Mack Industries Inc. in Troy, Mich., a prototype specialist to the automotive industry, recently acquired Graflex Inc. in Spring Lake, Mich. Graflex is a pioneer in the manufacture of spray metal tooling, a low-cost method to produce molds used for the low-volume production of plastic parts for automotive components and office furniture.
Also, Graflex's capabilities include mold design and building, and the production of urethane-molded parts and components to a variety of industries including furniture, medical equipment, computer hardware and toys.
The acquisition of Graflex allows Mack to expand services, as the spray metal process is ideal for producing prototype injection molds and patterns. Mack's capabilities include SLA rapid prototyping of injection molds and patterns, laser object manufacturing, computer-aided design and manufacturing, small-run production castings and injection molded parts, and complete computer numerically controlled machining. The two companies employ a total of 90.
Edward Dinneweth, Mack chief executive officer, said the owner of Graflex sold the company because he wanted to retire.
``Rather than develop those capabilities ourselves, we bought their company,'' he said. ``It gives us diversification into other industries and both companies can sell each other's capabilities and enhance our roster of services.''
Dinneweth said rapid prototyping has changed the makeup of the tooling industry dramatically, and it continues to change as computer-aided mold and part design programs make it easier to create virtual parts.
``The automotive industry is effectively trying to eliminate prototyping and do it all on computer without prototyping,'' he added. ``They may not eliminate prototyping totally, but they've already eliminated a lot of the iterations they used to do.''
In response, Mack has increased its computerization capabilities and has started moving toward producing more hard, production tooling.