AC Technology North America Inc. installed a 165-ton Battenfeld injection molding machine at its Louisville, Ky., headquarters and training center last week. The company, which makes mold analysis software for plastics processing, moved into the new, 10,000-square-foot facility in Louisville on April 1. It had been leasing 2,500 square feet of office space at another Louisville site.
The building and press represent an investment of more than $1 million, said AC Technology President Peter Medina.
Other equipment in the lab includes a dryer, on consignment from Comet Automation Systems Inc., and two Mokon temperature controllers.
In late April, AC Technology began training customers at the center on its C-Mold software, the outfit's primary focus.
This summer it will expand its services to include one- and two-day workshops focusing on the benefits of computer-aided engineering programs, such as C-Mold, Medina said.
Rather than teach participants how to use the software, those classes will show them what it can do.
Medina said the workshop is intended to close the gap between CAE technology operators and those skilled in other aspects of plastics processing - from the product designer to the machine operator.
``It's all about educating people, building their confidence,'' Medina said.
``When we develop a new product, we develop it in conjunction with the industry ... so it's not something industry can't use,'' he said.
Processors can use CAE simulation to determine their ideal molding conditions, he said, such as proper fill time, melt or mold temperature, injection velocity or even ``how long to pack their parts.'' And, since seeing is believing, the on-site press provides the proof.
The company also will use the Battenfeld press for process-control research, and ``to validate work with regard to the software,'' Medina said.
The learning center uses about 3,000 square feet of the building, with the rest dedicated to offices. The company previously had trained customers using university facilities, he said. AC Technology employs 20.
C-Mold technology can be used for injection, coinjection, gas-assist, resin transfer and reactive molding, which covers RIM, structural RIM, thermosets and rubber, as well as thermoforming and blow molding, he said. Customers purchase only the capabilities they need. The newest addition to the family, yet unreleased, is for injection compression molding. In July, the company will hold its first training course in injection compression simulation.
Medina said customer response to the new center has been positive.
``Once this works we may do it in other parts of the country,'' he said.
C-Mold customers include Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., General Electric Co., Lexmark International Inc., Rubbermaid Inc. and a number of small custom molders, Medina said.
C-Mold got its start in 1974 at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., under the Cornell Injection Molding Program, a research effort directed by K.K. Wang, a professor of mechanical engineering, Medina said. In 1986, Wang - along with a small group of other Cornell professors - commercialized their efforts and started up Advanced CAE Technology Inc., parent to the Louisville firm. Wang is chief executive officer of Advanced CAE of Ithaca.
Medina would not disclose sales for the private firm.