Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology Has Arrived at Nicolet Plastics

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Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology Has Arrived at Nicolet Plastics

MOUNTAIN, Wisconsin — Innovation meets manufacturing as Nicolet Plastics LLC welcomes the cutting-edge Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology to their facility. This exciting addition promises to revolutionize production processes and open new horizons for the prototype and tooling industry.

Nicolet Plastics, a custom plastic injection molding manufacturer, has taken a significant leap into the future with the introduction of Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology to its Mountain, Wisconsin location.

Mantle 3D Metal Printing is known for its speed, precision, and the ability to produce intricate designs with unprecedented efficiency. It’s a technology that has been capturing the attention of manufacturers worldwide due to its potential to reduce lead times, enhance product quality, and enable complex geometries that were previously challenging or impossible to achieve.

This new development underscores Nicolet Plastics’ commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation in the industry. The addition of Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology will enable them to offer advanced tooling solutions to their customers.

“We’re thrilled to add Mantle 3D Metal Printing to our capabilities,” said Brian Torres, Chief Commercial Officer of Nicolet Plastics. “This technology aligns perfectly with our mission to provide high-quality, value-driven solutions to our valued customers. It’s a game-changer that allows us to deliver even better results while maintaining our signature commitment to speed, adaptability, and flexibility. Production tooling in prototype timing.”

The applications of Mantle 3D Metal Printing extend to a wide range of industries, from aerospace and industrial to medical and beyond. With its arrival at Nicolet Plastics, clients can expect faster turnaround times for tooling.

The future of manufacturing has indeed arrived in Mountain, Wisconsin, and Nicolet Plastics is at the forefront of this exciting transformation. With Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology now in their arsenal, they are well-prepared to usher in a new era of innovation and excellence in the plastic injection molding industry.

For more information about Mantle 3D Metal Printing Technology and Nicolet Plastics’ capabilities, visit Mantle 3D’s official website and Nicolet Plastics.

Contact:

Nicolet Plastics LLC
Address: 16685 WI-32, Mountain, WI 54149
Phone: 715-276-4200
Email: sales@nicoletplastics.com

Looking Ahead to 2023: Editorial Feature

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In Plastics Business’ 2023 article, Nicolet Plastics’ Tony Cavalco was featured with his thoughts about the road ahead for plastics manufacturers and specifically Nicolet Plastics:

Tony Cavalco, CEO of Nicolet Plastics LLC, reported a blend of sentiments. “We are a family-owned business and have been able to invest heavily in our people, equipment and facilities to allow us to meet our existing and new customer requirements,” said Cavalco. “Supply chain issues have stabilized, which is helping us be more proactive in the business. We are seeing a slowdown with several of our customers, but fortunately, we have a significant backlog of new tools coming into production. The key for 2023 will be leveraging our ability to bring new programs into production while balancing the shorter production runs based on reduced demand from some existing accounts. Our focus is on becoming more efficient from a labor standpoint, and to improve our machine utilization to make sure we reduce the impact of a slowdown.”

Part of Nicolet’s outlook can be credited to well-timed strategic planning. “We had started working on strategies to improve our response times to inquiries before COVID,” said Cavalco. “Once COVID hit in March of 2020, we needed to make decisions quickly and pivot our production to the few products that were in high demand. This quick response to opportunities helped Nicolet Plastics not only retain our main customers but helped us win significant new business with both existing accounts and new accounts.” 

>Read all of what the industry experts had to say at this link.

Nicolet also has invested in meaningful growth. The Wisconsin-based company has acquired a 60,000 sq. ft. building in Ripon, Wisconsin. “We have [already] made significant improvements to prepare this facility for future expansion. Our new building will allow us to nearly double our revenue organically, so we have plenty of space for expansion of our custom injection molding business,” said Cavalco.

The new building will integrate into Nicolet’s strategic use of its existing facilities in Mountain and Jackson, Wisconsin. “Our biggest opportunities for 2023, are based on several large new programs with new customers coupled with being awarded new programs with long-term customers,” said Cavalco. We leverage the capabilities of our two facilities, with our Mountain facility being very short- to medium-run, and our Jackson facility being medium- to long-run. We are implementing productivity improvement programs to optimize our changeover times and improve our secondary operations in our Assembly department. We have significantly increased the number of robots in our facility and will be adding additional automation this year.”

Growth and expansion are central to Nicolet’s five-year plan. “Our focus for the next five years will be on three main initiatives: Growth of our existing business, an investment in a Mantle 3D Manufacturing System to expand our tool room capabilities and we continue to explore strategic acquisitions to help us expand into new markets,” said Cavalco.

Hiring Event Tour at Nicolet Plastics Jackson, WI

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Nicolet Plastics will hold a hiring event at its Jackson, WI facility on Wednesday, April 6th from 7:00am to 6:00pm. There will be tours, interviews, and on-the-spot job offers for our immediate openings:

  • Production Operators
  • Team Leader
  • Quality Technician
  • Youth Apprenticeships

Event Flyer (PDF)

Date, Time & Location:

APR. 06. 2022
7:00AM – 6:00PM

N174W21430 Alcan Drive
Jackson, WI 53037

Video: Working at Nicolet Plastics

Nicolet plastics careers

Coronavirus Update

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March 18, 2020

To our Valued Customers,

In response to the expanding global disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19, Nicolet Plastics is constantly monitoring the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as we strive to help protect our customers and employees alike.

Both our Health, Safety, and Security, and program management teams have been continuously assessing and reassessing risk at both our Mountain and Jackson locations. We are also providing our employees with facts and training about COVID-19 and reminding them to follow simple but effective steps to keep them safe with frequent handwashing and social distancing outside of the workplace. In addition, we have been encouraging work from home if possible and staying at home if not feeling well.

At this time, Nicolet Plastics would like to inform you that we are currently not experiencing any delays in our supply base or our operations that will affect your orders going out. If this should change for any reason, we will be in contact with you. If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your sales or account manager.

In these unprecedented, challenging days, we will do our very best to continue to provide our customers and employees with the highest level of safety, support, and stability. This global pandemic, as stressful as it is to every one of us, also reminds us of the importance of being able to collaborate and work together as a global community to meet our biggest challenges.

Sincerely,

Tony Cavalco

CEO, Nicolet Plastics LLC

Save the Date for the 16th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run

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The 16th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run is almost upon us! Have you started your training yet? The Annual Nicolet Walk/Run is a 4.37 mile excursion around beautiful Maiden Lake in Mountain, WI. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 15th, 2019 beginning at 9:00 AM.

Location:  The event begins at 15618 Maiden Lake Rd, Mountain, WI, 54149 (Nicolet Plastics Maiden Lake Warehouse)

Date: Saturday, June 15, 2019

Registration:

  • Pre-registration is recommended. Before May 24 entry fee is $25, after May 24 the entry fee is $30, which includes a performance t-shirt.
  • Download a mail-in form or register online
  • Pick up a registration form at Lakewood SuperValu, Nicolet Plastics or other area businesses
  • On event day, registration is from 7:30-8:30 am, with the Walk/Run starting at 9:00 am.
  • You can also call at 715-276-4200  for more information

In Wisconsin, approximately 75% of emergency service workers are volunteers that are trained to help individuals in the event of a severe medical occurrence, car accident, and other life-threatening situation. These brave men and women put their own lives at risk each day to help others in need. As a special reward for these hardworking emergency professionals, proceeds from the Nicolet Run / Walk will be contributed to area emergency response departments to purchase life-saving equipment and training supplies. Sponsored by Nicolet Plastics, LLC. and the Pirates of the Northwood’s Parrot Head Club, the event has raised $83,400 benefiting area emergency response departments since 2003.

Event Sponsorship Information

Organizations or individuals interested in event sponsorship should contact Lee Ann Anderson at (715) 276-4269 or email leeann.anderson@nicoletplastics.com

The event site is located 80 miles northwest of Green Bay, or 40 miles east of Antigo and west of Marinette. Travel and hotel accommodations can be made through the Lakewood Area Chamber Website.

TruVenture Composites LLC Announces Acquisition

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TruVenture Composites LLC, parent company of Nicolet Plastics LLC located in Mountain, Wisconsin, is pleased to announce that Nicolet Plastics has completed the acquisition of CNR Group, LLC located in Jackson, Wisconsin. CNR Group provides an extension to the capabilities of Nicolet Plastics by focusing on smaller‐tonnage injection molding and will now operate as CNR Plastics Division under Nicolet Plastics. CNR Group was founded in 2010 by Bob and Cheri Albrecht as a producer of plastic injection molded parts for the medical, electronics, agricultural, industrial, consumer, dental and sporting goods industries. It operates out of a 31,000 square‐foot production facility and produces such products as medical visor frames, packaging clips, lids and containers, consumer product components and many other components. CNR Group also offers custom assembly. All employees of CNR Group have been retained and will continue with CNR Plastics Division. Following the acquisition, Bob and Cheri Albrecht will also remain with the company in their roles to manage CNR Plastics Division. Additionally, Bob and Cheri Albrecht will assist TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics with organic and acquisition growth opportunities. TruVenture Composites acquired Nicolet Plastics in 2017 as the base of its plastics and composites portfolio to which it continues to search for acquisition targets in the Wisconsin area that have plastic processing capabilities in injection molding, blow molding or thermoforming, among others. The objective of TruVenture Composites’ portfolio is to better support its customers’ requirements by providing broad and integrated plastic processing capabilities under one company dedicated to exceptional quality and customer service.

TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics welcome Bob and Cheri Albrecht and look forward to working with them to continue the growth of its plastics composites business. For additional information regarding CNR Plastics Division, please visit the company’s website: www.cnr‐plastics.com. Additional information on TruVenture Composites and Nicolet Plastics can be found at www.truventurecomposites.com and www.nicoletplastics.com, respectively.

The acquisition was finalized on August 31, 2018. Taureau Group, LLC advised TruVenture Composites on the acquisition and DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. provided legal representation to TruVenture Composites.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tony Cavalco at ACavalco@truventurecomposites.com. Tony Cavalco is President/CEO of TruVenture Composites.

CNR Logo

Manufacturing Fall Open House at Nicolet Plastics

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October is Manufacturing Month and Nicolet Plastics is opening its doors to the community. A perfect opportunity to learn about careers in manufacturing while celebrating autumn. The event will include a facility tour, pumpkin art, and trick or treating.

Please RSVP and be our guest on Friday, October 26th from 4:00pm to 6:30pm. (Please wear closed toed shoes.)

Call 715-276-4225 or email openhouse@nicoletplastics.com

#manufacturingmonth #mountainwi #activities

Fall Event

Nicolet Plastics Named an Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company in America

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Each year, Inc. recognizes the fastest growing private companies in America. Companies that made this year’s list grew (on average), six-fold since 2013 which is an incredible accomplishment considering the economy grew just 6.7 percent in that time.

2017 marks the fourth time Nicolet Plastics has been included on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company in America lists.

“Of the tens of thousands of companies that have applied to the Inc. 5000 over the years, only a fraction have made the list more than once,” said Eric Schurenberg, President & Editor in Chief of Inc. Media. “ A mere one in ten have made the list four times.”

Inc. 5000 represents not only the fastest-growing private companies in America, but companies that create jobs, value and innovative solutions. View the full list here.

Save the Date for the 15th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run

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The 15th Annual Nicolet Walk/Run is almost upon us! Have you started your training yet?

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 16th, 2018 beginning at 9:00 AM and will circle the scenic 4.37 mile route around beautiful Maiden Lake.

Sponsored by Nicolet Plastics, LLC. and the Pirates of the Northwood’s Parrot Head Club, the event has raised over $77,400 benefiting area emergency response departments since 2003.

Registration:

In Wisconsin, approximately 75% of emergency service workers are volunteers that are trained to help individuals in the event of a severe medical occurrence, car accident, and other life-threatening situation. These brave men and women put their own lives at risk each day to help others in need. As a special reward for these hardworking emergency professionals, proceeds from the Nicolet Run / Walk will be contributed to area emergency response departments to purchase life-saving equipment and training supplies.

The event site is located 80 miles northwest of Green Bay, or 40 miles east of Antigo and west of Marinette. Travel and hotel accommodations can be made through the Lakewood Area Chamber Website.

Organizations or individuals interested in event sponsorship should contact Lee Ann Anderson at (715) 276-4269 or email leeann.anderson@nicoletplastics.com

6 Plastic Injection Molding Trends to Watch in 2018

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According to Global Market Inc., the injection molded plastic market has established itself as one of the most dynamically evolving businesses in recent times. As one of the most commonly-used processes for product manufacturers, plastic injection molding is a precise method that can fabricate nearly any type of plastic part. Technologies, processes and materials used in injection molding continue to advance – allowing manufacturers better insight to design, develop and produce the highest performing and cost efficient plastic parts.

Key areas that will continue to be of focus in the year ahead are the advancements in automation, sustainable practices, and software that allow for parts to be analyzed and tweaked virtually before production. In addition, industry experts credit lower oil prices, technological advances, technical expertise, and rapid growth in the building and construction sectors as drivers for continued future growth.

As we look ahead to 2018, we’re closely watching and leveraging the following plastic injection molding trends. Are you?

1. Automation

The impact of automation has been felt in virtually every industry, but the increased deployment of automated tools and robotics in the injection molding industry stands to be monumental. Automated robots boast speed, accuracy, agility and adaptability, which allows for significant increases in production.

Labor and energy make a tremendous impact on plastics processors businesses. To effectively compete internationally, processors must automate to increase the productivity and reduce costs of their operations in order to remain competitive.

Even when working with low to mid volume plastic parts, automation can greatly improve the cost and labor efficiency of production. However, automation is much more than simply adopting the use of robots. While automation may allow for increased processing time, a high level of skilled labor is still needed to manage operations effectively.

Another development in manufacturing automation, according to a recent report, is the integration of collaborative robots or “co-bots” which are increasingly being adopted to work collaboratively with humans. Through the use of robot controllers and specialized sensors for operations, manufacturers are able to address common issues such as labor shortages, repetitive processes and ergonomically-challenging tasks. In fact, many businesses that have embraced automation are reporting improved part consistency and quality, which is why we see this trend expanding in the coming year.

2. Environmental / Sustainability

In an effort to contribute to eco-friendliness and sustainability, the injection molding industry as a whole has been working diligently to decrease energy consumption and create bio-based and recyclable products. Thanks to advances in engineering, newer injection molding equipment now uses between 20%-50% less energy compared to those released just 10 years ago.

Responsible injection molders are also working diligently to reduce the amount of scrap plastics produced in the molding process and gaining efficiencies in doing so. For example, obtaining scrap material that can be repurposed in addition to recycling materials. Taking a few small steps to put sustainable practices into place can (over the course of a few years) save hundreds of thousands of pounds of material from going into landfills.

Many companies are working to strike a balance between their use of conventional plastics and bio-based alternatives. In addition, some organizations are in various stages of development and deployment of plastics, made entirely or in part, from soybeans, corn, flax and other materials, to meet the demand from consumers to save fossil fuels and reduce the negative aspects that traditional plastics have on the environment. Count on more manufacturers to increase their focus on environmental sustainability while reducing their carbon footprint in 2018.

3. Nearshoring

For manufacturers seeking to reduce production expenses, outsourcing of injection molding and/or processes to other countries is an industry trend worth noting. According to one medical device industry expert, the cost difference between injection molding a part in Asia versus North America is actually very small because the labor component is negligible. Electricity is a major component of injection molding, and energy costs are rather universal. So, what’s the element driving the nearshoring trend? Shipping.

The high cost and lengthy shipping times associated with manufacturing components or finished products overseas is forcing many U.S. companies to evaluate their operations and manufacture and ship from locations that are geographically closer. Companies benefiting from nearshoring cite faster delivery, reliability and cost-savings as major factors in their success. Creating long-lasting relationships with injection molders who can act as a partner in your product development process and assist with design for manufacturability also has major benefits. These reasons make us anticipate even more organizations shifting to nearshoring in the near future.

4. Precision Molding

The need for addressing manufacturing challenges swiftly, resolve production issues quickly and help engineers and technicians troubleshoot in real-time is being met by an abundance of technology in our industry – specifically by RJG eDart technology and software platforms like IQMS and Moldflow.

  • RJG eDart: RJG is a comprehensive and powerful process monitoring tool for injection molding applications. The system helps gain greater control over stabilizing the injection molding processes and ensures parts of the highest quality.
  • Mold Flow: Mold flow analysis simulates how a material will flow through a mold and how the material will orient within the mold. The simulation exposes potential warp and stress points and can help identify areas where sink marks may appear. It can also help to identify where weld lines will be located within the part. Mold flow is an aid in the development of optimal gate location and size. It allows an injection molder to identify stress areas and increase radii in order to eliminate stress points and perfect the tool before the final stages.
  • IQMS: When IQMS application software is used throughout an organization and the molding process, the system can provide a very efficient way to monitor every single step of every single machine in real time to make certain adjustments can be made at a moment’s notice.

5. Metal to Plastic Conversion

While the concept of metal to plastic conversion isn’t new to the industry, the contributions that this process is making in terms of reducing weight, improving fuel efficiency, increasing strength, as well as chemical and heat resistance are striking. Furthermore, factors such as design flexibility and the use of new and improved polymers is causing more and more companies to consider injection molding to meet their needs.

Before moving forward with a plastic to metal part conversion for your organization, we suggest meeting with an experienced design engineer to determine if such a transition is suitable for your product and application.

6. Design For Manufacturability

We’re also noticing an increase in companies working with their plastic injection molders and engineering teams early in the design process. Collaborating with customers at the genesis of their product offers several benefits, including:

  • Selecting the right material for the application
  • Considering radius and wall thickness
  • Ensuring proper gate location
  • Considering draft
  • Including ribs for strength and durability
  • Properly accounting for mold shrinkage

Not only do these elements ensure a smooth manufacturing process of components and/or finished products, it provides the ability for you to go to market quicker while remaining within your budget.

Injection molding plays a vital role in the development of products that serve a plethora of industries. It’s a fluid manufacturing practice that involves a series of complex processes, but finding the right partner makes all the difference in the success of your part. If you’re unsure of how to benefit from the injection molding trends predicted for the year ahead, contact our knowledgeable design engineers, tooling and production experts today.

Nicolet Plastics Acquired by TruVenture Composites LLC

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This post was originally published by Plastics News on March 9, 2017 and written by Dan Loepp

Nicolet Plastics sold; new owner to seek additional acquisitions

When Bob Macintosh started to plan an exit strategy from Nicolet Plastics Inc. six years ago, he wanted to leave the company in the hands of a stable buyer.

The custom injection molder’s location, in the Wisconsin North Woods, was a complicating factor.

“My end goal was to create stability for this plant and this area. This is a community of 700 people. If something happened that affected the jobs of the 82 people who work here, that would be devastating to this area,” Macintosh said.

After a long search, Macintosh thinks he found the right buyer. On Feb. 28 he signed a deal to sell Nicolet to TruVenture Composites LLC, an affiliate of family-owned Badger Mining Corp. of Berlin, Wis.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Badger Mining was looking to diversify outside its core business of mining and processing sand and other aggregates for industrial applications like hydraulic fracturing. It settled on plastics as an industry of interest, and contacted Macintosh about Nicolet.

Nicolet may be small, but it has a reputation in plastics and manufacturing circles. The company was twice a finalist for Plastics News Processor of the Year, and in 2013 it won a Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leadership 100 award.

Macintosh had talked to other potential buyers, including plastics processors and private equity investors. But he was having trouble finding the right fit. A key was protecting the workforce.

True Venture understood his priorities, so Macintosh expects very few changes. True Venture bought both the business and the plant, in tiny Lakewood, Wis., in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. All the employees and the management team are staying.

John Ogorek, the chief financial officer, is adding CEO to his title, but Macintosh said that transition started about a year ago.

The biggest changes: a new name, Nicolet Plastics LLC, and a new role for Macintosh. He’ll be working with the new owners to find more investment opportunities in the plastics industry.

“Businesses either grow or die. We are definitely growing,” he said. “I’ll be working with them the next two years, making sure this business grows and survives, and looking for other opportunities.”

Macintosh said Nicolet needs more molding capacity. But as he approaches age 70 he didn’t want to go back into debt to make that happen. Plus, because of the scarcity of new workers in the North Woods, expanding at Nicolet would be difficult.

Now he’s looking to buy companies with capacity to take on more work, and that have complementary values to Nicolet and Badger.

Nicolet has 82 employees and 19 presses, ranging from 40 to 610 tons of clamping force. It generated $14 million in sales last year, Macintosh said.

Nicolet is known for making the most of complexity — molding small lots, with numerous tool changes — using a philosophy called Quick Response Manufacturing, which they learned from Rajan Suri at the University of Wisconsin. The company specializes in low- to moderate-volume projects, and highly complex custom parts.

The company celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Macintosh and three partners started the company in 1985 and incorporated in 1986. They started with an investment of $1,200 — $300 from each partner — molding in a small garage with a leased Newbury press.

Over time, Macintosh bought out the other three partners, the last one in 2008.

Focus on Lead Times: Using QRM to Get Ahead

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This article was originally published by Plastics Business in the winter 2017 issue and written by Lara Copeland, contributing editor.

Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now.

Over 30 years ago, at a time when a new home in the US cost an average of $90,000 and many Americans were embracing “Hands Across America,” a small group of four entrepreneurs collaborated and – contributing $300 each – established a plastics manufacturing company in the middle of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Nicolet Plastics LLC (NPI), Mountain, Wisconsin, since has expanded beyond its initial $1,200 investment and one leased press to a 19-press, 42,000-square-foot production facility that focuses on complex industrial and medical components and assemblies. Throughout the years, the company has thrived by pursuing business endeavors and facilitating growth. More recently, Nicolet has set itself apart from the competition by centering its efforts on shrinking lead times and increasing customer satisfaction.

When the global financial crisis struck the country nearly a decade ago, the manufacturing sector did not escape its wrath. Nicolet leaders, aware of the ramifications of surrendering to the recession, realized they needed to act to reinforce the company. Bob Gafvert, business development manager, explained, “Nicolet knew we wouldn’t survive trying to be like the 5,000-plus other molders in the country at that time. We needed to do something different and approach our business in a new way that would further differentiate us from the herd of molders.”

Nicolet reviewed its business and found its complexity score was off the charts when benchmarked against other molders. “In 2010, Nicolet was scoring in the millions while other molders were at a score of 300,000,” Gafvert continued. “We knew our complexity was something we could exploit when the easy, high-volume parts were being sourced off shore.” Wanting to explore options in efficiency, the company contacted the University of Wisconsin-School of Engineering and Dr. Rajan Suri, the founder of the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing.

According to the website for the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing, QRM begins with an understanding that time is the most valuable resource in any enterprise. The QRM methodology was designed specifically for high-variety manufacturers of custom-engineered, low-volume products looking to reduce lead times – much like Nicolet. This companywide approach is geared toward reducing lead times in all phases of manufacturing and office operations and is not to be confused with lean manufacturing – a philosophy focused on eliminating waste for high-volume repetitive production manufacturers.

Rather than eliminating all variabilities in manufacturing processes, QRM focuses on the elimination of dysfunctional variabilities, such as organizational issues that can cause rework, and helps companies find and understand the potential competitive advantages in strategic variabilities. Examples include, “the ability to cope with unexpected changes in demand, a large selection of options for customers and offering custom-engineered products,” according to the website. These strategic variabilities can be huge competitive advantages for companies not interested in higher-volume work, while the elimination of dysfunctional variabilities can cut the longer lead times often associated with highly custom work.

Since Nicolet implemented QRM in 2010, business began to increase. “The marketplace is taking notice of our business model and responding positively to our strategy,” Gafvert said. QRM has allowed Nicolet to compete in the manufacturing arena and gain entry to new prospects. The company has seen significant improvements in quality, reductions in lead time and reduction of inventories. It also has increased profitability and brought products to market more rapidly. Specifically, Nicolet reported reduced lead times for QRM business by two weeks while also reducing setup and changeovers by multiple hours.

“Reducing customers’ time to market and launch of new products has been a continued success. When we help a customer reduce their product launch by weeks and months, we are finding that our commitment to QRM is playing a significant part in delivering and exceeding customer expectations,” Gafvert affirmed. “Whether it’s been on the front end with customer service and orders and acknowledgements or in the quick turnaround of quoting in engineering, we found opportunities for efficiencies in reducing the white space in all aspects of business.”

Presently, Nicolet is continuing its focus on reducing white space – the time a job is waiting between steps, when something is not physically being manufactured in the press – and the company is seeing success with the complexity and diversity of its customer base and their products. As Gafvert acknowledged, “The variability that we experience day in and out is strategic for us, and QRM supports that business model.”

Adopting the QRM approach companywide did come with a few obstacles. “It requires a paradigm shift in terms of manufacturing, such as letting go of certain lean principles, as well as a culture change across the board,” Gafvert added.

To be successful, QRM needs to be employed throughout the company, and it takes time to get everyone on board. As the company has expanded over the last five years, its new hires have had to learn the importance of using QRM and how to support Nicolet’s customers with it. Additionally, getting suppliers on board can pose a challenge. The company is working to educate its suppliers on the value of time and to convince them to adopt a QRM mindset. As Gafvert suggested, “We can’t wait days for a supplier to get back to us with pricing or availability on a material or assembly part because it slows down the process.”

As the company looks for ways to remain prominent in the manufacturing arena, it is “incredible” as Gafvert put it, to see where it all started. Nicolet marked its 30-year anniversary over a two-day period this past fall by offering plant tours and celebrating with its customers (current and prospective), suppliers and the surrounding community. “It was a great opportunity to get people from the area into the facility to see what we do, the level of automation and the opportunities that exist in manufacturing,” Gafvert articulated.

Looking ahead, NPI is expecting continued growth at the facility and through expansion of its customer base. The ability to cope with unexpected changes in demand and its success in providing custom-engineered product in low to moderate volumes has been – and will continue to be – the cornerstone for Nicolet’s progress. “Our plan is to spend another 30 years in our community,” Gafvert asserted as he discussed his enthusiasm for developing the next generation of production, master molders, engineers and customer service staff. He concluded, “Nicolet will continue to focus on driving value to customers who see the opportunity in a relationship with us based on overall value and partnership.”

Benefits of Metal to Plastic Conversion for Agricultural Parts

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Metal to plastic conversion processes have been used for decades; however, many manufacturers have not considered all the benefits that can be applied to improve products. Guided by the ability to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, automotive and aerospace companies have been among the most active in converting metal to plastic. Another industry highly impacted by metal to plastic part conversion is agriculture. With advancements in design, engineered plastics can be just as strong and chemical and heat resistant which makes plastic a great option for fluid handling systems and other high-temperature applications. Here are a few other benefits that manufacturers of agricultural products will see with a metal to plastic part conversion.

1. Design Flexibility:

One of the greatest aspects of converting metal agricultural parts to plastic is the design freedom that is created in the process. It is recommended to work closely with an experienced injection molder and design engineer to gain an understanding of the features that should be taken into account to maintain a complex structural design for your part. Specifically, it’s more efficient to create complex parts out of plastic than metal because injection molding easily allows for under-cuts, threads, ports and tight tolerances.

The design flexibility also enables greater strength in plastic parts. With the ability to mold in features for structural strength like ribs, bosses and gussets, strength can be increased without adding additional cost.

2. Weight:

Reducing part weight with a metal to plastic conversion is another big advantage of the process. Reducing part weight by using plastic gives you more parts per pound of material, significantly reduces shipping costs, and oftentimes improves the end-user’s ease of use with the product. Additionally, in some applications reducing part weight can improve gas mileage and boost recycling opportunities.

3. Cost:

In general, agricultural product manufacturers will see an overall cost reduction for metal to plastic part conversion. There are several ways that cost reduction comes into play throughout the design and injection molding process:

  • Multiple metal parts can be replaced by one injection-molded part made of durable, engineered plastic – eliminating the need for fasteners and assembly
  • Colors can be added to the plastic polymer, eliminating secondary operations for painting or laser marking
  • The need to weld, grind, and add dent and scratch resistance and noise dampening is eliminated

4. New and Improved Polymers:

The continuing advancements in polymer development have enticed many product engineers and designers to evaluate the use of traditional materials such as metal. New and improved polymers have allowed part manufacturers and injection molders the ability to produce parts that were once thought of as impossible to create with plastic.

Advanced polymers with specific fillers and reinforcements also allow engineers the ability to add a significant amount of structural integrity to molded parts. With the proper selection and design optimization, plastic parts can be as strong as metal.

Before moving forward with a plastic to metal part conversion, it is important to meet with an injection molder to determine if the transition is suitable for your product. This process requires considerable analysis that keeps the end use, cost, environmental conditions and manufacturability in mind. Analyzing the benefits for conversion and the real-world environmental impact will help you make the best material choice for your agricultural part.

Are you considering a metal to plastic part conversion? Let Nicolet Plastics walk you through an efficient evaluation process.

Manufacturing in the Northwoods: Q&A with Bob MacIntosh of Nicolet Plastics

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When four men set out to start a plastics manufacturing business in the Northwood’s of Oconto County, they didn’t have the money to purchase an injection press. Pooling $300 a piece, they managed to scrape together enough to lease a press and with that, Nicolet Plastics was born in 1986. With minimal knowledge of the industry, Phil Hartman, Bob MacIntosh, Miles Serney and his son Flip, worked collaboratively to grow the business to where it stands today as a global producer of plastic injection molded parts with over 41,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

As Nicolet Plastics celebrates it’s 30th year in business, Bob MacIntosh remains with the organization as one of the original founding partners and the current president of Nicolet Plastics. In this Q&A, Bob reflects on the company’s growth over the past 30 years, and what’s to come in the years ahead.

Q: Over the past 30 years, what has set Nicolet Plastics apart from other plastic injection molders?

A: What has set us apart the most is our focus on lead times and quick response manufacturing. We are committed to educating our customers and getting them involved as early in the design process as possible. This helps to reduce launch times often by as much as 6 months.

Additionally, we’ve leaned on the concepts that Seth Godin share’s in his book, Purple Cow. The book implies that the key to success is to find a way to stand out – to be the purple cow in a field of typical Holsteins. With over 5,000 injection molders out there, we had to find a way to be the purple cow. We try to appeal to a sub-set of customers that typically haven’t gotten the attention we know they deserve. We focus on higher complexity parts with larger material mix and lower volume.

Q: What are the most common questions customers ask?

A: New customers are at a point where they are trying to understand the process as well as looking for price or a quote. They also ask what type of support we can provide from design, engineering, production, communication and lead time. There are many other questions including transfer tool capabilities, range of materials, credibility and security we offer in house and more.

One unique offering that our company provides for our new customers is called Nicolet Plastics University. It’s a full day course taught in our manufacturing facility with corresponding online resources. The class is offered to any customer interested in learning more about the plastic injection molding process. Taught by our lead engineer, the class provides invaluable insight for designers, engineers and anyone involved in the part & product manufacturing process.

Q: What do customers value most in your team?

A: That’s an easy question – definitely our responsiveness and expertise. Our company is nestled in a small community and that representative of our humble and friendly approach with everything we do.

Q: What have customers expressed to be the most important factors when choosing a plastics manufacturing partner?

A: The most important factors to a plastic injection molding customer is being able to handle their expectations, volume, lead time, and budget. Also being able to swiftly handle turnover on a customer’s team to ensure a new contact is up to speed and has the information he or she needs.

Q: What can a client expect during the first meeting? Please walk us through an example.

A: We try to engage engineers early on. If they aren’t involved in the design or technical side, the sooner we become involved, the better.

Our first meetings are usually done by phone, WebEx or GoToMeeting. If at all possible, we love our prospects and customers to visit our facility. Our expert employees, technology and capabilities definitely sell themselves when you walk through our doors.

Q: What are the top 2-3 hot button issues in plastics manufacturing right now?

A: Technology within manufacturing and specifically injection molding, is changing so quickly.Design support, engineering and automation are huge factors in regard to remaining competitive. There are also interesting advancements in the area of additive manufacturing (3-D printing) that we are looking at closely as possible service offerings for some of our clients in the future. Additionally, not many molders get as involved as we do in highly engineered materials.

Many have heard of the “Amazon Effect” and we are definitely feeling it in our industry as well. We are seeing that compression of time is becoming more and more prevalent. Shorter lead-time is an increasing expectation for customers with high demand for getting products to market quicker and within budget.

Q: What are you proud of and what are you most excited about for the years ahead?

A: We were honored to receive Plastics News’ award for Processor of the Year for Customer Service in 2015. It’s an award that honors companies with superior achievement among plastics processors. In the years ahead, we are looking toward expanding operations in regard to geography and overall growth.

Nicolet Plastics’ 30th Anniversary & Open House

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The history of plastics manufacturing goes back to the 1800’s and we couldn’t be more proud to have brought a part of America’s largest and most dynamic sector to our community. October is designated as Manufacturing Month in the state of Wisconsin and we are thrilled to be recognizing a major company milestone:

As we reflect on the growth of Nicolet Plastics since its inception in 1986, we acknowledge how truly grateful we are for our community’s support. In recognition of the next chapter for Nicolet Plastics, we’d like to invite you please join us for a special celebration.

Friday, October 21 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Nicolet Plastics
16685 State Road 32 Mountain, WI 53149

Event Features:

  • Facility Tours Led By On-Site Engineering & Subject Matter Experts
  • Meet & Greet With Local Dignitaries
  • Much More!

Nicolet Wins Processor of the Year Award for Customer Relations

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At the annual Plastics News Processor of the Year Awards, Nicolet Plastics won the annual award for Customer Relations.

This award was announced the news at an evening banquet Feb. 17 during Plastics News’ Executive Forum in Naples. The Processor of the Year Award is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

To see a video highlighting Nicolet Plastics, click on the video link below:

Year Award

Nicolet Plastics, Inc. expands its use of EMI Shielding Plastic Compounds.

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Nicolet Plastics has developed expertise in providing reliable EMI/RFI shielding in applications where electromagnetic compatibility is required. In working with specialty compounds and unique processes, Nicolet is providing customers intrinsically safe products that metals are unable to achieve. In addition, this approach removes the cost and secondary processes of coatings, saving customers weeks of time to finished product.

We are finding that new regulations are driving new expectations and requirements for designers and manufacturers to integrate shielding into product designs.

EMI shielding can provide protection to components from incoming EMI, and RF. Multiple compounds allow designers to achieve the expectations required, and provide flexibility in design that traditional coating methods limit. Nicolet has provided cost and time savings opportunities to customers through introducing stainless steel fiber with the plastic compounds, providing the shielding required.

Opportunities abound to incorporate flame and wear additives to meet your application requirements while decreasing lead times.

Mining, Agriculture, Medical, Electronics, Energy, and the Industrial OEM marketplaces are all opportunities for incorporating EMI and RF shielding, as more and more equipment is connected and powered every day.

If you are interested in learning more about Nicolet Plastics, Inc. and our success with providing injection molded plastic parts with shielding built into the component, please contact us.

Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year (2015) Nominees Announced

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The Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year-2015 nominees were recently announced, and Nicolet Plastics, Inc. is one of the companies receiving this distinction.

This is the 3rd time in the last 4 years that Nicolet Plastics, Inc. has been nominated.

Thirty-eight Wisconsin manufacturers have been nominated for the 28th Annual Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year awards.

The MOTY program acknowledges a diverse assortment of manufacturers of all sizes and industries for their significant economic improvements to the great state of Wisconsin. A total of four Grand Award winners will be chosen based on company size.

The accounting and advisory firm of Baker Tilly, the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, and the business association Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sponsor the MOTY awards program. The sponsors will celebrate this year’s nominees and reveal winners at a ceremony on February 25. 2016, at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Nominee List-WMOTY 2015

Nicolet Plastics Wins 2014 Manufacturing Award of Distinction

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On November 12, 2014, Nicolet Plastics Inc. was honored to have received special recognition as winner of the 2014 Manufacturing Awards of Distinction for Small Business.

Bob MacIntosh President and CEO of Nicolet Plastics

Accepting the award was Bob MacIntosh, President/CEO. This annual event honors companies that have achieved excellence in manufacturing.

Nicolet Plastics. Inc. is thriving – and growing – creating jobs, increasing sales, and continuing to innovate through a commitment to Quick Response Manufacturing. Nicolet Plastics Inc. achievements with Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) and our Skills Matrix has paved the way to this opportunity.

The Manufacturing Award of Distinction, now entering its 15th year, honors excellence in manufacturing in Northeast Wisconsin. Awards are presented to outstanding manufacturers in categories based on company size and workforce development.The annual Manufacturing Awards of Distinction are presented by Baker Tilly.

Award

Nicolet Plastics wins Top Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Three manufacturing leaders who demonstrated the ability to thrive in times of rapid change and turned global competitive challenges into growth opportunities were recognized this week with top honors in the ninth annual Manufacturing Leadership 100 (ML100) Awards, presented by the Manufacturing Leadership Community, part of Frost & Sullivan.

At a gala awards ceremony at the Breakers Hotel attended by winners of the ML100 Awards, Diana Tremblay, vice president for North American Manufacturing at General Motors, was named Manufacturing Leader of the Year. This recognition is a result of her role in returning the company to firm financial footing and revamping GM’s plants ability to respond quickly as customers increasingly migrate to smaller, more fuel-efficient, and alternative-energy vehicles.

Also receiving top honors were Nicolet Plastics Inc. and Ford Motor Company. Both companies were recognized for having carried out the most transformative projects reviewed this year by the ML100 distinguished panel of industry judges. Nicolet was selected as the top overall project from among all 2013 ML100 Award winners with annual revenues of under $1 billion. Ford’s Enterprise Bill of Process initiative was selected as the top overall project from among all 2013 ML100 Award winners with annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

Seven winners of ML100 High Achiever Awards and three winners of the ML100 Editors’ Choice Awards were also announced. The High Achiever Awards are presented to a select group of ML100 Award-winning projects announced earlier this year. High Achievers received the most votes from the judges in each of the seven ML100 Award categories. Winners of the Editors’ Choice Awards were selected by members of the Manufacturing Executive editorial staff which found them to be projects that represented great potential and captured the spirit of the ML100 Awards.

Also honored were winners of the ML100 Technology Partner Awards, President’s Awards, and President Awards Platinum Club, that played key roles in helping ML100 Award winners to achieve outstanding performance.

“Our heartiest congratulations go out to Diana Tremblay, Nicolet Plastics, the Ford Motor Company, and all of the top ML100 Award winners, ” said David R. Brousell, global vice president, research, and editorial director of the Manufacturing Leadership Community, whose businesses include the ML100 Awards program, the Manufacturing Leadership Summit, the Manufacturing Leadership Journal, and the Manufacturing Leadership Council. “These manufacturing innovators have shown us all how manufacturing leaders can survive challenging times while excelling to create competitive advantage.”

“As we all know it’s a leadership award, but it takes a whole team of people,” said Tremblay of GM after receiving the top award. “On behalf of them I’d like to thank them for all the hard work they do.”

Nicolet Plastics was selected as the Small Manufacturer of the Year for its success in reinventing itself as an ultra-responsive provider of low- and moderate-volume parts in the face of rising global competition using a system called Quick Response Manufacturing to improve every part of the company.

“On behalf of all the employees of Nicolet Plastics who helped win this award, thank you,” said Bob Macintosh, the company’s president and CEO.

Ford Motor Company was honored as the Large Manufacturer of the Year for its Enterprise Bill of Process initiative which has transformed the way the company plans and executes its vehicle programs digitally on a global scale.

“I’d like to thank everyone on behalf of Ford Motors, and thank the Siemens and Ford teams for their work on this project,” said John Fleming, Ford’s executive vice president, global manufacturing and labor affairs. “I’d like to accept this award on behalf of all the Ford employees who make this happen.”

Nicolet Plastics Receives Manufacturing Leadership Operational Excellence Award

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On behalf of Frost & Sullivan, and the ML100 Judges, we are proud to announce that Nicolet Plastics is the recipient of the 2013 ML100 Operational Excellence Award.

The selection of this award comes through in-depth analysis of award nominations by a panel of expert judges. Based on the judges’ evaluations, the top 100 projects are selected as Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award winners. Manufacturing Leadership 100 Award judges were looking for projects that demonstrated achievement across a wide variety of domains including sustainability, operational excellence, workforce development, innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry advocacy. Judges base their decisions on projects that enabled manufacturers to set themselves apart from their competitors, and that delivered clear and compelling value, return on investment, and other tangible results.

Nicolet Plastics honored with the New North Workplace Excellence Award

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Nicolet Plastics honored with the New North Workplace Excellence Award!

Congratulations to everyone at Nicolet Plastics, Inc.!

Nicolet Plastics was just recently informed that we are the winners of the New North Workplace Excellence Award.

The New North Workplace Excellence Award is presented by New North, Inc. and Right Management Inc. to organizations located within the 18-county New North region of Wisconsin.

The award recognizes organizations that improve their competitive advantage through people practices that lead to successful business results.

The 18 counties include: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago.

Nicolet was selected from multiple innovative applicants by the Attract, Develop and Retain Diverse Talent Committee of New North.

Past Recipients of this Award are:

  • 2009 -Goodwill Industries of North Central WI, Inc. -McCain Foods USA, Inc. -Miles Kimball Company
  • 2010 -Holy Family Memorial, Inc. -Schneider National, Inc.
  • 2011 -Mid-States Aluminum Corporation -Skyline Technologies -Tank Technololgy

Nicolet will be honored at the 2012 New North Annual Summit being held at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton on Friday, December 7

Thank you everyone for your continued belief and support in Nicolet Plastics; we do make a difference!