BIDDEFORD, Maine—Cri-Sil Silicone Technologies L.L.C. has expanded its capabilities in the last year, adding five new pieces of equipment and a new ERP software system.
The Biddeford-based firm said it spent about $500,000 on the new additions, two of which will help its manufacturing ability with the other three pieces strengthening its lab capabilities.
The additions to the manufacturing floor included a 48-inch, two-roll mixer and a new planetary mixer—both used to accommodate smaller custom jobs. The two-roll mixer can accommodate runs ranging from five to 150 pounds, Executive Vice President Mark Stevens said.
“We use that quite a bit for small jobs,” Stevens said. “The majority of our customers are buying in 500 pound-plus orders. This smaller mill allows us to very quickly move these smaller batches and doesn't interfere with the larger mills that are turning out thousands of pounds.”
The planetary mixer was the firm's most recent acquisition, which accompanies another in-house planetary mixer that can mix up to 1,500 pounds, Stevens said. Like the new two-roll mixer, Cri-Sil's new planetary mixer was purchased to accommodate smaller runs, down to about 300 pounds.
Stevens said the firm's planetary mixers are used to accommodate its strand sealants and water block compounds in the wire and cable industry, with a focus on military and shipboard applications. The firm also said it serves the aerospace, oil field and deep sea industries with that mixer.
“We just found the need for smaller batch sizes and smaller runs,” Stevens said. “That piece of equipment is fulfilling that, and it just came online in the last month or so.”
The firm enhanced its laboratory capabilities with three purchases. It added a new burn chamber to test for flame resistance, a compression deflection to test sponge—which Stevens said was a growing need in the industry—and a color spectrometer to ensure color consistency from batch to batch, Cri-Sil said.
Stevens said the firm recognized about three years ago the need to have silicone sponges in molding and extrusion and decided to bring testing in-house after developing materials and establishing a customer base.
“Everything we can do in production we can do in the lab as well,” Stevens said. “That's really what we use for scale up. Really just about anything that our customers need, we can handle it in-house.”
Cri-Sil said it's experienced a 10 percent expansion in employment, and its work force now consists of about 35 people at its 33,000-sq.-ft. facility in Biddeford. The firm does about $10 million in sales and said it forecasts anywhere from 7 to 10 percent growth for 2015 and 2016.
The firm just celebrated its 20th anniversary, founded in 1994 by Mike Hirschy and Stevens' father, Mark Stevens Sr. Cri-Sil focuses on custom silicone solutions, dealing mainly with high consistency rubbers, liquid silicone rubber and RTVs in a variety of industries.
“We're very diversified, we don't concentrate on one particular market,” Stevens said. “We try to stay diverse to insulate us from market swings.”