MILACRON STEPS UP PACE IN INDIA

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Cincinnati Milacron Inc.'s 3-year-old joint venture in India is building a $7 million assembly factory in Ahmedabad to triple injection molding machine production—and plans call for expanding into manufacturing blow molding and extrusion equipment.

Production began at the joint venture, formed by Milacron and Indian businessman Mahendra Patel, in late 1995. In 1996, the first full year of production, the leased plant built 85 machines, Milacron reported.

Injection press production reached about 200 units in 1997, according to Thomas Zacharias, Milacron's business manager of Indian operations.

The joint venture is called Cincinnati Milacron Pvt. Ltd. About 150 people work there now, Zacharias said.

The new plant, which should be completed later in the second quarter, will boost production capacity to 600 injection presses a year.

``The growth curve has been phenomenal,'' Zacharias said. ``We are already the second-largest domestic producer of injection molding machines in India.''

The new plant, which will be owned by the Milacron/Patel joint venture, is about a mile from its original leased facility, located in the same industrial park. Ahmedabad is about 300 miles north of Bombay, in the center of India's plastics industry.

Employees are building two types of molding machines: Sigma presses, in clamping forces of 30-400 tons; and Magna machines, in 550-, 660-, 775- and 910-ton sizes. The plant can make presses as large as 3,000 tons.

Zacharias said the plant serves the large Indian market and exports machines to other Asian nations, Africa and the Middle East. India, with a middle class of some 250 million people and a rapidly growing automotive industry, has strong demand for consumer goods.

``Within the next five years, plastics resin consumption is expected to double,'' he said.

Milacron's Plastics Technologies Group in Batavia, Ohio, reported $736 million in 1997 sales. Company leaders have said they want all of Milacron's global operations to be able to manufacture the full line of Milacron machines.

Zacharias said the new plant eventually will be capable of making blow molding machines and extrusion systems. He gave no timetable.

He said Milacron was not releasing the square-footage of the new factory.

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