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Suncast order a good sign for accumulator-head sector

By: Michael Lauzon

March 29, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (March 29, 4:40 p.m. ET) — After years of being in the doldrums, markets for big, accumulator-head blow molding machines have been making a resurgence, according to one of the major machinery suppliers.

Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH recorded sales of 96 million euros ($127.3 million) last year, up from 74 million euros ($98.1 million) in 2010, estimated Bill Farrant, president of U.S.-based Kautex Machines Inc. (Booth 1751).

Kautex recently registered a large single order for large blow molders at Suncast Corp. of Batavia, Ill., which is using them to make garden sheds, deck boxes and other large, flat panels.

Suncast did not disclose the size of the investment. Farrant said it was a multi-machine, multi-million dollar order. Sources told Plastics News that the order was for between four and six machines.

The order was an unusual one. More typical are rising shipments for vehicle gas tanks, especially in China and Asia, Farrant said in a pre-NPE interview from his office in North Branch, N.J.

“Automotive is a big reason for the growth,” Farrant explained. In 2011 automotive applications accounted for about half of Kautex’s global sales.

Suncast has mainly been an injection molder of lawn and garden, storage, pet products and snow tool products. It contracted out blow molding of large parts but wanted to bring the work in house

“The project was a huge challenge, but we have a strong team spirit in Suncast and have built a group that has become passionate about the blow molding process and its potential,” said Mary Ann Mings, Suncast vice president of manufacturing, in a news release.

“Suncast had a vision to embrace the full potential of the blow molding process for their products and recognized the advantages of the new technology system and Kautex equipment, which they are utilizing to great effect,” added Chuck Flammer, vice president of sales at Kautex Machines Inc.

Farrant said Suncast bought KBS241 models specifically designed for flat panels. They were originally developed for auto parts. Clamping force ranges up to 330 tons and the machines have extra-large mold platens making new product development easier. Kautex claims the technology saves high density polyethylene molding materials and cuts cycle times.

Suncast took less than a year to complete the installation of the Kautex machines after renovating a warehouse into a production shop. The private company was founded in 1984.

Kautex Maschinenbau of Bonn, Germany, manufactures its machinery in Germany and China.