DETROIT - K-Omega Corp., an automotive flocking firm, is wrapping up a $1.6 million plant consolidation and expansion in Toledo, Ohio, which will increase the company's total manufacturing capacity by 30 percent. K-Omega is completing the renovation of a 60,000-square-foot building it purchased in Toledo, along with 5.2 acres of land, where it is consolidating operations from some existing plants and establishing headquarters. A new $500,000 robotic flocking line, designed by K-Omega, is also planned for Toledo.
The company is closing plants in Westland, Mich., and Northwood, Ohio, and consolidating those operations into existing plants. Manufacturing will continue in Toledo; Canton Township, Mich.; Brampton, Ontario; and Monterrey, Mexico.
Although K-Omega owns two injection presses and does some molding, most of its flocking is done on finished parts shipped in by customers. Typical automotive parts that require flocking are glove boxes, console trays and window channels.
Owner and Chief Executive Officer John C. Kim said he has also patented a flocked fastener clip, used to secure interior components, which he produces at the rate of 15 million per year.
Kim, an Asian-American, said K-Omega is a qualified minority supplier. The company's two largest customers are Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. About 125 people work at the company, which is projecting sales of $10 million this year.
In the flocking process, a molded part is coated with glue and then fibers are electrostatically applied, orienting them in a close-packed, vertical position. K-Omega also has developed a washing and drying finishing operation that reduces the shedding of loose fibers.
K-Omega is currently testing a process that recycles flocked glove box trays. Kim said the glove boxes, usually molded of ABS or polypropylene, are flocked with nylon or polyester fibers. When reground, the fibers act as reinforcement in the recycled resin, Kim said. Although he has not sold any customers on the process yet, Kim is hopeful.
``The initial tests came out very favorable,'' he said.
K-Omega is also experimenting with an automated process to flock an entire door panel. That, Kim said, would lower costs and increase styling versatility compared with existing processes which use fabric or carpet inserts.
``Now we have the technology to do the whole door panel,'' he said.
K-Omega sells its proprietary flocking systems to ``friendly competitors,'' Kim said. Systems have been sold to companies in Korea, India and Canada, while another sale is being negotiated with a firm in Saudi Arabia, he said.
The company's move to Toledo was helped with tax abatements from the city of Toledo and the state of Ohio, Kim said.