Rehau Inc. plans to expand injection molding capacity at its Cullman, Ala., plant to supply new automotive contracts, the firm announced Oct. 22. The project includes adding dual injection molding capability. Rehau said it will nearly double the plant's size to 386,000 square feet at a cost of $9 million by October 1997. Company spokesman Andy Hollinger said Rehau also will add injection molding equipment, but he said company officials would not disclose details on equipment cost, suppliers or press sizes.
The company will begin adding injection presses after the building expansion is done and will continue boosting injection capacity into 1999.
Rehau established the Cullman plant to supply auto bumpers to Mercedes-Benz AG. The facility began commercial production in December after making prototype bumpers, Hollinger said.
Rehau, based in Leesburg, Va., invested $15 million in Cullman's construction and installed presses with clamping forces of 25-3,000 tons.
It also has extrusion equipment there, but has no plan to expand the extrusion operation, according to Hollinger.
The Cullman operation's main initial contract is to supply bumpers for Mercedes' new sport utility vehicle, scheduled for a U.S. launch next year.
Rehau said in an Oct. 22 news release that it also was awarded new contracts from General Motors Corp. and other automakers. Hollinger said the contracts are for grilles, rocker panels, body side moldings and other large parts.
Rehau will use dual injection molding for parts that require both rigid and flexible properties. Rehau affiliates helped pioneer this technology in Europe, the firm said in a news release.
Dual injection molding ``results in a seamless, more durable product than if the two parts were produced separately and then joined together,'' noted David Down, Rehau vice president, in a news release.
The Cullman area provides Rehau with ``a skilled and dedicated work force whose hard work has allowed us to expand our presence here,'' said plant manager Bruce Claridge.
Cullman is Rehau's ninth North American facility. Its plants supply automotive, furniture, construction, appliance and other markets.
Rehau is a subsidiary of Fraen-kische Plastiks of Rehau, Germany, which has 39 plants around the world and employs about 10,000. Rehau expects to boost employment at Cullman from the current level of 100 to about 160 by 1999.