CLEVELAND — AmeriPlas Machinery Corp. moved to a bigger factory last year, and the facility has allowed AmeriPlas to start building vertical-clamp insert molding machines to stock.
``This building is orders of magnitude better from a materials-handling standpoint than our old building,'' said Forest A. Rose Jr., the former top engineer at Newbury Industries Inc. who founded AmeriPlas.
AmeriPlas moved from a rented, 10,000-square-foot space in a maze-like Cleveland industrial complex. ``It was very difficult to work in,'' Rose said.
The company bought a former machine shop, a 15,000-square-foot building on the other side of town. The plant has an overhead crane.
Rose left Newbury about 10 years ago. At first, AmeriPlas remanufactured vertical injection presses, adding new controls, hydraulics or other components. The firm then began building new machines. Its first new Vortex press hit the market at NPE '94.
AmeriPlas makes vertical-clamp presses with horizontal injection units in clamping forces of 30-150 tons, and vertical-clamp machines with vertical injection units from 15-60 tons. All the presses have a C-frame design.
Although Rose won't disclose dollar sales, he said the goal is to build about 50 machines this year. AmeriPlas' 15 employees do much of the work: weld press frames and machine platens and other metal parts.
Ameriplas touts its machines as fast-moving, easy-to-use, and low-priced. One reason: It makes its own controllers at an in-house operation called Injection Precision Controls Corp. Rose started that business as a sideline while he was working at Newbury as chief engineer and director of research and development.
The controller on an AmeriPlas injection press looks like a throwback to the relay-switch days, with no computer screen and mechanical settings. Rose said the controller actually is technologically advanced — just easy to use.
For setting up a machine, mechanical switches are easier to use than a computer screen, he said. Operators use a printed setup sheet — a seeming heresy in today's world of setup recipes stored in a computer.
But ``that's the idea,'' Rose said. ``People can visualize this. They can understand it. We try to take all the scariness out of controls. You don't have to feel like you know how to run a computer.''
AmeriPlas has designed Vortex presses to be easy to maintain. Opening the controller panel in the back of the press reveals basic fuses. A hydraulic manifold rests high up on the back of the machine, so it's easier to reach. Standard components, available off-the-shelf around the world, plug in for quick replacement. Fittings for the mold-cooling system are placed right by the mold. The machines require no lubrication.
Rose is chief executive officer. His two sons also work at AmeriPlas. Forest A. Rose III is president. Paul Rose handles electronics and controls.
AmeriPlas claims its machines sell for one-half to one-third the price of competing machines. Prices range from $31,500 for a 30-ton press to $99,500 for a 150-ton press.