YBM Magnex International Inc. plans to be the major U.S. producer of polymer-bonded, high-strength magnets by setting up a new plant at its Newtown, Pa., head office.
YBM will spend about $14 million during the next two years to build a 24,000-square-foot plant and equip it with 15 injection molding machines, about 20 compression molding presses, robotic handling equipment and other machinery, YBM President Jacob Bogatin said in a telephone interview. He did not identify machinery suppliers, but said a Midwest firm will supply injection presses.
The new facility will mold the compounds it will make by mixing magnetic media with about 5 percent thermoplastics, by weight. After it molds the compounds into magnets it will cure them in an oven, then magnetize them, Bogatin said. The high-strength, polymer-bonded magnets are used in sensors and motors for automotive, appliance, office equipment and other markets.
Bogatin said his firm now makes high-strength magnets using sintering techniques, but injection and compression molding are more efficient and allow more design flexibility. Magnets based on the elements neodymium, boron and iron have the highest magnetic strength; the firm also will mold magnets based on ferrite.
He estimated the Newtown plant will have annual capacity of about 500,000 pounds by late 1998 and double that a year later.
Bogatin said Japan makes the largest amount of high-strength, polymer-bonded magnets, for which the global market currently totals about 3 million pounds a year for types based on neodymium, boron and iron. They are growing more than 25 percent a year because they allow miniaturization of a host of products.
YBM posted sales of $93.7 million and profit of $16.2 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30. Its common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.