ST. LOUIS—Custom injection molder MDS Manufacturing L.L.C. has invested $700,000 to expand its liquid silicone rubber production capacity for infant care products.
The St. Louis company recently started up a new Engel Victory 200/100 Hy-tech machine with auxiliaries. The new press is MDS's seventh Engel machine dedicated to LSR molding.
“We needed the new press to expand current business in infant care,” MDS Co-Owner Dave Skaggs said.
MDS continues its growth arc in LSR, a niche business it has carved out in the Midwest. LSR work has helped fuel MDS's 800 percent sales growth in six years since the company was founded by brothers Dave and Mike Skaggs. Sales are now surpassing the $8 million per year mark. MDS entered LSR molding in 2013.
MDS said it has cut delivery time by reshoring production from China. Delivery times for customers have been cut from six months down to six weeks.
That means that customers that once sourced 1 million parts per month from China now are buying 3.5 million parts per month from MDS. The faster delivery time, along with consistent quality, has helped fuel growth, according to the company.
In addition to the LSR-oriented Engels on its floor, MDS also runs eight regular thermoplastic injection presses and three injection stretch blow machines making baby bottles. In addition to baby bottle components, MDS uses LSR for breast pump parts, baby nipples and pacifiers and overmolded plates and cutlery. Other key markets are medical, lawn and garden and recreational products. Dave Skaggs said MDS employs 33 and also runs a tool building shop.
The new Engel press is a 100-tonner with Eco-drive for energy savings and a servo-actuated hydraulic valve for closed loop control on the injection unit. Other Engel press features also convinced MDS to stick with the press supplier.
“This Engel hybrid model provides the tie bar-less features that we like—easy access to the mold area and quick mold changes,” Dave Skaggs said. “We are constantly changing mold cores, and the open work area of the tie-barless machine makes the job quick and easy.”
Engel Project Engineer Steve Broadbent indicated that his company's experience in LSR molding has helped support MDS's growth.
“Dave and his team chose their suppliers based on their level of expertise in LSR molding, not cost, and were willing to pay a higher price, when necessary, to work with these leaders,” Broadbent said in a news release.
Mirocke Sales Corp. of Shawnee, Kan., handled the sale to MDS.
Dave Skaggs said his company is planning for more growth and is negotiating for an existing facility in the St. Louis area. Its current plant has 27,500 square feet of space. MDS plans to open another factory sized between 60,000 and 90,000 square feet. The new operation will support MDS's sales in the medical sector and allow it to mold products the company is designing.