CHICAGO — Weber Manufacturing Ltd., a maker of large automotive and aerospace molds, recently completed an expansion and upgrade of its plant in Midland, Ontario, to keep pace with an expanding international business.
Since the first of the year, Weber has invested $3.3 million in three new machining centers and the addition of 8,000 square feet of factory space. The company, which has one plant and is based in Midland, now has 110,000 square feet of production space.
New machining centers include a five-axis, five-head Ingersoll machine that allows the mold builder to cut various surfaces of a mold block without having to reposition it. The Ingersoll gives Weber a 40 percent efficiency gain over a machining center with only two heads, said Jerry Smith, sales and marketing manager.
``We needed more roughing capacity,'' he said in an interview at NPE 1997 in Chicago.
Weber also bought two Taurus machining centers for high-speed finishing work. The Taurus cutting heads tilt almost 45 degrees to reach contours without sacrificing the accuracy of the cut, Smith said.
Weber's specialty is building large tools for injection, compression and reaction injection molding and it has delivered more than 800 cores and cavities, Smith said. The company has sales and engineering offices in Windsor, Ontario, and Stuttgart, Germany.
Weber's expanding international business — it now exports to 12 countries — makes it less vulnerable to occasional soft spots in the North American market, Smith said.
Weber also has developed a proprietary nickel-shell mold that it says can reduce costs 20 percent compared with conventional mold-making methods, and speed up the entire process.
The shell is built up at a rate of one-quarter millimeter per hour in a nickel vapor deposition chamber. The nickel shells can be produced with a uniform wall thickness ranging from 1-25 millimeters. Low-pressure molding usually requires a shell of 4-6 millimeters.
The shell is deposited onto a mandrel, which typically is made of aluminum. After nickel deposition, the shell is removed from the mandrel and given a back support or filling, typically a resin or polymer concrete.
At NPE, Weber was showing a large nickel shell for an aerospace application.
The firm said it also has built nickel shell molds for applications in high-pressure SMC, high-pressure PC injection molds, and PU foam and slush molding for auto interior parts.