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Hardigg Industries Inc. began operating a new, large rotational molding machine in mid-January in South Deerfield, Mass.

Hardigg installed the biggest Ferry Industries Inc. biaxial rotomolder built to date, said Dennis Brazelton, sales manager for Stow, Ohio-based Ferry. The RS-550 can accommodate a mold with a 209-inch diagonal and comes equipped with the latest process controls. The three-station machine is 27 feet high.

Mike Otto, Hardigg's sales manager for custom products, said his firm has begun rotomolding 14-foot-long kayaks for Walden Paddlers Inc. of Concord, Mass. It uses a mixture of post-consumer and in-house recycled polyethylene. The kayaks are marketed as 100 percent recycled. Hardigg has rotomolded smaller kayaks for Walden, but needed the RS-550 to handle Walden's recently introduced 14-foot model.

Otto said in a telephone interview that his firm also will mold other watercraft, large tanks and materials-handling products on its new rotomolder. In smaller parts, Hardigg has been diversifying into pallets, backboards, point-of-purchase displays and a range of other goods.

Hardigg expects a slowdown in one of its main markets, engineered shipping containers for defense electronics. It has been making the containers for about half of its more than 40 years in business.

Hardigg invested more than $400,000 in the new rotomolder, ancillary equipment and building modifications. For the year ended June 30, it had rotomolding sales of about $20 million. Otto said the company also operates an injection molding facility in Columbus, Ind., that makes battery components for industrial equipment, such as forklifts.