ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The U.S. subsidiary of German molder Wilden GmbH & Co. KG plans to double the size of its sole U.S. plant, driven in large part by growing medical business.
Wilden Plastics (USA) is adding 20,000 square feet and eight injection molding machines to its Peachtree City, Ga., facility by the end of May, said Fred Guethe, project manager for Wilden's U.S. subsidiary. With minor modifications, the additional space can be a Class 100,000 clean room, company officials said.
The investment was not disclosed, but company officials said in 1994 that they spent $5 million building the initial facility, which includes space for assembly. The firm disclosed the expansion, which will give it 40,000 square feet in Peachtree City, at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West '98 show, held Jan. 20-22 in Anaheim.
``The biggest increase every year is coming from European [customers] — we are following our customers from Europe to the U.S.,'' said Englbert Scharnagl, an official in the pharmaceutical devices section of Wilden Engineering und Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, the sales unit of Wilden GmbH, in Nabburg, Germany.
Some of the growth is coming in molding components for diagnostic equipment — blood measuring and testing systems, he said. The growth is in the medical business, but the Georgia plant will be split about evenly between medical and automotive business, mainly in engine, transmission and under-the-hood components, Scharnagl said.
The European customers Wilden is following include Hoffmann-LaRoche, Borg-Warner and Siemens, company officials said.
The eight machines — with clamping forces of 100-200 tons —will give the firm 28 machines at the plant. The facility has one injection press dedicated to making smart cards and plans to add two more in April, Guethe said.
The plant, which opened in 1993, does about $6 million in sales, out of more than $100 million in annual sales worldwide for the company. The firm has six other plastics facilities in Europe.
The new expansion represents the partial completion of a more-ambitious program company officials outlined in late 1994, when they predicted a 25,000-square-foot addition to the main plant and another 50,000-square-foot building in Peachtree City by the end of 1995.
Several management restructurings and a more conservative approach to investment slowed the U.S. subsidiary from those initial rapid expansion plans, said Ellie Gratz, the U.S. sales manager for Wilden Engineering.