Out of the gate, swiftly
By Michael Legault
Operating from 30,000 sq. ft. of facilities, Bartlett Plastics is a full-service, custom injection molding shop that has doubled its business and grown from nine to 40 employees in less than two years...
Operating from 30,000 sq. ft. of facilities, Bartlett Plastics is a full-service, custom injection molding shop that has doubled its business and grown from nine to 40 employees in less than two years.
It is also a molder with a laser metal cutting operation. The laser, which cost approximately one-million dollars, is used to make precision metal parts for the aerospace and other industries and has become a core part of the company’s business.
“The advantage of laser cutting is that it eliminates the need for expensive dies,” says vice-president of manufacturing Todd Langille. The technology is ideal for producing low- to medium-volume parts which require tight tolerances. It is capable of cutting a variety of metallic materials, from ultra-thin sheet to 3/4 in. thick steel plate. Once set-up, the machine can run unattended and the parts produced do not need de-burring.
At present one of the machine’s higher volume applications is steel plates going into rectifiers for giant coal scrubbing units. Each rectifier measures 15 ft. x 7 ft. x 10 in. The units are being installed at U.S. power plants in order to meet new air quality standards going into effect next year.
Langille says Bartlett is one of the few companies in Atlantic Canada with a laser-cutting machine. He says customers for metal cutting are located almost entirely in the Northeastern U.S. and that the company is hoping to use its presence in the U.S. as a base to expand its plastics business.
Bartlett Plastics was born two years ago when a company purchased Canadian Automotive Radiator, a manufacturer of automotive reservoir systems. Barry Bartlett, ex-owner of Canadian Automotive Radrator, took three injection molding machines with him and formed the new company bearing his name. Presently there are six Mitsubishi injection molding machines, ranging from 90 to 610 tons, at the Truro, N.S. facility, located directly off the Trans Canada Highway, about 45 minutes from Halifax. Langille says the recently acquired 610 ton press rounds out their tonnage line and gives them the capability to mold larger parts such as milk crates, electronics housings and others. The company molds parts almost exclusively from engineering resins and, according to Langille, “has dealt with every exotic resin out there.”
One of the company’s larger volumes of business is bobbins and other electronic components molded from polyester. It also molds a number of parts for Airbus and other suppliers to the aerospace companies. Langille says the aerospace industry has stringent quality control and documentation requirements.
Additionally, the company has partnered with several entrepreneurs in the development of proprietary products. One such product is an hypodermic needle guide made of polycarbonate. The device, which limits the depth of penetration of a needle, was devised for sight-impaired diabetes patients who must give themselves insulin shots. Langille believes the product may eventually be used by any person who needs to give themselves or others an injection.
Bartlett has also worked with an individual in the design and development of a carrying rack that can be used to support loads such as pipe or lumber during transportation.
The facility has a fully-equipped QC lab and is registered to ISO 9002. It also has CAD/CAM expertise, a toolroom with an EDM and two CNC milling machines and prototyping capability.
With full-service, and a little extra, under one roof, Bartlett Plastics seems to have hit on a formula for success, proving that a small plastics processor in Atlantic Canada can be a player in world markets.