be a decorating method with multiple benefits, including increased aesthetics and functionality. This process can give the product a soft rubberized feel, making it much more comfortable to handle than hard plastic. It also enables hard edges to be smoothed over and rounded.  The main functionality benefit of overmolding is the ruggedized and non-slip surface, keeping products safe in extreme environments.  In many industries, such as the medical industry, it’s important to make sure the product won’t break when dropped.  The thermoplastic elastomer covering can help to reduce that likelihood.  Other benefits from overmolding include reducing unwanted vibrations or noise and an opportunity for additional brand identity.  

Overmolding is just one of many molding and decorating methods we offer at Elite Plastics.

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