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Short Shots: From the Industry Floor 20869

March 1, 2008

7 Min Read
Short Shots: From the Industry Floor

Consolidating American operations, Engel to close Canadian factory

Citing the shrinkage in the North American consumption of injection molding machines, Austrian-based global machine supplier Engel (www.engelglobal.com) announced it will cease manufacturing activity in its Guelph, ON factory by the end of May 2008. All of Engel’s North American manufacturing will now be done in its York, PA facility, which previously had produced only larger machines. Sales, service, training, and tech center activities will be maintained in or near Guelph, as will the design and implementation of turnkey molding cell automation systems.

The Guelph factory’s 258 employees have been supplying small and midsized molding machines to the North American market for about 30 years. Those machines will now be made in the York factory. Engel is negotiating with a potential buyer for the Guelph manufacturing facility.

Noting that the decline in North American molding machine sales from 6200 in 2000 to around 3000 in 2007 necessitated this consolidation, Steve Braig, president and CEO of Engel North America, said, “By utilizing our global manufacturing capability we are able to more cost-effectively serve all our North American customers through one facility.”

Speaking with IMM during the Plastec West show in Anaheim, CA on Jan. 30, Jim Moran, Engel’s VP sales for North America, said, “The company is absolutely, unequivocally committed to growing its business in Canada and all of North America.” He said the consolidation in York, PA will add 70-80 new jobs there in the relatively near term.

Moran also noted that Engel had recently expanded its North American sales staff and is accelerating the opening of previously planned new technical centers. The first to open most likely will be in Mexico to support growth in automotive and other sectors there.

Moran emphasized that Engel, by virtue of being largely family owned, is able to call its own shots without oversight by one or more outside investors. Further, he said that the company is not only solvent but also financially strong on a global basis. This consolidation, he added, is actually a “right-sizing” of Engel’s North American operations for the current and anticipated market, and that the largest portion of Engel’s customers are in the United States.—RN

(Top) Boney Mathew and Congressman Gresham Barrett at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Mathson’s new plant in South Carolina. (Bottom) A supplier to BMW, Mathson operates cells exclusively run with Negri Bossi presses.

Mathson Industries’ grand opening

A minority supplier providing design, engineering, and injection molding of plastics, elastomers, ceramics, and metals, Mathson Industries Inc. (www.mathson.com), headquartered in Troy, MI, recently opened a brand-new 103,000-ft2 manufacturing facility in Hodges, SC. Its $5 million capital investment includes manufacturing cells equipped with 80- to 3000-ton presses from Negri Bossi. It plans to create 50 new jobs in the area.

“We are so pleased to open our new facility in South Carolina. The cooperation among the state and local officials, as well as the strong business environment in South Carolina, made our decision to locate in Greenwood County an easy choice,” says Boney Mathew, president and CEO of Mathson.

The company is the first BMW supplier to locate in the Greenwood County area. BMW reportedly has 50 suppliers in South Carolina, investing more than $2 billion there since 1992. At a dinner and awards ceremony following the ribbon cutting, Mathew presented the Mathson Global Innovation Award to Jean-Michel Rosset of BMW Procurement NA, and also presented the Mathson Global Supplier of the Year Award to Negri Bossi Inc.’s Liam Burns and Eugenio Ferragina, the managing director of Negri Bossi/Sacmi Group of Italy.—CK

Eastek buys multishot machine for Chinese plant

One U.S. molder has raised the bar in its southern China manufacturing facility with the addition of a new 80-ton multishot injection machine. Eastek International (Buffalo Grove, IL; www.eastek-intl.com) already has two clients for the two-shot machine: a major telecom/wireless device company and a golf club manufacturer. According to the company, the new press enables Eastek to overmold with more complex configurations; run faster cycles than when using two machines; and create stronger, higher-quality products. More multishot equipment acquisitions are expected in 2008.—AC

BASF reorganizes masterbatches

BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com) is renaming its European masterbatch business BASF Color Solutions as part of a reorganization to be completed by March. The division will focus on six markets: packaging, construction, household products, sport and leisure, automotive, and fibers.—AC

Hasco has new CEO

Christoph Ehrlich is the new CEO of the Hasco Group worldwide, represented here by Hasco (Arden, NC; www.hasco.com), a supplier of mold bases and components, and hot runner systems and controls.—CK

An automated molder-built cell

Automated loading of inserts into precision-molded gears and automated unloading of finished gears is being accomplished by gear-molder/moldmaking specialists ABA-PGT (Manchester, CT; www.abapgt.com) in a flexible automation cell designed and built in-house. The cell is engineered for lower-scale production—40,000-50,000 parts/year—that doesn’t warrant ABA-PGT’s purchase of an independent, dedicated, fully automated cell.

Its customers’ capital investment is minimal. They need only purchase the EOAT, pallet inserts, and trays, if they’re required. ABA-PGT handles the rest, according to Rick Wheeler, president.

A 110-ton, 3.42-oz (PS) Cincinnati Milacron Roboshot all-electric press is used. Generally, a mold-open distance of 9 inches or more is required. A hot sprue bushing maximizes mold-open distance. Either two- or three-plate molds can be used. And molds up to 16 inches wide by 24 inches tall by 17 inches in stack height can be used.

“Molds of one or two cavities will generally provide optimum performance,” Wheeler says. “Consideration may be given to four-cavity tools. However, at this cavitation, a dedicated, fully automated cell may be more cost effective. Part sizes up to 4 inches in diameter with weights up to 60g can be molded in a single-cavity mold.”

A variety of inserts can be used, including screw-machined shafts and stamped inserts. Insert lengths need to be less than 3.5 inches, though. And the thermoformed tray sizes that can be accommodated range up to 14 by 17 inches.

Manual labor is used only a few times per shift to orient the inserts in ABA-PGT’s precision pallets and deliver them to the cell. From there, a five-axis servo robot loads the inserts, removes the parts, and palletizes finished product, when required.

Compared to manual insert loading and part removal, Wheeler says the advantages of ABA-PGT’s flexible automated cell include repeatable cycle time, resulting in more dimensionally stable parts with consistent material properties; reduced chance of part damage during handling; reduced chance of mold damage due to human error; and reduced cost through faster cycles and less manual labor.—CK

MIM plant molds for medical

At its newly renovated 150,000-ft2, state-of-the-art manufacturing and research facility in Clifton, NJ, the PhD- and Masters’-level engineers at family-owned and -operated Polymer Technologies Inc. (PTI; www.polymertechnologies.com) are designing and manufacturing medical implants precision molded from medically approved high-performance engineering and commodity resins, metals, and combinations of the two.

Working in strong partnerships with its clients, knee and acetabular cups, hip replacements, dental appliances, implants, and surgical instrumentation are among the products PTI has developed and delivered. High-volume, multicavity molding of net-shaped metal components reduces the number of parts in such applications and eliminates the need for secondaries, like laser welding.

Among the engineering plastics run at PTI are PPA, PLA, TPE, PMMA, PEEK, PPA, and PLA. Its also runs TPE, PP, PS, PE, PVOH, and PC. PTI employs a variety of metal powders in the feedstocks it uses to manufacture its parts, including 316-L, 17-4 PH, and 400 series stainless steels, titanium, and cobalt chrome. It also uses Moldflow software to quickly develop low-cost ­prototype tooling.—CK

Hall of Fame nominations open

If you know someone who is worthy of a place in the Plastics Hall of Fame, you can now nominate him or her for induction in 2009. New living inductees are elected every three years by a majority vote of members, and are honored at a ceremony held during NPE.

Those nominated should be “industry professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the plastics industry in the course of their distinguished careers,” according to The Plastics Academy, the Hall of Fame’s organizing body. Plastics Academy officers and directors recommend up to 12 individuals for final consideration by Hall of Fame members, who choose up to nine people to be inducted. To make your nomination, go to www.plasticshalloffame.com and click on “Nominations” for a form.—AC

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