Palo Alto Products International (Pte.) Ltd. has invested more than $8 million to establish a 30,000-square-foot mold-making facility in Taiwan.
The shop has seven 1997 Makino milling centers, including six to process steel and one for graphite. Five of the centers are computer numerically controlled.
Also, Palo Alto has six 1997 Agie electrical discharge machines, including four sinker units and two wire units.
The shop is located within a 106,000-square-foot Tucheng, Taiwan, facility that employs 200 in tool design and building, injection molding and final assembly of computer enclosures.
The shop's tool design software includes Pro/Engineer, Pro/Moldesign, Pro/Sheetmetal, Pro/NC-Check, Pro/Manufacturing and AutoCAD R14.
Palo Alto will use the molds at plants in Taiwan and the United States, said John Toor, vice president of research and development. The Tucheng site has seven Toshiba presses from 450-850 tons. Affiliated Taiwanese firms also handle molding for the company.
During the past decade, Palo Alto has built a reputation for proprietary designs, but by adding tooling and molding, the firm has positioned itself to handle entire projects.
Currently, the firm employs 40 designers in Palo Alto, Calif., where it is based, and 20 in Taipei, Taiwan. Its design work has served computer original equipment manufacturers such as Dell Computer Corp., Micron Technologies Inc. and Motorola Inc.
But Palo Alto's decision two years ago to broaden its base beyond design work has spawned the mold shop in Taiwan, and a modern injection molding facility in New Braunfels, Texas, set to open in October. Once Palo Alto climbs the learning curve at this first domestic molding plant, other sites will follow in the United States and probably Europe, the company said.
Von Morton, assigned to a two-year stint as tooling design manager for the Taiwan mold-making shop, has more than 30 years' experience in metal fabrication, mold building and computer-aided design—including owning his own tool shop in Alda, Neb., until 1985.
Morton's son Chris joined Palo Alto in December as general manager of the new molding facility now under construction in Texas. In October, that site will begin molding projects the company now handles in Taiwan.
Palo Alto will relocate production of 100,000 computer enclosures a month to Texas and add new projects in Taiwan. The Texas site will have six Krauss-Maffei injection presses with clamping forces of 750 tons, six machines with 330 tons, two with 165 tons and one 122-tonner.
Palo Alto Products also operates a sales and distribution site in Rotterdam, Netherlands.