Sales foaming over at Yizumi

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Kent Miller From left: Hans Wobbe, Yizumi's chief strategy officer; James Zhang, general manager of the injection molding machine division and global business development center; and CEO Richard Yan.

Guangzhou, China — Microcellular foam injection technology was front and center at Guangdong Yizumi Precision Machinery Co. Ltd.'s Chinaplas booth.

Compared to solid injection molding, the FoamPro technology, which Yizumi developed with Wilmington, Mass.-based MuCell foaming system supplier Trexel Inc., reduces product weight up to 20 percent and clamping forces up to 50 percent, Yizumi says.

"For foaming, you have much less internal pressure in the cavity, and because of that, you can go with an aluminum mold," said Hans Wobbe, Yizumi's chief strategy officer. As aluminum cools more quickly than steel and there is no holding time, FoamPro can slash cycle time, Wobbe said.

To save wear, the mold is given a ceramic coating.

"You have about the same lifetime as with a conventional steel mold," said Wobbe, adding that it's much quicker to make a mold out of aluminum than out of steel.

At its bustling Chinaplas booth, Yizumi demonstrated FoamPro with a single-cavity aluminum mold on a UN1000DP two-platen injection press making a 880-gram briefcase in a 49-second cycle time.

FoamPro can yield five surface textures: fabric, dull polish, high gloss, particle and leather-grain. High surface quality means that FoamPro is suitable for visible parts, for example, in a car interior, Wobbe said.

By the end of April, this year's deliveries of injection molding machine machines were up 30 percent compared to the same period in 2016, while overseas deliveries were up 40 percent, CEO Richard Yan said. Orders are up 50 percent, pushing delivery times out to three months, prompting Yan to wryly observe "We need new plants."

This summer, Yizumi plans to start building a 60,000-square-meter (645,835-square-foot) expansion near its headquarters in Shunde. Production is slated to commence late next year. The company also is investing $10 million on new CNC equipment for its factories in Shunde and Suzhou. By mid-2018, the company plans to move production of its two-platen machines to Suzhou.

Yizumi acquired the intellectual property of Marion, Ohio-based machine maker HPM in 2011 and moved production of HPM-branded machinery to China. Yizumi plans to start co-branding these machines for the U.S. market later this year.

Like many Chinese machine makers, Yizumi is opening a factory in India to get out from under that country's onerous anti-dumping duties on small- and medium-sized injection molding machines. Later this month, using key parts from China, Yizumi workers will start assembling machines at the 5,000-square-meter (53,820-square-foot) facility in Ahmedabad. Initial capacity is 150 machines a year. Current sales in India are modest, but Yizumi wants to be positioned to serve that huge market, Yan said.

Yizumi plans to partner with MES (manufacturing execution system) providers to build robust, open Internet 4.0-MES links. "What's of value to the customer isn't the date capture, but how it's used," he said.

"All our machines are equipped with an interface for Industry 4.0 as defined by Euromap [the European Association of Plastics and Rubber Machinery Manufacturers], so they can connect their high-end machines with ours," Wobbe said.

To stay on top of these fast developments, Yizumi is making organizational changes. In March, Yizumi group deputy general manager James Zhang was named general manager of Injection Molding Machine Division and Global Business Development Center. In his new position, Zhang will integrate the company's traditionally separated domestic and overseas operations for injection molding machines. Liao Changqing, former general manager of the Injection Molding Machine Division, was named deputy general manager in charge of upgrading Yizumi's global supply chain. Both executives sit with Yan on the company's five-member board of directors.

Later this year Yizumi plans to open a technical research center at RWTH University in Aachen, Germany, site of the prestigious Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), Wobbe said.

Yizumi is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange. In February, the company opened a showroom in Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam, near Hanoi.