Germany's Bolta building $50 million plating plant in Alabama

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Purico Group Ltd. Bolta Werke GmbH makes chrome-plated plastics used in automotive badges and grilles.

A German company is setting up a plastics chrome plating plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Bolta Werke GmbH said the facility will be its first in the United States for the Leinburg, Germany, firm.

Bolta first announced the project in September, when Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said the new plant could employ more than 350 by 2016. Production is scheduled to begin in 2015.

In the original announcement Bolta and sister company Purico Group estimated the Tuscaloosa project would represent a $39.5 million investment. A recent report stated the project will cost $50 million. Company officials declined to explain the discrepancy or provide further project details.

Bolta already runs a plastic chrome-plating joint venture operation in Puebla, Mexico, called Nicro Bolta. Bolta worldwide employs 950 and logs sales of about 125 million euros ($166 million) annually. It claims to be the largest company of its kind in the world, doing chrome and other metal plating on plastics as well as painting components. It is active in markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

The Tuscaloosa plant is poised to supply parts to nearby operations of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Vance, Ala., and a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. It can also supply parts to Tier 1 auto parts companies in the region, including a Rehau injection molding plant in Cullman, Ala. Rehau is spending $115 million to expand in Cullman and is building technical center there.

Bolta broke ground on its Tuscaloosa factory on Aug. 7.

Bolta, founded in 1921, is owned by Purico Group Ltd. of Nottingham, England. Purico has interests in polymers, paper, construction and real estate.

In Europe Bolta claims its three plating lines give it the largest electroplating capacity on the continent. Its secondary services include tooling, hot stamping, electroplating, assembly and welding.

European molding is handled by 36 injection presses with clamping forces up to 1,500 tons. In addition to auto parts, Bolta’s plating work in Europe includes plumbing components.