DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - Welding Engineers Inc. of Blue Bell, Pa., will manufacture compounding extruders for Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd., in a move Toshiba sayswill raise its profile among North American compounders and help offset the crunch of a strong yen. Both companies announced the agreement at the K'95 trade show.
In North America, Toshiba is well-known as a major Japanese supplier of injection molding machines.
But the Tokyo-based company has very little North American sales of its extruders, made in Numazu City, Japan, according to Kenji Nozawa, manager of Toshiba's extrusion export group.
Under the licensing agree-ment, Welding Engineers will build and market Toshiba's co-rotating, intermeshing twin-screw extruders in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The extruders will have screw diameters of 37-175 millimeters. The machines will be equipped with controls for the North American market.
In an Oct. 9 interview at K'95, Nozawa said the most important reason for the deal was to create a U.S. sales base. Toshiba officials also see the agreement as a way to offset the high yen/weak dollar combination, which makes Japanese-made products more expensive in the United States, though that was a secondary reason, according to Nozawa.
Thomas Hensley, vice president of Welding Engineers, conceded that Toshiba is little-known in the compounding business in North America. German-made machines make up most of the machines sold in the United States.
But Hensley said Toshiba is strong in Asia, a fast-growing compounding market. That means Toshiba already has a brand awareness among large U.S. and European compounders doing business in Asia, he said.
Hensley said the two companies have been discussing the deal for about six months, and finished it shortly before K'95, which ran Oct. 5-12 in Dusseldorf.
For Welding Engineers, the agreement greatly expands its product range.
In Blue Bell, Welding Engineers makes counter-rotating, nonintermeshing, twin-screw extruders.
The machines usually are used in specialty areas by resin manufacturers for such things as devolatization of polymers and isolation of emulsion polymers, according to Hensley.
``We understand the markets [for Toshiba extruders], we were just on the fringes of the markets,'' Hensley said at Welding Engineers' K show booth.
In a statement, David Borthwick, president of Welding Engineers, said the licensing agreement will allow for increased cooperation between Welding Engineers' units - Welex Inc. of Blue Bell, which makes extrusion systems for rigid packaging, and Wexco Corp., which makes bimetallic cylinders and other extrusion components.