Plastim Ltd - Big investment for Cheltenham based company
Photographs & Story by Matthew Chedgey
Founded in Staverton, near Cheltenham in 1998, Plastim Ltd is one of the leading retailers of semi-finished engineering plastics in the UK. Continued investment in technology and highly trained engineers, has given the company the capability to produce complex designs to very tight tolerances. Plastim’s reputation and success are founded on a wider range of standard format thermoplastics as well as customized materials.
“We have a diverse customer base, ranging from manufacturers in the food industry to aerospace,” explains General Manager Warren Ironside. “Our customers need machined plastic parts, because moulding them is either too expensive or not accurate enough.”
The company is a leading supplier to blue chip companies in the offshore, food manufacturing, instrumentation and materials handling industries. The business’ rapidly growing reputation has made machined components their fastest developing division.
“We have upgraded our existing equipment as a proactive strategy to support our customers more complex requirements and future proof our operation,” says Warren Ironside. “After a great deal of research we found that Haas gave us the best value for money. There were some machines at the same price and capacity, but when I asked people about their machines, they weren’t happy with the service they were receiving. Word of mouth told us that with Haas, service and reliability would never be an issue - and it hasn’t.”
Plastim’s busy workshop is home to a large stable of Haas CNC mills, including a Toolroom Mill, a Mini Mill a number of VF-2s and a VF-4. The company also has a pair of Haas lathes including an ST-30 Y-axis lathe. Over recent years Haas has developed its CNC lathes to perform milling operations in addition to traditional turning duties. The ability to turn and mill complex parts and perform multiple operations on one machine increases throughput, reduces handling, improves accuracy and saves floor space.
“Investment in modern CNC vertical machining centres and lathes has kept our machining times competitive,” says Warren Ironside. “We decided on a Haas Y-axis lathe so we could start manufacturing whole components in one set-up. This reduces cycle times and a more cost effective component is produced.
“Moving a component from one machine to another introduces the possibility of mis-loads, allowing the Y-axis machine to cut all operations without additional set-ups eliminates the opportunity for these errors to arise.”
“When you have a machine with capacity like the VF-4, you start thinking of all the different things you can do to save time. It has given us the capacity we need, and allowed us to look at work that we couldn’t have been competitive on before.
“Maximum travel on our Haas VF-4 is 1200 x 500 mm. All machines are directly connected to our OneCNC CAD/CAM software which allows us to switch production from one machine to another, should it be required, thereby avoiding production bottlenecks.
“On-time delivery of top quality components is of prime importance to us as we are totally committed to customer satisfaction and long-term relationships, concludes Warren Ironside. “We have ISO 9001-2008 certification and are therefore compelled to meet the highest standards from when we receive an order until it’s dispatched. Through having a reliable partner in Haas we, as a company, have been able to grow. Their support and reliable machinery has ensured that Plastim has been able to meet deadlines and for that we are thankful.”