A Chicago-area designer and maker of extrusion blow molds is winning some unexpected tooling business by way of a new short-run molding operation it set up earlier this year. Knight Tool Works Inc., based in Franklin Park, Ill., established a blow molding division in January to handle final testing of molds and molded products.
``We didn't have any tryout capacity before we started this,'' said Rich Peterson, vice president of engineering. ``This is a natural progression for us.''
The new division, Mohawk Molding Inc. of Melrose Park, Ill., is about three miles from the parent company in west suburban Chicago. Mohawk has 3,000 square feet of leased space and operates a single Fischer blow molding machine with a capacity for molding 64-ounce containers.
Before starting up Mohawk, Knight tested its molds on customer production lines, in some cases forcing costly interruptions.
Now Knight and its customers also can handle testing of new materials and containers on production and prototype tooling supplied by Knight.
Peterson, who also holds the title of president at Mohawk, insists that the new division is strictly for the support of the tooling operation.
``I'm not looking to turn this into a production blow molder and compete with my customers,'' he said.
Peterson said Mohawk will add another blow molding machine, with a capacity for molding 21/2-gallon containers, within the next two months.
Knight, which employs 25 mold makers and engineers, is projecting sales this year of $1.75 million, an increase of 25 percent compared with last year. Dick Peterson, president and founder of Knight, said the Mohawk division has boosted activity at the parent company.
The company was able to move into blow molding because Knight had a staff with experience in both the mold-making and plastic processing side, he said. That is important for a business that relies just as much on experience as it does on computer-aided engineering tools.
``It's still an art,'' Dick Peterson said.