U.S. STILL THE LAND OF PRIME MOLD MAKERS

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Regarding Clare Goldsberry's Page 1, Dec. 9 article, ``OEMs ponder offshore mold makers.''

Having spent considerable time in the Far East establishing joint-venture firms for D-M-E Co., and currently representing mold makers in the Far East, Latin America and the United States, I concur with much of the article.

There is, however, one specific statement that may be misleading to your readers and deserves comment and clarification before it becomes a statistic and Plastics News is cited as the credible source of the report.

The statement is: ``According to one report, more than 70 percent of U.S. mold requirements will be built in Asia by the year 2005.''

The actual source and evolution of this statement are as follows: At a meeting of the Third International Conference on Die and Mould Technology in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sept. 7-8, 1995, the chairman (a Taiwanese) made the following ambitious challenge:

``Asia will be a worldwide hub of the mold and die industry. We are presently contributing 40 percent of world output in 1995.'' (This is highly unlikely). ``We will be increasing our market share to 70 percent in 2001, and we will exceed 90 percent in 2005.''

This statement was included in an article written by Matthew B. Coffey, president of the National Tooling & Machining Association and published in the November 1995 issue of the NTMA Record. It was reprinted in the fall 1996 issue of the Society of Plastics Engineers Mold Making & Mold Design Division newsletter.

The original article by Coffey also states the following:

``The global market for dies, molds and precision machining is estimated by the International Special Tooling Association at $65 billion. The U.S. share of that market is estimated at $20 billion, with the remainder in Europe. In order to achieve their goal, the Asians will have to virtually wipe out the North American and European competition.''

Goldsberry's article begins by reporting that as firms locate plants globally, the demand for offshore molds is becoming stronger. This is logical since most molders want their tooling sources available, within reasonable range, for engineering changes, service and maintenance.

It ends by quoting a Vancouver, Wash., molder who has ``to go offshore because we don't have enough mold-making shops [in the Northwest] to handle the volume of work.''

Has he not heard of the Midwest or New England?

I represent several offshore mold makers who have been requested by their offshore molders/customers to locate mold-making facilities in the United States or arrange for technical assistance agreements with U.S. mold makers to build and service their molds running in their U.S. ``transplants.''

You are certainly aware of the move from Japan of several auto and electronic companies to the United States as well as Mercedes and BMW from Germany. They are all beginning to require U.S. sources of component parts and tooling.

Frank S. Marra

Marra International Associates

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.