HUSKY HONES MOLD-MAKING FOCUS

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Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. is focusing its mold-making attention on Husky's strongest areas — thin-wall packaging, PET preform molds and hot runners — and will work with outside mold makers to serve other markets where it has less expertise.

Husky, as part of the Jan. 7 announcement, also said it was closing its 35-employee factory in Auburn, Mass., that manufacturers pail molds. Some of the employees will relocate to Husky headquarters in Bolton, Ontario, where Husky will continue to make packaging molds and hot-runner systems. The company will strengthen its preform mold business by providing bottle development services in Bolton.

Husky said its pail mold-making work will go to Top Grade Machining Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario. Husky and Top Grade have worked together on projects before.

Husky makes injection molding machines, molds and hot-runner systems. Husky officials said they plan to beef up Husky's in-house traditional packaging mold business, while forming alliances with outside firms to make other types of molds. The company also will begin supplying complete hot-runner mold bases.

The ``other markets'' category is growing rapidly, as Husky diversifies into general-purpose molding markets with its Module G Series of injection press, introduced last summer, according to Michael Urquhart, vice president of service and sales. ``It's very applicable to a much wider range of the market, such as automotive and technical parts,'' he said.

Urquhart said Husky already has relationships with some mold makers that serve those markets, by supplying them with hot-runner components. Since Husky officials do not want to compete against these customers — and Husky does not have much experience in making those types of molds anyway — the company plans to share some of its technology with the firms. Among the technology it will share: stack molds, unscrewing mechanisms and in-mold handling.

Currently, Husky is working on projects with Unique Mold Makers Ltd. in Toronto and the Precise Massie division of Precise Technology Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Last year, Husky realigned its European mold-making operations. Husky closed a plant making molds and hot runners in Weisbaden, Germany, and moved production to its manufacturing campus in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

In September, Husky announced it was building a major U.S. facility in Milton, Vt. Husky initially plans to make hot-runner systems in Vermont.