Fabricator's Success is Taylor-Made
The ability to custom
fabricate, weld and machine everything from roulette wheel
guards to reconstructing a 100-year-old clock is leading
Taylor Plastics down the road to success.
The best source of
advertising for Taylor Plastics has stemmed from a job that
was almost passed by.
Thorpe & Co Jeweller's clock in Sioux City, IA,
is back in action. The original clock was over 100
years old and was in need of replacement due to the
wood rotting out . Taylor Plastics came up with an
identical replica of the antique clock that should
stand the test of time. The new clock is made from
antique clock located at the corners of 5th & Nebraska
has been a fixture in downtown Sioux City, IA, originally
built prior to 1900. A few repairs were needed following
fires in 1904 and 1912 and after being knocked to the ground
in 1953 by a passing truck.
approximately 80 to 90 percent of the clock had to be
rebuilt because the wood casing had rotted. A total
construction project was needed to get it back to its
original condition, only this time using plastic.
Enters Plastic Age
"When I went to
look at this job I walked into a woodworkers shop and there
was dust all over the pieces of this clock which were
scattered all over the floor," says Mike Taylor, president
of Council Bluffs, IA-based Taylor Plastics. "The woodworker
looked at me and said 'I don't know how you're going to do
this,' and I looked at him and said 'I have no idea.' I left
there kind of like I don't know if I want touch this. But
the closer I got back to the shop the more I thought its
about time I give my guys something that will challenge them
so we can see how good we really are."
80-90 percent of the clock had to be rebuilt due to the
rotted wood that comprised nearly the entire clock. .A total
reconstruction project was needed to get it back to its
original condition.....however this total reconstruction
would be made from plastic.
The clock was
rebuilt using all CPG Seaboard, a high-density polyethylene
sheet designed to meet outdoor environments. The only
original parts remaining on the clock after Taylor was
finished was the base it sits on, the bezels and arms, which
are aluminum, and the minute markers. The numbers were
molded out of flat gold aluminum plate by Taylor to the
"We had to invent
a lot of ways to get it done, invent how we were going to
form certain angles and radii and how we were going to put
it together right and make it look good," says Taylor. "When
we first quoted that clock, we weren't going to do the art
carvings on it. But we ended up doing all the carvings
except for a few pieces which the owner wanted done by a
isn't available in any size over an inch thick so we had to
extrusion weld 21Ú2-inch thick pieces together before we
could start," says Taylor. "We milled all the outer shapes.
All the carving done to the clock took me 15 hours using a
To get the carving
to look accurate, Taylor took one of the original wood
carvings, placed it in his small thermoformer and
thermformed white high-impact styrene over it to get the
exact shape. He cut out the shapes with a razor blade and
laid them over the milled part, whited out the areas areas
which needed to be grinded, machining it by hand.
"We used round rod
to trim up the bottom of the clock, but we had to come up
with some way to put round knobs down there to look like the
original trim, says Taylor. "I found black polyethylene gear
shift knobs that we screwed right in, but to get the round
rod we had to use our DRO lathe to get the plastic knobs
from square to round.
Taylor also needed
a sheet of 1Ú4-inch Seaboard to finish the top cap, but
could only come up with a 1Ú2-inch sheet. They decided to
take the 1Ú2-inch SeaBoard surface mill the sheet down to
1Ú4-inch thick using their CNC Bridgeport mill.
numbers on the polyethylene face provided yet another
stumbling block. They couldn't find a glue that would adhere
to the polyethylene face of the clock. Fortunately, though,
3M happened to be coming out with an adhesive called
"They came out
with this adhesive at the same time I needed it for this
clock," says Taylor. "The numbers adhered to the face of the
polyethylene using the DP8005 and good luck prying them off
of there. That got me out of a jam and not only worked but
it knocked off 5 hours of heliarching off the job so we
didn't have to heliarch studs onto the numbers.
"We got to the
point where we had two weeks to get it ready to be put on
the pedestal in Sioux City for a big media unveiling and we
lived at the shop for two weeks," says Taylor. "While I was
getting the design drawings finalized, I had Jeremy Wood
programming in all my radiuses, Tim Shannon and John
Jenkins, who did my welding, were working on the main body.
Doing the final touch-ups, we went around this thing 100
times cause we wanted it perfect. When we did get done with
it, we were $2800 over budget. It cost $12,000 to build the
clock. But I didn't take this job to make money. I knew that
the publicity and recognition would more then make up for it
and the pride I got out of watching these guys was worth it
to me when it was all finished."
to right: Jeremy Wood (kneeling), John Jenkins and
Tim Shannon proudly display their finished clock
(bext to the original clock) before it gets shipped
to its home in Sioux City, IA.
And for future
reference, Taylor took pictures and notes daily of what was
done from start to finish to help bookmark all of the stages
his four-man crew went through to finish the clock. Who
knows, maybe they will need the diary for a future
"I wouldn't mind
doing another clock, sitting down and building another one.
Now that we have done one, it wouldn't be so tough," says
Taylor. "We still get letters from the owner saying how much
people like it and how great they think it looks. There were
times I wondered if we were going to get through it, but the
closer we got to getting it done, and it started going
together it got to be more fun.
"What I want to do
next year is build one for my wife," Taylor continues. "She
wants one for our front yard."
"The first time I
heard about plastic welding I saw a picture of a plating
shop in Germany and all these PVC vent hoods and thought
they couldn't be glued. Did they weld them? I had done all
sorts of welding and I couldn't believe that welding plastic
was possible back then," says Taylor. "But once I actually
did it myself I realized that welding of plastic was going
to find its niche somewhere along the line and I wanted to
be in the thick of it.
Taylor's dad was
an engineer; His father-in-law owned a plating company in
Omaha. When he told them he was going to start a plastic
welding shop, they didn't bite. "They said, 'There's no such
thing as plastic welding'," says Taylor. "I bought a welder
and started welding plastics and they tried to break it.
They couldn't. I still have a piece at my house they tried
to break. They drove a forklift on top of a 90-degree piece
of acrylic and the weld held, though the acrylic snapped
after about 30 minutes. That is how it started."
Taylor likes to
run his business the old fashioned way, if your in a
business to take care of customers, then you should be
geared up to service them.
"Being small like
we are is kind of nice because it allows us a little
versatility &emdash; we are more of a family-oriented-type
shop. We very rarely if ever say no to a job and I'm not a
believer in just-in-time because I think that hurts the
industry. It doesn't matter if I have 5 or 50 employees. You
have to care about people a lot more now then 10 years ago.
People just want to be treated good."
got started welding plastic repairing tubs for the meat
packing industry that would get rammed by the fork lifts.
His crew would go on site and weld their tubs. At the time
he was working out of his house using half of the garage.
Then it was to small and he went to using both sides of the
garage before he built a 24-ft. by 30-ft. shop which only
lasted about 8 months before he outgrew that and moved to
Omaha and a 3,000-square-foot building. But wanting the
company in his home town, Taylor found his current
5,000-square-foot shop five years ago in Council Bluffs,
which won't last too much longer if business continues its
uses: four Wegener hand-held and extrusion welders;
materials from either E&T Plastics or Regal Plastics;
Onsrud Cutter router bits; saw blades from Forrest Mfg. and
General Saw and welding rod from Prime Plastics.
CPG Seaboard, a
high-density polyethylene sheet, is what Taylor has chosen
to help his company's efforts in expansion. Formulated to
meet specific requirements of marine and other outdoor
environments, it is manufactured as a continuous extrusion
by Compression Polymers Group. The Seaboard is the main
ingredient in one of Taylor's newest concepts, Taylor
handicap or as a wall mount, the drinking fountain for park
and recreational uses are basically maintenance free. The
polymer Taylor uses is UV resistant which protects against
the suns harsh rays, salt water resistant so that side walk
salts and salt water will not harm or corrode them and
impact resistant to reduce damage from vandalism.
is being graffiti-resistant because most paints and markers
are easily cleaned or brushed off making painting a thing of
the past. The textured finish hides most surface scratches
and provides an attractive look. Thus, SeaBoard was also a
good choice for the clock job.
available in a wide variety of colors, are ideal for any
application. Taylor has been bombarded with requests for
these fountains and they have spread from Council Bluffs to
Denver and as far as Central America. Taylor is also
entertaining the idea of selling some to the college
campuses with Huskers, Hawkeyes or Cyclones for example,
printed down the side.
He came up with
the concept three years ago and has fabricated 16 of them
for the parks in Council Bluffs.
"The city came to
us and brought us an old fountain with the base all rusted
out and dented. They would spend $300 every other year to
get it repainted and get the corrosion of it," Taylor says.
"I told them I would come up with a better system for them.
I looked at every polymer on the market and I wanted
something that was really impervious to everything. In three
years we have only had one fountain returned and that was
due to vandalism. They beat on it with a baseball bat and
spray painted it and the city brought it back to us and we
cleaned it up and now it is back in the park."
The fountains are
equipped with theft proof doors and all stainless fasteners
it them. A 3Ú16-inch stainless steel plate comes down each
side with 5Ú8-inch carriage bolts holding that in, which is
sandwiched and extrusion welded in between two 1Ú2-inch
sheets of polyethylene.
"That way when the
fountain gets bolted to the ground its going to take a MAC
truck to get it off there," says Taylor. "If it's out in the
park and someone drills a hole in it or runs over it with a
car, the city can send it back to us because we can weld it
up and repair it for them. It really isn't ever
Taylor is getting
ready to change the material on the fountains because the
SeaBoard is only offered in three colors: black, gray and
sand. "We have customers who want blue and green and so it
happened at the perfect time that PolyHiSolidur came out
with their brand new line of polyethylene, its Champ Line,
which is used for playground equipment, is UV and salt water
resistant," Taylor says. "I like the texture better and it
takes the same beating as the material we are using now and
we can offer more colors which has helped us makes sales in
Denver; Topeka, KS; Crete, NE; college campuses and foreign
countries. I had a call from Central America and they wanted
a filter system in theirs to filter their water because it
isn't the best so we are looking at filters that we can
design one for the inside of our fountain so we can supply
Taylor has also
had requests for urinals for rest areas and parks as well
made from the same material. "The porcelain ones get broken
and the stainless ones are so expensive that the
polyethylene one would really fit the mold," says Taylor.
"It's exciting to watch us in our growing phase right now. I
have already talked to a few companies about switching to
rotational molding machines and molds in case production
gets up to where we have to prepare for it and that is what
we will do, go to rotational molding and rotational mold
concern is quality and anymore that is tough to come by.
"Anything that goes out here with my name on it, we make
sure it's of the highest quality," says Taylor. "I have
three fabricators in the shop now with 30 years between
them. They proved themselves as far as what they can
also welds a lot of customer RV tanks, water holding tanks
for boats or RV's for example. "Lets say your traveling
through town and you crack your tank," says Taylor. "If you
go to the local RV shop for a new tank, you're going to be
out of luck. So we work with the local RV dealers and they
send them here and weld together a tank and their on their
Custom work =
acrylic P.O.P. pen displays for a customer who sells over $3
million a year in ink pens all over the world," says Taylor.
"We just completed putting new polycarbonate guards on
roulette tables at one of the casino's in the Council
Bluffs/Omaha area. They wanted the guards one piece of
polycarbonate all the way around because it was to hard to
fight and get the guards on and off when they had to change
the felt. We went in and designed a splice where they are
two pieces with a nice tooling black cover that goes over
them so they look nice. That is the type of thing we do for
a customer if they want something changed, we'll work with
Walking in to
Taylor Plastics on any given day, one never knows what type
of work will be going on. "We usually have three different
things going on in the shop at once. I have one guy in
charge of acrylic/P.O.P. display work, one guy on welding
and one on machining and thermoforming and as we grow we
will add employees to each area. Before we tried to get
everyone trained in every area and it just doesn't work. Its
also welds together molds for short run thermoforming made
out of polypropylene. "We only do 50 or 60 of these trays
for a customer, and they don't want to spend a couple
thousand dollars on a mold so the way we can save the
customer money is we use scrap polypropylene and weld it
together, put it our mill, mill the mold out of it and put
our vacuum holes in it and its a short-run mold without
giving the customer the high mold cost."
Taylor also does
some embedding where he embeds objects into liquid acrylics
doing the most work for the state of Iowa and their bug
collections. This allows the collection to be picked up and
looked at on all sides as it preserves them. In order to
embed the collections, Taylor makes a mold and has a
certificate from the state saying he can do this because
some of the bugs within the collection are extinct and they
have to be done very carefully. "I work with the local
naturalists here and it is fun to do, but it is a touchy
thing," says Taylor. "I work with the city and state quite a
bit and I try and take care of their varying
With all these
different things going on everyday at Taylor Plastics,
keeping everything in order may seem a bit tricky. "It's not
easy, it really isn't," says Taylor. "I try and stay ahead
of everything and I do a lot of work at home. My nephew has
been with me for 10 years now and my other two guys have
been with me ever since I started plastic welding so they
have been with me from the start."
Training for the
currently working with the local high schools on a work
release-type program. He will have students come to his shop
in the afternoons and he will train them to do plastic
welding. "What better way to train future employees, right?"
says Taylor. "I am also working with Iowa Western Community
College with students that are learning AutoCAD and want a
little experience so I have worked it so they can come here
and get a little experience and class credit in their back
pocket before they go out looking for a job."
doesn't just cater to the teenagers and above. For the
second year in a row, he's visiting the local community
schools where he gives a two-hour seminar to fifth and sixth
graders on how to thermoform plastic. "This is our second
year doing this where I bring in small sheets of plastic, a
few basketball and football molds and my small thermoformer
from the shop and and let the kids thermoform the molds so
they can see how a flat sheet is molded into a part. We let
them put the plastic in the mold and close it and set the
timer and it is amazing to see the look on their faces when
they open the cabinet and they see this football or
basketball come out &emdash; its amazing."
For more on Taylor
Plastics, go to www.taylorplastics.com.
here to go back to the PMF feature
Plastics Machining & Fabricating
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