ELLINGTON, Conn.—Dymotek Corp., a small custom molder focused on the demanding niche of liquid silicone molding, has a secret weapon: Its employees at two Connecticut factories, in Ellington and nearby Somers.
Running LSR is a challenge. The injection molding machines are generally similar to those used for the regular molding of thermoplastics, but in most other ways, LSR is the opposite. LSR is a liquid that gets pumped through a cooled nozzle and runner manifold, then gets heated inside the mold and cured to a thermoset.
Dymotek does two-shot molding of LSR and thermoplastics to make some parts. That's somewhat of a technological paradox, because thermoplastics go through a hot manifold and runners, to get cooled down in the mold; but for LSR, if the channels were hot, the LSR would start to cure before it got to the mold.
LSR also blends two components. It's not easy to master the molding: Liquid pumping and dosing controlled by precise mixing and metering. A chemical reaction that takes place inside precisely machined molds cut with tiny vents. Vacuum pumping.
But the result is a flexible and strong thermoset. Properties include good hardness, tensile strength and excellent compression set.
The technology has grown most rapidly in medical, and Dymotek serves that market, too. However, the Ellington-based molder has customers in diverse sectors, including plumbing, electronics, food and beverage, industrial, aviation and aerospace, automotive and telecommunications.
Together, Ellington and Somers run 27 injection molding machines with clamping forces ranging from 35-440 tons. That includes 18 Arburg presses—and a new 550-ton two-shot Arburg is coming later this year. (The other machines are Toyo and Nissei models.)
Finding skilled workers is a major challenge for U.S. manufacturing. LSR is so different that Victor Morando, chief technology officer, said people and training are even more important for Dymotek. The goal, he said, is "to have all the people in your company at that skill level. It's easy to have one or two technical people, or engineers that are knowledgeable, but when you're running around the clock, every single shift you have technical coverage to keep these molds running. So it's tough to get everybody up to speed. But it's been a big commitment of ours, and we've done it. We took the time in, to train everybody so they are very knowledgeable about the process and the equipment."
CEO Norm Forest said Dymotek does in-house training and employee development, coupled with outside education. How else can you build a strong workforce? "Let's face it, they're not gonna show up at the door," he said. "Or if we steal them, we're going to have to pay top dollar. And sometimes, the baggage that comes along with that isn't worth the effort."
Dymotek's extraordinary achievements in employee communication—and solid efforts to cultivate the next generation of plastics leaders—helped the company become the newest Processor of the Year. Plastics News presented officials of Dymotek with the award, and honored all the finalists March 29 at the newspaper's Executive Forum in Naples, Fla.
Dymotek was a finalist for last year's award, which was won by Evco Plastics Inc.
And underscoring the worker-involvement strength, Dymotek won the Plastics News Excellence Award for employee relations last year at the Executive Forum. The Hartford Courant has named Dymotek as one of Connecticut's Best Places to Work for the past three years. Plastics News also has given the firm a Best Places to Work designation.
So Dymotek scored well for the employee relations category, one of seven criteria for the award. The judges—who are Plastics News reporters and editors—also gave the company high marks for financial, quality, customer relations, technology, and industry and public service. On the environmental performance area, Dymotek is reviewing how it stands, to try to get ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.
'Nimble and agile'