Applied Composites Corp. recently began production on a Verson 4,000-ton compression molding press, its largest, at the company's St. Charles, Ill., headquarters facility. Applied is molding 150-pound personal watercraft hulls from sheet molding compound in the press, one of 10 it bought in mid-1994 from an undisclosed firm in southern Ohio, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Swanson. It installed eight of the presses in St. Charles, where it now runs 20 machines with clamping forces of 100-4,000 tons. The company moved two presses to its Rock Falls, Ill., Diversified Composites Corp. subsidiary, which now has 10 presses with clamping forces of 300-1,500 tons.
Swanson said Applied's largest press includes its proprietary in-mold coating equipment, for which it has a patent pending. Applied began developing the in-mold coating process more than two years ago, after sales of the watercraft hull outgrew the Applied customer's ability to paint them in-house.
Applied captively compounds its SMC to mold into vanity sinks, shower floors, basketball backboards and other thermoset composite parts. Swanson said her firm plans to double SMC compounding capacity in the next few years to match growing sales. Applied also does some bulk molding compound processing.
Applied acquired the Rock Falls operation about a year ago from Haas & Haas Inc. of St. Louis, before that firm went out of business. Applied needed more capacity and the Rock Falls operation was only 90 minutes away, ``making it easier to manage.''
Swanson did not disclose sales of privately held Applied. The firm employs about 265 at its 250,000-square-foot St. Charles plant and another 65 at the 50,000-square-foot Rock Falls facility. The company was established 76 years ago to make wood fiber speaker cones, and entered SMC molding in the late 1950s.