Axson SA, a French supplier of thermoset resins, has enlarged its North American presence by launching new polyurethane production and moving its operations to Michigan.
Axson, which ran a Houston-based sales and engineering office, gained two plants in Eaton Rapids, Mich., when it bought a business unit of material supplier Akemi Inc. in March 1997 from Maxco Inc., a Lansing, Mich., holding company.
The purchase included an 11,000-square-foot plant and a newly built, 44,000-square-foot facility in a nearby industrial park.
Recently, St. Ouen-l'Aumone, France-based Axson invested $1.2 million in new equipment at the plants and shifted its North American headquarters there, said Alain Grandjean, Axson executive vice president.
The plants, the only Axson production sites in North America, have begun making polyurethane and silicone-based resins for prototype molds and adhesives.
The supplier had shipped those resins from France to customers in North America but found it increasingly impractical, Grandjean said.
``This gives us more flexibility to serve our global customers,'' he said. ``We can draw on technology from Europe and adjust it to fit this market.''
Among the new technology at the facilities are custom formulations to make urethane-based resins for prototype molds. The material simulates the properties of thermoplastic olefins, such as polypropylene or polyester, used for automotive parts such as bumper fascias and instrument panels, Grandjean said.
The North American operation makes a variety of prototype tooling materials, machinable modeling boards, adhesives and advanced fabrics for customers in the automotive and aerospace industries. The plants also make construction materials.
By the end of 1998, the plants will begin making urethane-based encapsulation systems for electronic components, Grandjean said. Those parts now are made in France.
Axson expects to record about $8 million in North American sales this year, an increase from $5 million a year ago, he said. Worldwide, Axson recorded about $40 million in sales last year.