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California molder adds equipment, pursuing medical market

By: Roger Renstrom

December 10, 2013

A&S Mold and Die Corp. of Chatsworth, Calif., is installing its 47th injection molding machine — a hybrid-servo 950-ton Toshiba with a 250-ounce shot size — in December.

The custom injection molder and mold maker is moving into the market for disposable medical applications.

“We are thinking about building a formal clean room in the near future,” said President Arno Adlhoch. “I still have faith and hope in manufacturing in southern California.”

Adlhoch and his sister, Karen Adlhoch, co-own the business that their late father, Hugo, developed and operated. Arno deals with operations, and Karen handles human resource, legal and accounting functions.

Equipped with a Wittmann robot, the new Toshiba ISGT950WII-S has a special wide platen that is usually used on a 1,450-ton machine.

“We were turning away some business needing a larger press size,” Arno Adlhoch said. “To turn away business is very hard.”

Principally, A&S molds telecommunications racking systems, aircraft armrests, consumer housewares and drip irrigation components.

For an important aircraft program, “we started out machining blank shells for the armrests,” he said. “Our customer does the entire interior of the aircraft. Eventually, we added functions” including the molding of components of high-impact flame-resistant polycarbonate.

A&S gained the capability to process the required traceability paperwork for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification. For that aspect, “we needed to upgrade our systems” in material requirements planning capabilities, Adlhoch said.

The A&S mold shop’s computer numerical control capabilities include a three-axis vertical machining center and a sinker electric discharge machine.

Depending on work load, A&S employs70-100 including four mold makers, and the firm occupies 50,000 square feet.

A&S operates Arburg vertical-capable presses for close-tolerance, insert-molding and smaller requirements starting at a clamping force of 22 tons. The firm has a rotary vertical Engel, numerous Toyos in the 500-ton range and another 950-ton Toshiba that was acquired about a decade ago.

“We have the first large Toyo sold in the States,” he said. Large, in this case, is relative at 145 tons.

Adlhoch projects 2013 sales being 15 percent higher than those in 2012. A&S withholds sales figures.

Hugo Adlhoch was born in Speyer, Germany, and trained as a mold maker apprentice at BASF SE before immigrating to Montreal at age 19. He moved his family to Santa Monica, Calif., and, in 1969 with short-time partner Fred Shapstau, founded a mold shop in Burbank, Calif. The business moved to Chatsworth in the mid-1970s and started injection molding for sampling with the smallest available Arburg. He died in August 2012 at the age of 74.

His son recalls that Hugo Adlhoch used lights-out injection molding before the advent of remote monitoring alerts and fixes. Before leaving the shop for dinner with his family, he would call home and set the phone next to the molding machine. His wife, Brigitte, would place the home phone receiver so the “ka-chunk” sound during each molding cycle was audible. If the ka-chunks stopped, Adlhoch would rush back to the plant to fix the problem.