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Mar-Lee Mold plans to expand capacity

LEOMINSTER, MASS. — Mar-Lee Mold Co. and its Priority Manufacturing Corp. custom injection molding division plan to add capacity after recently spending about $1 million on expansions.

Mar-Lee added a new wire electric discharge machine, a new Mitsubishi machining center and Hewlett Packard three-dimensional solid modeling software at its Leominster operation. Mar-Lee plans further equipment additions this year, but it did not disclose details. It also aims to gain ISO 9002 registration by October.

Priority Manufacturing added two more injection presses, an 85-ton Niigata and a 350-ton Impco, at Fitchburg, Mass., early this year. Stan Bowker, technical sales manager, said his firm eventually plans to buy a 26,000-square-foot facility next door and install more presses.

In the past 18 months, Priority Manufacturing has boosted its press count from seven to 16, with clamping forces of 22-750 tons. Priority Manufacturing moved to Fitchburg in late 1995 from a smaller facility in Leominster.

Bowker said Priority Manufacturing's sales grew about 87 percent in 1996 while the mold-making business increased sales by about 25 percent. Overall, the two operations grew 48 percent, but Bowker and other officials did not provide dollar figures. Priority Manufacturing's main markets are medical and consumer products, according to Bowker. Mar-Lee makes molds for diverse markets, including electronics, medical and consumer products.

Zoltech chooses Texas for carbon fiber plant

ST. LOUIS — After a year-long search, Zoltek Cos. Inc. selected an Abilene, Texas, site for the build-up of its domestic carbon fiber manufacturing capacity.

Zoltek this year plans to install three continuous carbonization lines in a new, 140,000-square-foot building in Abilene and two identical lines to create carbon-fiber capability at its facility in Nyergesujfalu, Hungary.

Currently, Zoltek's St. Charles, Mo., plant can make about 3.5 million pounds of carbon fiber annually. Each new line adds about 1 million pounds of capacity.

An Abilene agency provided Zoltek with economic incentives including tax abatement, room for expansion and a low-cost, immediately available facility. The company cited climate, energy costs and the labor market as factors in the site selection. Zoltek said it plans to employ 65 in Abilene by Sept. 30 and more than 250 as production lines are added.

St. Louis-based Zoltek, which trades on Nasdaq, reported profit of $6.2 million on sales of nearly $69 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Zoltek competes directly with Akzo Nobel NV's Fortafil Fibers unit of Knoxville, Tenn., and RK International Ltd. of Muir of Ord, Scotland.

Nova selects Stone to market technology

TORONTO — Nova Chemicals Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, chose Stone & Webster Canada Ltd. of Toronto to be its global marketer of crystal and impact polystyrene technology.

Stone & Webster already was designing Nova's new ethylene plant in Joffre, Alberta, and is a contractor for Nova's Sclairtech linear polyethylene technology.

Nova has more than 1.3 billion pounds of annual styrenics capacity in North America.