ATLANTA - Mack Molding Co. Inc. of Arlington, Vt., is taking its first step into automotive molding by making parts for heavy trucks. By August, Mack will make 18 different parts for Volvo's heavy truck line, according to Brian Sumpter, the molder's business development director for southern operations. Sumpter was interviewed at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Structural Plastics Division conference, held April 1-3 in Atlanta.
``This is our first venture into automotives,'' Sumpter said. ``We have always concentrated on electronics and a number of other markets instead, but this was a perfect match for us.''
Although he could not say what parts Mack will mold for the Swedish automaker, Sumpter said the company will use gas-assisted injection molding, and also do painting and assembly. Mack will produce the parts at its Inman, S.C., plant.
``Volvo has a plant in Greenville, S.C., which makes the trucks,'' he said. ``So the closeness of our Inman plant makes us able to communicate easily with the customer, and to be involved in their design and production phases.''
He noted that the company had not tried molding automotive parts because it had focused on other markets, such as electronics, where it molds for Kodak, Motorola Inc., Pitney Bowes Inc., Xerox Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and other equipment makers.
``We have gone through a learning curve on this,'' Sumpter said. ``But we have had very good support from Volvo in our design and test phases.''
He said in embracing the gas-assisted process, Mack has been able to mold larger parts, and the parts it produces for Volvo give the automaker significant weight savings. Several of the parts are complex and required mastering new techniques, according to Sumpter, who said the parts will be assembled by special teams set up to work on one single project.
Mack has plants in Arlington, Cavendish and Pownal, Vt.; In-man; Statesville, N.C.; Westford, Mass.; and a technology center in Marlborough, Mass. It operates 65 presses with clamping forces of 65-2,000 tons.
The company's annual sales were $298 million for the fiscal year ended June 6.