Hong Kong-based Welltec Machinery Ltd. is supplying the base machine for HPM Corp.'s new Universal toggle injection molding press, HPM has confirmed.
HPM introduced the Universal at NPE 1997 in June. The press is available in clamping forces of 60-560 tons.
HPM has priced the units aggressively — the Universal costs about 20-25 percent less than other comparably equipped machines.
At NPE, HPM officials said the Universal includes components and subassemblies from Asia and Europe, but they would not reveal the actual suppliers.
In a recent telephone interview, Stephen Byrnes, HPM's vice president and general manager of injection molding, confirmed that Welltec is providing the machine base. Other components come from sources around the world. HPM does final assembly at its plant in Mount Gilead, Ohio, its factory in Schwerin, Germany, and the Los Angeles facility of its parent company, Stadco Inc.
Byrnes said final assembly includes putting the screw, barrel, nozzle, heater bands and controller on the machines. The machines have HPM screws and barrels from Xaloy Inc.
``Welltec provides us with a base machine that is manufactured to our standards, pretested and shipped to the manufacturing assembly point of our choice,'' Byrnes said.
For years HPM has been known for its hydraulic-powered machines, starting back in 1877 when the company was founded to make hydraulic apple presses, which were used to make apple cider. HPM later built the first U.S. hydraulic injection molding machine for plastics.
HPM's entry into toggle-clamp injection molding machines came in 1988, when the company acquired the New Britain line of toggle presses, according to H. Randall Parker, HPM injection molding product manager.
The machines were built in Mount Gilead.
Stadco, an aerospace supplier, bought HPM in 1996. The new ownership brought in a much more global strategy, as the Ohio machine maker bought Germany's Hemscheidt Maschinentechnik Schwerin GmbH.
Byrnes said global competition in machinery led the new owners to look for new sources for its toggle machine.
``Pricing pressures from offshore have taken a significant amount of market share,'' he said. ``We went through a circuitous route and ended up with Welltec in Hong Kong. They have been an excellent partner providing us with subassembled components, tested to our specifications.''
At least one U.S. competitor has suggested that HPM agreed to buy 100 Welltec machines of an old design that the Hong Kong company no longer sells itself, but Byrnes said that is not true.
``I don't want this to be viewed as a `lightweight machine' coming in from Asia,'' Byrnes said, adding that HPM has an ongoing, multiyear relationship with Welltec.
The Universal is a five-point toggle machine, he said.
``That's not Welltec's standard,'' Byrnes said. ``It is built to our design standard. You cannot go to Welltec and buy this machine as a Welltec machine.''
Welltec's North American division, Welltec U.S.A. Inc. in Elkhart, Ind., referred questions to the parent company. Officials there could not be reached.
Interviewed in September, Byrnes said HPM had booked orders for more than 35 Universal toggles.
HPM also has released a list of component suppliers. The Universal toggle press has a Barber-Colman 4500 controller. Other components come from suppliers in the United States, Germany, Italy and France.
``This is part of a global market strategy, where we are looking to source things from suppliers that give us the best quality and a technological advantage, instead of believing that 100 percent in-house is the only way to provide all four of our product lines,'' Byrnes said.
Parker said HPM will continue to make the toggles that evolved from the New Britain line, on request. HPM will keep servicing those machines.
``We have a considerable customer base that we will service spare parts to,'' Parker said.
HPM now is stocking Universal spare parts in Mount Gilead and Los Angeles, and plans to place them at the Schwerin plant in the future.
Byrnes said the Universal machine has many standard features that are options on competitors' presses, at a lower price.
``We have taken the options we feel most molders would want and included them in the base price,'' he said.
Building standard machines allows suppliers to become more efficient, lowering manufacturing costs.
HPM tried that strategy three years ago. At NPE 1994, HPM kicked off its Value Advantage, or VA, line of toggle machines.
``The reason that the idea was not successful in the past was that we did not source out the components, and therefore it had very little price advantage,'' Byrnes said.