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February 1, 2002

4 Min Read
Industry Watch

GE adds LNP to its plastics materials mix 
General Electric Corp. represents a massive amalgamation of businesses that is displayed vividly by the 25 different units listed on the company's website. These businesses range from aircraft engines to the National Broadcasting Co., and mergers and acquisitions continually add to its ranks, but GE Plastics spokesperson Jay Pomeroy says that while the titanic conglomerate is always looking to add new businesses, it does so with a game plan. He says this philosophy is exemplified by its recent acquisition of custom compounder LNP Engineering Plastics from Kawasaki Steel Corp. of Japan. 

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As part of the terms of its acquisition by GE's plastics division, LNP Engineering Plastics' offices in Exton, PA will serve as the new global headquarters for a custom compounding operation with 13 facilities in nine countries. GE folded its custom engineered product unit into the new LNP operation.


"If you look at GE Plastics, or you take a look at GE in general," Pomeroy says, "our company is about growth. We look at ways to grow our business and look at ways to serve our customers better than ever, and [the LNP acquisition] is going to allow us to do both." 

Pomeroy says LNP's extensive work in nylon and crystalline materials complements GE's plastics group, which was devoid of nylon and primarily features amorphous thermoplastics. Per the deal's terms, LNP will retain its name and operate as an individual entity within GE's corporate structure. In addition, GE will fold its custom engineered product unit into LNP, creating a new compounding operation with 13 facilities in nine countries. 

For LNP spokesperson Jaine Lucas, the retention of LNP's name and GE's concession to allow the company relative autonomy signifies the respect GE has for the custom compounder. 

"Clearly GE has acknowledged the equity in the LNP brand," Lucas says, "and that's pretty significant, because we're not a big company, especially compared to [GE]." 

LNP's work is done on an entirely custom basis, which entails heavy interaction and cooperation with customers. This fact wasn't lost on GE and played a role in its decision to acquire the company. 

"[LNP] has a great reputation in the marketplace with its customers and our customers," Pomeroy says, "and they've got great speed-to-market attributes, and great customer service attributes." 

With the influx of GE's capital, Lucas says LNP hopes to further that reputation around the globe. 

"LNP has always been interested in growing globally," Lucas says. "This acquisition is going to immediately strengthen our reach that way." 

Pomeroy says the immediate impact for GE's bottom line and customers will also be tangible. "This is about revenue growth, profit growth, and it's also about adding value to our customers," Pomeroy says.

Hull/Finmac opens Sesame production
In the hopes of ramping up production of its nanomolding machines to bring them to a larger market, Murray Inc. has granted Hull/Finmac Inc., a division of Hull Corp., an exclusive license to produce the company's Sesame nanomolding machine. The machine (see "Tiebar-free Hybrid Micromolding Machine," January 1999 IMM, p. 138 for the initial report) was created by Murray to meet the specific process needs of a medical customer's application. But Murray envisioned broader uses for the product, and it sought and was granted a patent for the press. Since the original production for that customer in 1998, however, only three more machines have been created. 

An engineering and design firm specializing in medical devices, Murray realized it needed help to fabricate the Sesame on a larger scale. Enter Hull/Finmac. 

"[Murray] is not really a machinery manufacturer," explains Bob Boland, Hull/Finmac's sales manager, "so they were looking for a niche-oriented machinery manufacturer, and that's what Hull is. [Hull] could market these machines, build these machines, and also have the capability of servicing these machines." 

If ambitious sales forecasts are met, Hull hopes to manufacture 25 total Sesames for all of 2002. Working in conjunction with Murray, Hull will present the Sesame as a fully optimized, turnkey solution to molders. 

"We would take a customer's product and say, 'We'll produce the molding system for you, which would include the press, the mold, and the process,'" Boland says. With the assistance of Murray, Boland says this end-to-end service will also include initial part design. Pricing for the bench-top Sesame nanomolding machine ranges from $55,000 to $65,000, depending on the package chosen; the press is available with an 840-lb or a 3000-lb clamp. 

Short shots
The Society of the Plastics Industry's Committee on Equipment Statistics released Q3 data on machine shipments, which continue to show marked declines from 2000. Shipments for Q3 2001 were down 56 percent in units and 51 percent in dollar value compared to Q3 2000. 

Spirex (Youngstown, OH) and Bimetalix (Sullivan, WI) have merged in a deal that melds complementary capabilities. Spirex already manufactures screws, valves, and other front-end components, and it now adds barrels, Bimetalix's primary product. 

Hunkar Laboratories (Cincinnati, OH) expanded its presence in automated manufacturing and warehouse management with the acquisition of EVItrak Technologies (Norwalk, OH). EVItrak provides data acquisition hardware and software. 

Valeo (Paris, France) sold its Saint Savine molding operation to NEIF Plastics (Paris, France). The Saint Savine plant and its 335 employees will join NEIF's four existing facilities in France. 

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