“We Give PTA the Hard Stuff”
The evolution in plastics technology has revolutionized the firearms industry over the last fifty years, with lighter, stronger and more durable precision technologies changing the industry.
At the same time, producing these parts is a mounting challenge, as engineering designs push the envelope of current molding methodologies.
One of the major manufacturers of complex component parts for a host of these cutting-edge firearms products has been in the business of making high-quality, functional products in the military, defense, and law enforcement after-market sectors for over 10 years. They excel in rugged components for the munitions market that can take all the abuse that a hostile environment imposes.
Working with well-known firearms manufacturer’s, the company designed and produced components for the AR-15 rifle, as well as new technology for shotgun platform’s, high-end weapon components, such as butt stocks and foregrips, cartridge magazines, and a host of other critical accessories and components that are lighter and more durable than previous models. That translated to direct metal conversions to plastic, and the need for proprietary technologies and highly glass-filled nylons that are super-tough for strength and functionality, through mud, dirt and even under water.
These parts are challenging designs to manufacture
The geometries and specifications involve different materials, critical fits, and out-of-the-box methodologies. Due to part functionalities, there are very often zero draft areas, often a molder’s worse nightmare. With shrinking deadlines and the quantities that are required for these products – 60,000 to 80,000 parts per year — the process has to be precise, faster and more reliable.
That’s why they come to PTA Plastics: “We give PTA the hard stuff,” is the way our client puts it. They recognize that the demanding world of high-volume, high-quality component weapon parts require a partner with the expertise, experience and creativity to get the job done.
So confident, in fact, our customer has been, that they announced the products for an early summer release before we started tooling — the pedal was to the metal, and the pressure on to get the parts produced and delivered within weeks after the announcement.
To mount this challenge, PTA engineered multiple processes and assets, all going at the same time, with 10 to 12 tools released simultaneously at various stages of final design. Some of these tools had as many as 15 or 20 revision cycles, up to and including building entirely new cavities, cores, and slides as our customer made regular revisions toward constant improvement after the molding of the original parts. Parts are field-tested (weapons fired and run through a gauntlet of real-world environmental testing: mud, dirt, sand, water, etc.) and revised based on performance, even as we continue to build new tools.
During this process, PTA Plastics developed some phenomenal designs to allow the building of our molding tools. We also suggested several changes that remain part of our ongoing process with these products to this day; for example, additional clearance or features for form, fit, function and manufacturability.
PTA pushed the envelope using hydraulic and servo-driven actions, as well as slides within slides. We developed an engineering solution for ejecting parts along an arc, making frame sizes smaller and actions work better.
Part geometry is not the only challenge on project’s like this.
Where other suppliers have had problems with wear and tear on machines because of the highly abrasive nature of the high-performance plastics, our molding equipment is holding up fantastically. Our complex, hardened equipment is high-end and top of the line, with high-quality screws and barrels, molds built out of hardened steel and diamond-impregnated XADC coating that increases durability and wear resistance.
PTA Plastics is proud to be an ITAR supplier to our customers in the defense industry. We have a passion for complex assignments that demand the very best in injection molding solutions.