Insert Molding Duo Together 48 Years
In 1972 Bill Walter had just graduated high school and was hired to work as a mold maker apprentice where his brother Fred was the shop foreman at Illinois Precision Corporation (IPC) in Wheaton, IL. Their father (also named Fred) worked there as well, making small book molds for electrical coil encapsulations and automotive connectors.
A few months later John Schmitz, still in high school, was hired part time to run a small rotary molding machine developed by DhuAine Davis, owner of IPC which used this same book mold concept. This year marks 48 years that Bill and John have worked together (except for a short period apart) where they continue to pioneer cutting edge technology focused around insert molding applications at their present company Aberdeen Technologies, in Carol Stream, IL.
Insert molding was a relatively new technology in the early 1970’s and various applications were just beginning to come to light. Over the years the pair began to concentrate on one area that presented very specific challenges to manufacturing, medical devices.
“We were called upon by a Baxter division in 1983 to help develop one of the first insert molded multi-lumen catheters” Schmitz recalled. “Up until that time companies were gluing the components together, which presented a whole list of problems they were encountering”.
IPC began selling turnkey molding systems which included mold tooling that Walter designed and supervised the construction of. Over time they became a key supplier to many of the largest healthcare companies in the world.
In 1994 Schmitz left IPC and together with his father, John H. Schmitz started Aberdeen Technologies, a full service provider of insert/injection molding capabilities as well as mold tooling and prototype/design assistance. Walter joined his former colleague a few years later and they continue to this day providing innovative solutions for various industries in addition to medical injection molding for medical devices.
Walter remembers some of the more challenging projects they were called on to assist with over the years: “Molding a seal around the neck of a glass bottle without crushing it comes to mind. Also we have had to push the envelope when it comes to molding very thin gage needles, especially finding a way to fixture the delicate sharp points so they do not get damaged during molding.”
Aberdeen even assisted an inventor who designed a specialty guitar pick, taking many short lengths of guitar string and molding them into a pick shape, which when used for strumming yielded a unique embellished sound. They even invented a type of rubber guitar picks that helped players keep a tight grip while strumming.
“If a customer wants to insert mold something, no matter how unlikely it may appear at first, we are up for the challenge” remarks Schmitz. “I have a lot of confidence that Bill will find a way to make it happen, even if it does keep him up late at night. I’ve seen him pull off some pretty amazing stuff”.
Lately the demands on the company have increased dramatically, as Aberdeen builds critical tolerance mold tooling for a customer who is a major player in supplying components for ventilators, a key product in saving lives during the COVID 19 outbreak.
With a combined tenure of almost 100 years in the plastics industry, it does not appear the two will be slowing down anytime soon.
“I’ll probably always have a hand in the business because I still enjoy it immensely” says Schmitz. “Bill and I have talked, and even when he retires from full time work at some point, I believe he will continue to have some involvement, especially with mold tool designs, which are his area of expertise”.
If that is the case, then it certainly appears the two will continue to leverage their experience and long history of success to bring continued benefits to their customer base for some time to come.