Elkhart Plastics molds future
"The powder is put into the mold, and the mold is moved into the oven. The arm turns on two axes, round and round across the axes."
"As the powder begins to melt into a liquid form, it starts to adhere to the outside of the mold through that slow rotating process," Ermeti said. At a certain temperature it coats the inside of the mold.
"A bigger part takes longer," he added.
The process includes a cooling-off period after it is taken out of the oven, and sometimes water is added to it to aid in the cooling.
Sometimes there are secondary trim operations that are part of the process, and occasionally another part might be added, Ermeti said.
Both say working out in the plant is physical labor that can get plenty hot in the summer time.
"It's what I call a hard labor job," Ermeti said. "We've got ovens. The doors open every 14 to 26 minutes to a cycle. When they open up, it's 500-degree air coming out at you.
"In December that feels pretty good. In July it doesn't feel so good."
Some like it hot and get used to it, and stay with the company for 15 to 20 years. Others don't and move on after short stints.
Despite that kind of challenge, the company succeeds.
In fact, it's in the midst of a $750,000 expansion at its location at 3300 N. Kenmore St., South Bend, which will create about 20 new jobs.
A lot of its success has to do with customer service, Welter said.
"We focus on customer service and being there and solving their problems," Welter said. "We've invested pretty heavily in engineering capabilities and quality capabilities so that we're able to serve very large Fortune 500-type companies.
"That makes us better."
It also allows them to better serve smaller companies, too, Welter said.
It helps that the company's inner core is solid, too.
In a way, Ermeti said, people on the inside of the plant are treated the same as people on the outside. The management team is responsive to workers and customers alike, he stressed.
"We are a very highly responsive group," Ermeti said. "When a customer has an issue, they can make a call and we get it answered immediately.