Custom Manufacturer Leverages Experience to Make Better Parts

By Mark Shortt — Design-2-Part Magazine —

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Given Garner Industries’ history of retaining key employees, it’s not surprising that John Kunkle, the firm’s sales manager, calls Garner’s “duration and depth of experience” one of the company’s most important strengths.

Garner Industries established in 1953, is a veteran-owned machine shop and custom parts manufacturer that specializes in plastic injection molding and precision CNC machining of metals and plastics. Several of Garner’s managers—in roles from senior management to engineering, injection molding processing, and sales—have been with the company for 20 to 30 years, according to Kunkle.

“Our staff not only knows how to make a part, but how to make it better,” Kunkle said in an emailed response. “We don’t just blindly quote a part from a print—we work with the customer to define what is needed. We offer suggestions to improve the part or reduce cost, offer material options if possible, and verify tolerances and expectations before starting the project.”

As a provider of machine shop services, Garner employs CNC milling and turning to produce parts from common metals—such as steel,  aluminum, brass, and stainless steel—and from exotic alloys, like Inconel and Hastelloy. The company also machines a wide range of plastics, including PTFE, PEEK™, and Ultem®. To complement these machining capabilities, Garner offers custom tool building and wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) services in-house.

Among the wide variety of parts produced by Garner are CNC machined and injection molded components used in motors, actuators, and valves for aerospace and aviation customers. The company makes high-pressure CNC machined housings, submersible pump components, and molded connectors for the oil and gas industry. Garner also manufactures machined and molded components for government and defense prime contractors and subcontractors, as well as injection molded components, antennas, battery cases, and housings for the telecommunications industry.

The company recently built a 40,000-square-foot addition to house three new 500-ton injection molding presses, a robotic foam-in-place gasketing cell, and expanded warehousing capabilities. Today, Garner runs three shifts at its 115,000-square-foot facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, employing 140 people, Kunkle said.

The collective experience of Garner’s managerial staff is invaluable to customers in a number of ways. For one, it enables Garner to provide consultation and expertise—in manufacturing capabilities, material selection, and tool design—to assist customers in making educated decisions about critical components.

For injection molding projects, Garner’s team talks with customers about the tooling that will support their requirements most effectively—tooling that’s built domestically, or tooling that’s built offshore. They work with customers to “offer the best solution for cavity count to balance their tooling cost versus part cost,” Kunkle said. And while developing a customer’s mold design, Garner can provide Moldflow analysis “at no extra cost to define best gate location and identify areas that are susceptible to warp or shrinkage before completing the mold design,” he explained.

“Next, we will submit a DFM (design for manufacturing) report to the customer to outline gating, ejection, and parting line split, as well as requirements for slides, lifters, and any other concerns with the part design or tool design. Once the customer approves the report, we will complete the mold layout for the customer to review and approve, as desired,” Kunkle said.

Garner’s injection molding presses range in clamping force from 35 to 500 tons, enabling the firm to mold small, medium-size, and large components. The firm’s injection molding experience also includes manufacturing hydraulic and pneumatic seals for the agriculture industry; components for PPE, ventilators, and respirators for the medical industry; shunts for the electronics industry; and commercial and industrial air filter components for the transportation sector. Garner also makes injection molded and machined archery components for the sporting goods industry, Kunkle said.

The company’s quality assurance laboratory is staffed on all three daily shifts. The lab is equipped with three coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), including a programmable Zeiss and a Sprint with dual vision and CMM capabilities.

“We are dedicated to quality and are certified to ISO 9001 quality-management system requirements,” Kunkle said. “Injection molding tolerances are always variable, depending on the material being molded and the size of the dimension being molded. Some fine details can be held to +/-0.001 inch, but tolerances in that range need to be specifically discussed during the project review process.”

Garner’s quality management system is ISO 9001:2015 certified for precision CNC machining, tooling, and plastics injection molding. Its quality certification also applies to software and the design and manufacture of level controls and sensors, according to the firm’s registration certificate.