As a leader in the thermoset composite industry, Mar-Bal creates customized thermoset materials and parts to help solve complex problems. This is not an easy or quick job. Dave Phillips, the Lead Engineer of Custom Products at Mar-Bal, explains the process from start to finish.
The very first step is for product designers to find the best solution and the best option for them to produce to provide a solution. However, product designers do not typically have mold-building experience, so Dave’s role is vital in bringing solutions to life.
Together, the product designers and Dave work together and combine their unique areas of expertise to ensure the thermoset composite materials and other products include critical features like strength and heat resistance, for example.
Next, the part is designed and this is a critical stage of the process. This is when the number of components is figured out, and the best parts use the fewest number of components possible. This is also the stage where the cost of labor and production is assessed, as well as any alternative options.
Then the quoting, drafting, and building begins. In this stage, the experts at Mar-Bal determine how many cavities a piece should have, the features, and the functions of the mold. For example, Mar-Bal manufactures thermoset composite materials and BMC injection and compression molds, which provide us with things like oven door handles, control panel covers for appliances, circuit breakers inside our homes, and the headlamps and chrome reflectors in our car lights. Each one of those items has very specific qualifications, particularly with regard to how much temperature it can withstand. Therefore, in this stage, matching the function with the mold and uses of the part is essential.
On average, it takes about 6-8 days to quote a mold. After the mold is quoted, Mar-Bal and the customer spend about 3-4 months finalizing and preparing to actually shoot the mold. The overall timeline for a customized thermoset plastic product is about one year, depending on the complexity of the part, the tooling source, and the schedule that a customer is trying to meet.
Mar-Bal works closely with customers to test the quality and requirements of all solutions. Large transportation companies, for instance, use a lot of composites on mining equipment. The composites are used to create covers on equipment to prevent leakage or seal batteries. Only through testing can the durability of the Mar-Bal composite be tested. If changes are needed, Mar-Bal’s experts rise to the challenge to ensure that the part solves the issue.