It's a fact: Design for injection molded parts depends on the materials used, and vice versa. That's one reason why major resin suppliers used to offer extensive design services to all of their customers when plastics were still rookies. In addition, these same customers were unfamiliar with plastic behavior and properties and needed expert design help when substituting plastics for metals. Over the past decade these services declined as the cost of providing them increased and as designers became more comfortable with plastics. But there is evidence that the pendulum is swinging back again, as evidenced by the recent acquisition of a product development firm by resin distributor Prime Alliance.
"We're seeing a resurgence of interest in design services from customers," says Tom Irvine, ceo of Prime Alliance, "but the reasons for it have changed. OEMs from automotive to consumer industries are asking suppliers to take on more design and development responsibility, and these suppliers are turning to us for help." To that end, Prime Alliance purchased TriMax LLC, a firm that specializes in product and market development. Irvine believes TriMax will add the needed skills and synergy required to help end users and processors decrease the total time to market.
Under the terms of the agreement, TriMax (with locations in Boulder, CO; St. Louis, MO; and Hong Kong) will exist as a separate subsidiary of Prime Alliance with its own customer base. Its services will be offered to Prime Alliance customers on a fee basis. Customers can contract for the additional design and development services through the distributor's salesperson, who becomes the singular contact for the project. Through its Hong Kong facility, TriMax can also offer prototype and production injection molds to customers in the U.S.
Adding TriMax, according to Irvine, fits well with the distributor's strategy to concentrate on service before the transaction. "There is so much emphasis today on the transaction phase of business, in which e-commerce has begun to play such a big role," he says. "We're investing in the front end-application development, design, and marketing strategy-as well as the Internet and e-commerce, because upfront service is being neglected in most cases."
Three weeks after joining Prime Alliance, Rob Banning, TriMax founder, reports that several custom molders have already made use of TriMax's design services. "We have an ftp site for file transfer," says Banning, "and can give customers quick feedback on design and material selection during the design review process. Results can then be transferred rapidly to both molders and toolmakers."
In effect, Prime Alliance hopes to make customized attention for each project available to all. "There are a multitude of roles needed for successful projects," says Banning. "Designers and molders need good input on tooling, part analysis, material selection and compatibility, decoration, and so on. We can now supply these resources on an as-needed basis."
TriMax LLC, division of Prime Alliance
Phone: (720) 565-8523
Fax: (720) 565-8522
E-mail: [email protected]