Talk about brand loyalty.
In 1968, Iowa custom molder Mid-Central Plastics Inc. bought one of the first injection molding machines built by Cincinnati Milacron Inc.'s new Plastics Machinery Division. Twenty-nine years later, Mid-Central has purchased its 26th and 27th Milacron presses, including one of the company's first two-platen offerings.
Cincinnati Milacron officials recently gave an award to Mid-Central of West Des Moines to celebrate the 30-year-old business relationship.
Mid-Central is a 100 percent Milacron house. So the molder took notice when Milacron introduced the two-platen Maxima at NPE 1997 in Chicago this past June.
In September, Mid-Central representatives traveled to the Batavia, Ohio, headquarters of Milacron's Plastics Machinery Group and purchased a 1,760-ton Maxima.
``I wanted one sooner, [but] couldn't get it,'' said Dave Waters, vice president of manufacturing at Mid-Central.
The molder also bought a used, 700-ton Milacron press.
Waters started at Mid-Central Plastics in 1974, six years after the molding company bought its first injection press from the brand-new supplier, Cincinnati Milacron. But he knows it well —the 375-ton press still turns out parts today. Milacron has rebuilt the press twice.
Tony Lutarewych was the salesman who sold Mid-Central its first Milacron press 30 years ago. Today he is national sales manager for Milacron's plastics injection machinery business.
Lutarewych started at Milacron in 1957, a decade before the company jumped into plastics. He was product manager for metal- forming machinery.
When the company created a Plastics Machinery Division in 1968, Lutarewych moved over to become one of four injection press salesmen, working out of Minneapolis. Milacron built three injection presses, all 375-tonners.
``We had four salesmen and three machines,'' Lutarewych said. ``That's how we started.''
Mid-Central bought one of the three.
The custom molder needed the new 1,760-ton Maxima machine — its biggest press to date — to serve large-part customers in the agricultural equipment and recreational vehicle market, according to Jack McWilliams, vice president of sales and engineering.
Machinery makers have touted the smaller size of two-platen machines as the most-obvious benefit over traditional three-platen presses, but Waters said machine size was not a major factor for Mid-Central. He cited other benefits.
``Being a custom molder, we always find that wide-platen machines fit us the best. They give us additional tie-bar space,'' Waters said.
Waters also likes the Maxima's ability to build tonnage quickly and a stack height that can accommodate a wider variety of mold sizes and thicknesses.
Mid-Central began doing gas-assisted molding a few years ago, to mold bigger parts.
Large-part business prompted the company to buy a C-Mold computer-aided-engineering system in May from AC Technology North America Inc. of Louisville, Ky., Waters said.
``We bought it because, with big tools, how you fill the tool becomes critical — things like knit lines and tonnages that you might need,'' he said.