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November 26, 1999

4 Min Read
Meet Waffer, the world's largest TXM molder

In 1997, Taiwan’s oldest plastics custom molder, Waffer Industrial Corp., formed a division specializing in TXM. Since then, the company’s annual sales have grown from NT$ 80 million (US$ 2.5 million) to NT$ 1 billion (US$ 31.7 million). An overnight sensation, Waffer’s TXM division has emerged as the superstar of the Waffer group, which also includes plastics products, consumer products, and environmental protection subsidiaries.

Expanding its commitment to TXM, Waffer has added seven 650-ton molding machines to its TXM stable, which already includes 14 machines ranging from 50 to 75 tons. Also, an 850-ton machine has been ordered. Waffer plans to buy some more 650 tonners before June 2000, and is confident that it will have a total of 30 to 40 TXM presses running before New Year’s Day 2001. Still, like most overnight sensations, company sources admit that achieving TXM superstardom has been anything but easy and hardly happened overnight.

Privately held, Waffer started in 1950. It was the first company in the R.O.C. to specialize in plastics injection molding and grew to become the island’s largest custom molder. Waffer’s specialty then was molding large parts—like TV cases, refrigerator interiors, washing machine tubs, and baskets—on machines up to 1800 tons. But competition grew, customers began moving elsewhere, and margins shrunk.

New Directions
Mike Chiu came in as chairman of Waffer in the mid-1990s and restructured the company. However, he maintained Waffer’s original mission of wanting to be, as it says, “excellent, superior, and passionate”—the best and the biggest in anything it does. Waffer began investigating new growth opportunities and in 1997 it chanced upon a magazine article on molding magnesium. After intensive scrutiny, the company decided to import the technology the following year.

Waffer stunned JSW with the scope of its aggressive business plan, but eventually was able to convince the machinery supplier of its sincere commitment to succeed. Though Waffer lacked experience in molding magnesium, it had nearly 50 years of experience in injection molding and was prepared to scale down its molding business and take an entire year off to learn everything it could about TXM. With the sheer size of the operation it envisioned, Waffer was confident that it could help JSW popularize its TXM machines and the process. And Waffer has the financial resources to keep its promises.

Today, after tens of millions of U.S. dollars of capital investment, many sleepless nights, and more than a few new gray hairs for its management, Waffer’s TXM operation has become a vertically integrated one-stop TXM shop that defines the technological state of the art in the mass production of parts molded in AZ91D.

In April 1999 Waffer produced only 5000 parts per month. By September, that number had increased 20 times. And by the end of December, Waffer is confident production will double, up to more than 400,000 parts per month.

King of the Hill
Waffer is the undisputed king of .8-mm-thin TXM notebook computer cases, sourcing 95 percent of its business from that market. Customers, which include First Tier suppliers to Apple, Dell, and Compaq, are drawing the company into newer consumer electronics applications. Telecommunications, automotive, optical, defense, and consumer industrial market opportunities beckon.

The company’s operations sprawl over three locations: a 9256-sq-m headquarters in Taipei, and two plants in Taoyuan, 10,000 sq m and 21,636 sq m, respectively. The plants run 24/7, with two 12-hour shifts. Waffer offers its customers a full array of contract manufacturing services to help speed their new products to market:

  • Parts development.

  • Prototyping.

  • Tool design and manufacturing.

  • TXM and plastics injection molding.

  • Surface treatment.

  • Painting and plating.

  • Assembly.

  • Packaging.

Waffer’s heavy investment into CAD/CAM software, process automation, and CNC machining systems helps keep its leadtime promises. It has, for example, 25 CNC machines dedicated to secondaries, like drilling, tapping, degating, and deflashing, that are usually done manually. Waffer plans to have 150 more CNCs dedicated to secondaries by mid-2000. Waffer has no intention of resting, and will continue to invest in growing its TXM business. It may go public in a few years to help support even further growth. Meanwhile, Waffer’s goals are as clear as they were 50 years ago—to be the best and biggest.

Contact information
Waffer Industrial Corp.
Taoyuan City, Taiwan
Ming-Liang Tu
Phone: +886 (3) 367-5398
Fax: +886 (3) 364-1046
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.waffer.com.tw

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