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Rauschert Industries Inc. next year will expand its sole U.S. production facility in Madisonville, Tenn., boosting capacity about 25 percent in three years.

The custom plastic and thermoplastic elastomer molder by the end of the year will complete preliminary plans to add 17,000 square feet to its 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, said President Tom P. Rauschert.

Construction is slated to begin sometime next year, and the project may bolster the plant's employment to 70 from 50 in two years, Rauschert said. Although the company has not finalized project costs, the president estimates construction expenses will reach $600,000. Additional equipment costs have not been determined.

Rauschert Industries molds various TPE components for industries such as automotive, and lawn and garden.

The firm in 1996 invested about $400,000 in three TPE injection molding machines, which hiked the unit's capacity 5 percent and increased employment by three. Rauschert Industries now boasts 25 injection machines with clamping forces of 20-300 tons.

The firm posted 1996 sales of about $8.5 million.It employs more than 700 worldwide.