BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Kismet Rubber Products Corp. is expanding and diversifying its operation with the addition of two production lines.
It also has developed a new rubber compound that the firm anticipates will give it a significant presence in the transit industry.
Kismet added a continuous cure salt bath line, increasing its ability to cure rubber parts in line, according to Thomas Fitzhenry, president and chief operating officer of the company.
Its new rubber production line is now operational, he said, and three employees are being added, increasing the company's work force to 35. Two more employees likely will be added in the first quarter of 2016.
Previously, continuous curing only could be achieved by using the firm's microwave and hot air vulcanizing lines. The company also has five conventional steam cure vulcanizing production lines.
Kismet's salt bath curing system allows it to provide continuous cure of larger cross sections, closed cell sponge and colored materials, which could not be produced using the old system, Fitzhenry said.
Some continuous cure requirements, size wise, didn't fit in the microwave, he explained. “In addition, you can't utilize the microwave continuous process unless a part contains carbon black.
“The salt line can be utilized to continuous cure white and all special colors that our customers specify.”
On the plastics and thermoplastic elastomer side of its business, the firm has added an extrusion line, which will allow it to meet customers' requirements for TPE and flexible PVC, extruded profiles, tubing and cord.
“The plastic line was added to accommodate a number of new and current customers who would prefer to have their rubber, silicone and plastic extrusions all produced by one vendor,” Fitzhenry said. “We are fortunate to have personnel who have plastic extrusion knowledge. Therefore, we only had to purchase the equipment.”
An ISO 9001-2008 certified extruder, Kismet had no difficulty adding the two lines at its 100,000-sq.-ft. facility, he said, because the plant had space available. The company extrudes EPDM, chloroprene, nitrile, silicone, fluorosilicone, fluoroelastomer, TPE and flexible PVC.
In addition to extruded profiles, tubing, cord and lathe cut washers, the Blue Ridge-based company specializes in secondary operations—such as lathe cutting, extruded and vulcanized endless gaskets and four corner window style gaskets with molded or injection molded corners. All are in demand, he said.
Kismet also is geared to handle small and long runs at a profit, due to its diverse mix of equipment.
Fitzhenry said that adding the two lines will increase the company's versatility and allow it to go after other markets that require larger profiles, which must be talc free and supplied in continuous lengths.
“We were not able to accommodate those jobs in the past with our smaller opening on the microwave or by utilizing our conventional steam curing system,” he said. “We will never drop the conventional steam cure of hot air vulcanizing lines, as they are adequate for many applications.”
On the new product front, the company has developed a 60 durometer rubber compound to meet the transit industry's requirements of smoke, flame and toxicity. Fitzhenry said the compound has been tested and meets all of the needed ASTM requirements. He maintained that the transit industry has been under served by rubber companies, but he's confident Kismet will become a major player in the market.
Kismet's sales have increased 300 percent in the last 10 years, he said, adding that the company is now poised to increase sales by double digits in each of the next two years. That's based on a number of long-term projects that it recently booked.
He attributed the firm's consistent improvement to quality products, competitive prices, excellent customer service, the ability to offer design assistance and 95 percent on-time delivery. Fitzhenry said a number of Kismet's competitors are not interested in providing the services the firm offers, giving the company an advantage.