LONG BEACH, CALIF. — Milacron Inc. has formed a new business unit, Integrated Processing Systems, to grab a bigger piece of the high-tech molding pie — areas such as medical products, smart cards, digital versatile discs and electronics.
Just selling injection molding machines alone to those markets is not good enough, according to Bruce Kozak, a Milacron veteran who was named to run IPS.
``The things we're focusing on are products that require a lot of post-molding work and assembly,'' Kozak said. ``At these companies, high-tech moldings are the vehicle for delivery of the primary end product or services, but may only represent a small portion of the total installed processing system.''
Milacron wants to team up with other components suppliers to provide complete production lines. Injection molding would kick off a manufacturing cell, handing the molded part over to other types of equipment to finish it.
Kozak talked about IPS in a Jan. 12 interview at the Western Plastics Expo in Long Beach.
Kozak, 50, has held a variety of positions at Milacron. Most recently he was the Plastics Technologies Group's vice president of global marketing. As business manager of IPS, he reports to Roland Bechtel, vice president and general manager of Ferromatik Milacron in Malterdingen, Germany.
Kozak said Ferromatik Milacron has the most experience with the systems approach — often linking its high-speed machines with production lines making thin-wall products that require tightly controlled downstream manufacturing. Ferromatik already offers the E50 all-electric machine for molding DVDs, and hydraulic machines for molding smart cards, with embedded computer chips.
Bechtel said: ``Our goal is to extend our European-based technological leadership position into the global markets for sophisticated molding systems.''
Kozak said IPS also will include Milacron's Powerline all-electric machines and the general-purpose Vista machines.
Thin-wall and multimaterial molding are a key part of IPS, he said.
Milacron has had some recent success stories. According to Kozak, Milacron injection presses are being used to mold the Kodak Sport camera, which takes photographs under water, and Gillette's new Mach III razor. He declined to identify the molding companies involved.
Milacron is not a major supplier of presses for CDs, Kozak said. But he said that Milacron's all-electric press technology is making it a player in the fast-growing DVD market. Because electric machines are more precise than hydraulic machines, they are better able to handle the coining process needed to mold DVDs. Coining means that, when molding DVDs, the mold remains a tiny bit open as plastic gets injected, and then closes as the part gets packed out.
Systems-approach molding was a major trend at the K'98 show, held in Dusseldorf, Germany in October. Instead of just dumping parts into a bin, many injection presses were tied into elaborate production cells.
At K, Milacron made a home blood-sugar analyzer that involved molding several components and in-line inspection and packaging.
Milacron's Plastics Technologies Group is based in Batavia, Ohio.