ITALIAN PRESS MAKER TARGETING U.S. MARKET

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Nuova Plastic Metal srl (Booth N7032) is entering the U.S. market for injection molding presses.

NPM specializes in toggle machines, which it claims are faster, more accurate, more reliable and more cost-effective than hydraulic piston presses. It makes presses from 45-2,000 tons and offers Unyka general-purpose presses, Dynamika high-speed machines, and multiple-component presses.

``We understand the U.S. market is an extremely competitive one, and that almost every injection molding manufacturer in the world is, or has already been there,'' Antonio Virginio, the company's president and owner, said in a news release. ``However, it is an extremely sophisticated market, where a product is judged based on its technical merits, and this is the light under which we wish to be evaluated.''

NPM makes about 250 injection presses annually and logged sales of about $30 million last year. It mainly sells in Europe and South America but has sold ``a handful'' of presses to molders in Canada, according to Merrick Adelstein, export manager. It was established in 1954.

NPM plans to set up a North American office, Merrick explained in a telephone interview from NPM's headquarters in Chiampo, Italy, about 45 minutes west of Venice. The office location might depend on where it captures most of its new business, but the northeastern or midwestern United States and Toronto are current candidates.

Adelstein said NPM's North American office will manage sales and service teams, stock spare parts and provide backup. It is too early to know whether NPM eventually will manufacture presses in North America. The Italian company also owns a subsidiary that makes auxiliary equipment, but NPM's focus here will be injection press sales.

NPM machines all its press components in Chiampo to give it flexibility to customize presses. It only buys special systems, such as servo valves, pumps and electronics.

It cited as an example of customization a 700-ton vertical press with three independent injection units and a rotary table, which it built for a leading ski boot manufacturer. Another unusual press was an extended opening stroke toggle machine with a patented seven-point toggle clamp, instead of the usual five. An undisclosed household products molder in Argentina wanted the press to make a very deep product with a large surface area.

Adelstein said NPM is building a new headquarters and plant in Montebello, about five miles from Chiampo, which will double its production capacity. This facility, about 150,000 square feet in area, will make large presses when it opens late this year. He estimated its cost at about US$10 million, not including equipment. The Chiampo facility will continue machining components and assembling smaller presses.

NPM microprocessor controls are based on the Intel 486 chip. They include a light-emitting-diode video screen, and flat touch-type key pad mounted on a vibration-resistant casing.