SAN JOSE, CALIF. - Sumitomo Plastics-Machinery Inc. of Nor-cross, Ga., has signed an agreement with R&D Tool and Engineering Inc. in Lees Summit, Mo., to maintain and repair the nearly 100 compact disc master molds in the United States. Koichi Kasamatsu, manager of disc system sales, said Sumitomo needed the agreement to expand its market share in the United States for CD molding systems. Seiko Giken of Japan supplies the optical disc molds for Sumitomo's CD molding systems.
Currently, molds must be sent to Seiko in Japan for repair or maintenance.
``No one has a good local repair and maintenance facility specifically for these types of molds,'' Kasamatsu said at Replitech International 1996, held June 4-6 in San Jose. ``To help our customers, we needed to partner with a good, precision mold maker for this work.''
Other partners in the agreement include Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. Plastics Machin-ery Division, and Seiko Giken, both in Tokyo.
Fred Shirk, R&D's account manager, said Sumitomo approached R&D about doing some minor work on disc molds for one of its customers.
``Their customers in the United States were real adamant to them that they wanted a local source for repairs,'' Shirk said.
R&D began operations in 1976, and is primarily a mold maker for the packaging industry making preformed molds, cap and closure molds, and one- and two-step blow molds.
``We're used to working with molds with extremely tight tolerances, but in high-cavitation molds as opposed to the one- or maybe two-cavity molds used in CD production,'' Shirk said.
R&D has 260 employees. Its plant features computer numerically controlled machinery, eight Pro/Engineer work stations, Autocad and other types of software for computer-assisted design and manufacturing.
Shirk said R&D started negotiations with Sumitomo a year ago. R&D made and repaired parts for Sumitomo that were sent to Japan for inspection.
The technology transfer from Seiko and employee training for R&D Tool will begin immediately. Shirk said that in the next few weeks, several of R&D's engineers will go to Japan for technical training.
``It really is a specialized field,'' he said.
``Repair and maintenance of these molds is much more difficult than other types of injection molds,'' Kasamatsu said. ``The precision tolerances are so much higher, in the submicron range, that it took us two years to find a mold maker in this country that could provide this service.''
Kasamatsu said demand for optical disc molds is increasing, and as Sumitomo's market share grows the company will discuss similar partnerships in other areas of the United States.