DuSSELDORF, GERMANY — Historically, Japanese injection presses have been a tough sell in Europe, but Ube Industries Ltd. thinks it has a solution: a machine that molds two halves of a car intake manifold, then welds them together.
Ube officials described the technology, called DRI, or Die Rotary Injection welding, at a K'98 news conference Oct. 23. On the materials side, Ube introduced a new generation of nylon 12, aimed at multilayer automotive fuel tubes.
The one-step DRI technology already has taken hold in Japan. At K, Ube announced that Toyota Motor Corp. and Diahatsu Motor Corp. are launching the first nylon intake manifolds to use the process.
The manifolds will appear on Toyota's Yaris model and Daihatsu's Mira, said Makoto Nakamura, machinery sales manager at Ube Europe GmbH in Dusseldorf.
Tokyo-based Ube said the DRI process was developed by Daikyo Co. Ltd. in Japan. Initially, the process was used to make simpler products such as oil tanks and canisters.
Here's how the process works: First, the injection press molds two halves of the manifold. Then the die rotates 120 degrees and the halves are welded together while still in the mold. While the first part is being welded together, the press simultaneously molds two new halves.
Ube said it expects other automakers to adopt the process next year.
The firm also introduced Ubesta, a new generation of its nylon 12. Since the plasticizer does not migrate out of the finished product, Ubesta has high burst pressure and strength at low temperatures. That makes Ubesta a good choice for extruded tubing for fuel systems and truck air-brake tubes, the company said.
With the economic downturn in Asia, Ube also wants to become more of a global nylon supplier. Earlier this year, Ube signed a joint venture deal with Cleveland-based M.A. Hanna Co., the second-largest plastics compounder in North America. Ube also expects to expand in Europe or the United States during the first half of 1999.
Ube reported 1997 sales of $2.8 billion. Chemicals and plastic materials account for 39 percent and machinery and engineering for 16 percent.