Uniplast International Inc., a U.S.-Austrian joint venture founded in 1988, has a tight focus: North American vinyl window extruders. Uniplast makes high-output dies and vacuum calibration systems for window profiles. The company has invested $1.4 million in a new, 12,800-square-foot building in Meadville, Pa., to expand the business, according to Lon Sippy, an owner of the U.S. partner, Sipco Inc. The Uniplast building, directly behind Sipco in Meadville, opened in January.
Window profiles are challenging to extrude because they have thin walls and a complex shape, with many cavities. Each die and calibration system, a long piece of equipment that vacuum sizes and cools the profile, must be made at the same time to meet specifications for each individual profile, Sippy said.
Uniplast systems run window profiles at 161/2 feet a minute, about twice as fast as traditional systems, according to Ronald Booth, sales director.
The Meadville window tooling company was formed because Greiner Holding AG, a major European plastics company, wanted to enter the U.S. market. Greiner, based in Kremsmnster, Austria, has sales of about $320 million from plastic foam, blow molded and injection molded containers, extrusion tooling, recycling and cork products.
In 1988, Greiner officials spent 10 weeks touring potential U.S. partners before picking Sipco, a midsized tool and die maker that specializes in injection molds for plastics. Although Sipco, with $7 million in sales, is much smaller than Greiner, both companies are family-owned. Sipco was founded by Hank Sippy in 1959. His sons, Lon and Larry, run the company today.
Greiner manufactures calibration tables and pullers in Austria and ships the equipment to Meadville, where Sipco makes all dies and calibration tooling. The new Uniplast building has room to set up three extrusion lines. Uniplast technicians test each system, using the customer's compounds, before shipping the completed line.
The line operator can see the profile being cooled by water jets, thanks to Uniplast's use of clear polycarbonate panels.
Uniplast has 14 employees and sales of about $6 million.
Lon and Larry Sippy also own an Erie, Pa., custom injection molder, Techniplast Inc.