Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering's symposium and exhibition, held May 31-June 4 in Anaheim, Calif.
North Coast investing in machining centers
North Coast Tool & Mold Corp. has invested about $2 million since mid-1996 and anticipates expenditure of an additional $750,000 by 1998's year-end.
North Coast will acquire and install another computer numerically controlled machining center and load it with up-to-date software, Richard Petrovich, president and chief executive officer, said.
Already, the Cleveland firm has installed six Taiwanese Johnford CNC vertical machining centers costing $1.8 million. The largest can travel 69, 120 and 31 inches in its three axes.
North Coast's mold-making operation was established in 1976 and employs 20, building tooling for injection molding, compression molding, resin transfer molding and composite layup.
Since 1992, North Coast has operated injection molding machines, putting a 300-ton Van Dorn Demag into operation in May. In total, the firm has nine presses, mostly Van Dorns, with clamping forces of 110-500 tons.
The molding operation employs 35-37. Full production runs account for 90 percent of the business; start-up work represents the remainder.
North Coast occupies a 66,000-square-foot facility.
Cape Composites Inc. opening Calif. facility
Commercial prepreg manufacturer Cape Composites Inc. is opening a new plant in July and reducing tape prices Aug. 1.
The San Diego firm is investing $3 million in the 35,000-square-foot plant and equipment such as a 50-inch-wide line to make graphite unidirectional tape, David Abrams, president, said in an interview. The new site is one-fourth of a mile from a 10,000-square-foot building that Cape Composites will retain in the near term.
Cape Composites said its products, mostly at $12.99 per pound, will cost ``15 percent below current market prices for the most widely used standard modulus graphite unidirectional tapes.''
Once operational, the line will have capacity to make 8,000 pounds of prepreg daily with most products shipped within 24 hours. Century Design Inc. of San Diego manufactured the equipment.
Cape Composites employs 50 and had 1997 sales of about $6 million for recreational, medical and industrial applications. Abrams anticipates 1998 sales of about $10 million.
Ciba polymers unit finishes expansion
Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp.'s performance polymers division has begun qualification of products following an expansion of its highly automated McIntosh, Ala., manufacturing facility.
The multimillion-dollar project involved rebuilding some portions of five existing lines and creation of a sixth line to make high-performance products mainly for aerospace and laminating applications.
Ciba moved equipment for production of bismaleimides from Grimsley, England, and polyimides from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and outfitted the new line with special controls and capacity for future growth. Ciba operates the McIntosh facility as the division's core North American manufacturing site for specialty resins. Ciba began the project last year.
Virtek introduces inspection system
Virtek Vision International Inc. of Waterloo, Ontario, introduced a fully automated, self-calibrating inspection system that lists for US$68,000. The LaserQC overhead projection system has accuracy within two-thousandths of an inch for quality control inspection or reverse computer-aided-design engineering of two-dimensional parts.
Virtek employs 45 and anticipates 1998 sales of US$12 million, said Kenneth Steven, vice president of marketing.