MMI adds injection molding machines, announces Negri Bossi partnership

MMI Engineered Solutions (MMI; Saline, MI) is investing $2 million in its Saline, MI plant, which will also become an occasional showcase for Negri Bossi injection molding technology as part of an agreement the custom molder reached with the Italian press manufacturer.

"We actually partnered with Negri Bossi to essentially be their showcase in North America," MMI President and COO Doug Callahan told PlasticsToday. "We went out to the industry, all the press makers, and evaluated them all, including their technology, their pricing, and machines available, because our focus is on growing our company, and we're growing now."

MMI Engineering Solutions
Left to right are MMI's Tom Elkington, Doug Callahan, and Gary Cronenwett.

Callahan told PlasticsToday that MMI is adding three injection molding machines, expanding its central material handling system, and installing automation. The presses to be added include 85, 470 and 2250 ton machines, with the smallest from Nissei and the remaining systems from Negri Bossi. The company will eventually have 13 injection molding machines in total. Installations of the new presses will start in August, with plans for the large 2250 ton to arrive around Labor Day and be in production by October 1.

Callahan said MMI will install automation on all the new machines, as well as adding it to some existing presses, and invest in an RJG eDart interface for the large Negri Bossi, a VH2000-22500 two-platen design, as part of a broader scientific molding strategy.

"eDart is a new technology for us," Callahan said. "Scientific molding is part of our strategic plan, where we put together molding fundamentals. We've started to get into a lot more complex products that have higher requirements on tolerances. Our molding fundamentals have to be solid, and some of our past practices haven't utilized good mold operation."

Callahan said the company is increasingly trying to match molds to machines, in terms of shot size and screw, controlling overall variation. "Really, it's about improving set ups, reducing scrap and increasing throughput," Callahan said. The company also sent some of its process engineers out to RJG for its Master Molder training.

In addition to equipment and training, MMI has invested in people, adding operators, sales staff, and tooling personnel, as well as an application engineer, designer, and IT specialist over the last year, so that there are now about 75 full-time employees.

Implementing a new strategy
Callahan came to MMI in August 2012 from molder and extruder MPC Inc. (Walworth, WI) where he served as VP of engineering. When he arrived, the company began formulating a new business strategy.

"We put together a strategic plan looking at where we wanted to focus our energy and growth," Callahan said. "Those areas are where I hired a couple sales people, which generated opportunities and business wins, and that's led to adding people equipment, and capacity, as we continue to work our strategy."

Callahan said MMI has two business segments: material handling, including large trays, and component applications for the heavy truck market. Within those space, the company targets lower volume jobs that require higher tonnage machines, tapping into unmet demand in the market for both.

"One focus is on low-volume/high-mix applications for automotive and heavy truck," Callahan said. "With the increase in activity in the auto industry, a lot of injection molders that are out there are high-volume shops that don't want to deal with the low-volume jobs. That's a niche we fill; we're picking up a lot of that business."

Along those lines, Callahan said as long as there's not a competitive issue, MMI can offer "bridge capacity" to molders who need time on a large press but can't find open capacity internally.

MMI, formerly Molded Materials Inc., is headquartered in Saline with an engineering and sales office in Troy. The Saline facility covers 80,000 sq ft.

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