Polaris Industries Inc. will start its first injection molding facility in mid-May to make large parts for its snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.
Polaris decided to bring the molding in-house to cut freight costs after its previous molder decided not to continue supplying the Plymouth, Minn., firm, according to Jeff Bjorkman, Polaris vice president of manufacturing.
Polaris is investing about $12.6 million in the molding facility in Roseau, Minn.
``We looked at new molding technologies and cycle times and decided we could be successful at it,'' Bjorkman said in a telephone interview.
Injection press controls are simpler and more effective than they were a decade ago, he added.
Polaris will start producing parts on a 500-ton Cincinnati Milacron press. During the rest of the year the firm will install another 11 Milacron presses with clamping forces of 450-2,000 tons. They will be housed in a new, 58,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its assembly operation in Roseau, about 10 miles from the Canadian border.
Bjorkman said his firm mainly will mold polyethylene into parts such as fenders and shrouds.
KenTech Plastics Inc. of Hopkinsville, Ky., formerly molded all of Polaris' large parts but dropped the business because it is too busy molding construction products, such as window shutters, said Bill Adams, executive vice president of extruded products for ABT Building Products Corp.
ABT of Neenah, Wis., bought KenTech in early 1995.
Bjorkman said Polaris will make all its large parts to ensure precise color matching. It will continue to contract out most of its small-parts molding, he said.
Polaris predicts its recreation products will contain more injection molded parts because they offer a better fit and finish. Injection molded components already have begun replacing metal and reinforced thermosets. Bjorkman said Polaris will do more of its own molded-part design and eventually will include gas-assist technology in its molding.
KenTech no longer does custom molding, Adams said in a telephone interview from ABT's Charlotte, N.C., office. It became too complicated to schedule outside jobs around its core work on vinyl and polypropylene building products.
KenTech reported custom molding sales of $29.8 million in 1996. ABT reported profile extrusion sales of $80.7 million for 1996.