January — Maac Machinery Corp. acquired the assets of another thermoforming equipment maker, Comet Industries Inc. of Florida, transferring the assets to Comet headquarters in Itasca, Ill. In December, Maac announced it opened a European office in England.
Auxiliary equipment maker Conair Group announced it was centralizing all production into its expanded plant in Franklin, Pa., and would close plants at other locations. Conair also built a new headquarters building at a Pittsburgh suburb.
February—Injection press builder Arburg GmbH + Co. said it was buying Sachsische Kunststofftechnik GmbH, a struggling press maker in eastern Germany. But Arburg canceled the deal just one month later, citing ``unforeseen, serious changes in the economic conditions'' at SKT. Later in the year, Germany's J. Dieffenbacher GmbH & Co. acquired SKT's melt-compression molding technology.
Black Clawson Sano Inc., which makes blown film equipment, closed its plant in Amelia, Ohio, and moved to its sister company, Black Clawson Converting Machinery Corp. in Fulton, N.Y.
March — After four years of ownership by the Italian government, injection press builder Sandretto Group was acquired by Cannon Group of Italy, which makes polyurethane processing equipment.
April — Krupp Plastics & Rubber Machinery Inc., the North American arm of the German blow molding equipment company, announced plans to begin U.S. assembly in a new factory in Somerville, N.J.
Two competitors, Cincinnati Milacron Inc. and HPM Corp., joined forces to develop thin-gauge sheet extrusion systems for packaging, called the Alliance System.
Continuing its expansion in Latin America, Graham Packaging Latin America, a unit of Graham Packaging Group, bought the assets of its Brazilian licensee, Rheem Graham. The company's machines blow mold high density polyethylene bottles.
May — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Machinery Division stopped publicly releasing its production statistics, citing concerns about accuracy of government-supplied import data. Later in the year, the Machinery Division took steps to improve the government data through a study by Washington lawyer Robert Branand detailing problems.
June — The trend toward two-platen injection molding presses continued at NPE 1997 in Chicago. In business news, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. unveiled a major strategic shift to build machine components in-house at its Bolton, Ontario, headquarters — parts the injection press maker historically has outsourced. Battenfeld GmbH announced at NPE 1997 that it was assembling large-tonnage HM injection presses in the United States, at a plant in Bellefonte, Pa.
Ohio-based vertical injection press maker PH Group Inc.'s Trueblood division bought St. Lawrence Press Inc., a Michigan company that makes compression molding equipment.
July — Austria-based Engel Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH bought land for a factory in South Korea to build injection presses by 2001.
October — Cincinnati Milacron opened a regional headquarters in Singapore to serve Southeast Asia.
November — German machinery maker Mannesmann AG said it plans to organize all its plastics holdings under one business group. They had been grouped under Mannesmann Demag and Krauss-Maffei AG. The move will highlight Mannesmann as a single, giant player that owns Demag, Krauss-Maffei, Van Dorn Demag Corp., Netstal-Maschinen AG, Billion SA and Hermann Berstorff Maschinenbau GmbH.
December — Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. joined the ranks of Japanese injection press companies to set up U.S. production. Sumitomo said it would begin building small-tonnage machines at a $10 million factory in Georgia in 1998.
Extruder supplier Berstorff Corp. announced it was relocating from Charlotte, N.C., to the Florence, Ky., facility of Krauss-Maffei Corp. Both firms are units of Germany's Mannesmann AG, which is reorganizing its plastics businesses.
Throughout the year — The primary machine world saw at least two startups. In extruders, American Kuhne, in Norwich, Conn., affiliated with Germany's Kuhne GmbH, made waves by hiring three high-level people away from Davis-Standard. One of the three, Al Hodge, quickly returned to Davis-Standard as vice president of sales and engineering. The blow molding world also got a new player, as Open Machine Systems LLC opened its doors in Jackson, Mich.
Several companies moved their U.S. headquarters. JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. doubled its space by moving to Anaheim, Calif. Another Japanese injection press supplier, Niigata Engineering Co. Ltd., moved to a larger facility in Itasca, Ill. French blow molding press firm Sidel Inc. moved to a 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Norcross, Ga.