BOSTON - Xerox Corp. will begin gas-assisted injection molding in-house this year, making large parts such as panels for business equipment, a Xerox plastics official said during a technical session at ANTEC '95. Currently, custom molders that supply Xerox use the technology, which pumps a gas into the mold, creating hollow parts. Xerox will start gas-assisted molding, initially at its plastics operation in Webster, N.Y., to gain better first-hand knowledge of the process, said Paul Mastro, plastics manufacturing manager.
Mastro said Xerox, which only molds about 10-12 percent of its own plastics parts, will continue to rely on current suppliers.
``We'll get more involved with partnerships with molders we use now,'' he said, adding that Xerox's plastics operations also are trying to remain competitive, he said.
Interviewed after the May 9 panel discussion, Mastro declined to say how many machines will be involved, but said the move to gas-assist will not be a major expansion at Webster. He declined to give any details about licensing.
Xerox did a technology assessment of gas-assist 11/2 years ago. Especially exciting were the opportunities to mold large structural parts and to combine many parts into one, he said.
``For the molders that do business with Xerox, [gas-assist] will be important,'' Mastro said.
The panel avoided the conten-tious issue of licensing agree-ments. But some audience mem-bers said legal problems have slowed North American acceptance of the technology.
And other roadblocks remain. For example, because it is fairly new, product development takes a relatively long time.
``The development cycle for gas-assist must be no different than for traditional injection molding,'' said Michael Caropreso, process development specialist at GE Plastics in Pittsfield, Mass. ``The challenge is to make it low-cost and easy to use.''
Ken Kerouac, a Dow Plastics senior development engineer, said lots of research work has been done in nozzle design, but the industry needs more data on areas such as part appearance and flow lines.
Dow Plastics is based in Midland, Mich.
Ken Kincaid, program manager at Mack Molding Co.'s plant in Inman, S.C., said Mack now uses the technology to make parts for business equipment, consumer electronics and recreational and medical products.
``In every area that we're doing custom molding in, we're doing gas-assist molding,'' he said.