Canadian Plastics

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As one of western Canada's original molders for the high-tech sector, Comptec International Ltd. owes its success and longevity to its ability to anticipate change and successfully define and capitali...

June 1, 2000   Canadian Plastics



As one of western Canada’s original molders for the high-tech sector, Comptec International Ltd. owes its success and longevity to its ability to anticipate change and successfully define and capitalize on its core capabilities. It has transformed itself from a custom molder dedicated mainly to the electronics/telecommunications industry, to a full-service company supplying a more balanced mix of markets, including a higher amount of automotive work. It no longer defines itself as a specialist for any one market, but more broadly as a manufacturer of decorated, multi-shot and/ or multi-material cosmetic parts.

“Our core competencies are built on our technical strength on the floor, engineering depth and full process design and part design,” says Derek Service, vice-president and general manager. “There are not too many companies that have as wide a range of capabilities as we.”

The company completed construction of a 50,000 sq. ft. plant expansion last year to give it a total of 70,000 sq. ft. floor space at its Surrey, B.C manufacturing facility. Service says the addition allowed the company to reconfigure equipment and plant layout to run more efficiently; at the same time provided room for future expansion. There are about 40 injection presses ranging from 28- to 400-tons of clamping force at the Surrey facility. Additionally, Comptec has a 30,000 sq. ft. facility with 15 presses located in Custer, WA. Service says the expansion together with their traditional core expertise puts the company in a position to pursue significant product development work with customers in the electronics, automotive, computer, medical and other markets.

“We’ve traditionally kept a pretty low profile as a company,” Service notes. “Now we’re looking at some fairly aggressive growth plans over the next five years.”

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One of Comptec’s long-established market strengths has been in the molding, printing and assembly of electronic keyboards for computers and other instruments. It developed an automated “sublimation” printing process in house for decorating keypads, buttons and other components. In the process, ink is applied to paper sheets. Characters are then permanently transferred to each key as an abrasion resistant, penetrated print.

Service says they have been successful in applying the same set of capabilities they have used in the manufacture of electronics products to a wider market. Those process capabilities include insert molding, multi-shot, multi-material molding, over-molding and formed applique.

Comptec sent people to Bayer’s technical center in Pittsburg to develop specific applications for the formed applique process. A partner supplies Comptec with polycarbonate film which has been screen printed with all the decorative effects. The film is vacuum formed, die-cut and placed in a mold with up to four cavities, where it injection back-filled with plastic, usually polycarbonate. Comptec runs the applique process in a clean room on a press fully integrated with robotics. Applications include multi-color and backlit cosmetic components with complex 3-D surfaces.

One example of a frequent automotive application is a two-shot, overmolded car interior knob. The knob has a polycarbonate core and an outer skin of TPE.

While it is looking to increase the amount of its automotive business, especially in the area of cosmetic parts of dashboard assemblies, Service says the company is by no means giving up on its traditional markets.

“There’s been a tremendous upheaval in the Canadian telecommunications market with so much work going to Mexico. But we still have customers and significant business opportunities in this area.”CPL


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