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3/27/2003

United in growth

By Pam Mellskog
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Since the mid-1990s, Nypro Colorado operated out of two locations on the 800 block of South Lincoln Street.

But with business doubling during the past 18 months, the plastic injection molding and assembly operations are slowly coming together under one roof, according to Russ Steele, Nypro Colorado’s general manager.

By July, the move will unite the approximately 140-member workforce, Steele said. The 30,000-square-foot building on 1801 Iron Horse Drive will double production area while significantly improving safety and efficiency.

“We won’t have forklift traffic in the manufacturing area at all,” Steele said.

Instead, the open floor with high ceilings includes two overhead tracks to guide the equipment needed to lift the heavy, steel molding plates below.

Nypro Colorado specializes in producing automotive parts, Steele said. Sixty-five percent of production is devoted to plastic components such as flanges for automobile gasoline lines and ignition housings. Medical devices represent another 25 percent of its business, and electronics-related parts make up the remaining 10 percent.

Many of the 25 pieces soon to be produced at the new plant already require less than a minute of production time. However, the overhead crane and other robotic technology will bolster efficiency across parts created for each of those industries by shaving time off the cycle required to pour, form and cool each piece, according to Dan Danowski, Nypro’s automotive technical director.

For instance, the overhead crane feature along with new robotic technology will allow Nypro to manufacture 45,000 electronic connector components a day versus 35,000, Danowski said.

During the past year, nine machines have been humming 24/7 at the new plant with a total of 19 production machines intended for set up by midsummer.

The process begins, Danowski said, by heating Tic Tac-sized plastic pellets to 525 degrees Fahrenheit and then injecting them into molds provided by the client.

On the automotive side of the business, he explained, contractors such as the Detroit-based Visteon and Delphi, along with the French company Valeo, acquire proprietary molds from Ford and General Motors. Those companies then subcontract Nypro to inject the plastic.

Water hoses run into the mold to quickly cool both the plastic and the steel before they emerge as the hard parts found under the hoods of vehicles around the world.

“The outside plastics markets are not booming,” Steele said. “But our market share is continuing to increase. ... All of our new automotive work is new business for the Colorado economy.”

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 224, or by e-mail at pmellskog@times-call.com.