Automotive injection molder InMold Corp. and the owner of an engineering firm are forming a new company to develop structural plastic parts.
The joint venture, InMold Lukmani Design Technologies Inc., will be headed by Nasser Lukmani, a majority owner of Bingham Farms, Mich.-based Design Engineering Services Inc.
As part of the agreement, ILD plans to open a plastic-part design and engineering studio in Rochester Hills, Mich., across the street from two of InMold's plants.
The new ILD facility will act as a technical center for InMold, Lukmani said. It will perform computer-aided design, prototyping and finite-element analysis, and will include a vehicle-tear-down area to evaluate parts assembly.
The 9,000-square-foot leased facility will open in July, Lukmani said. It will employ about 60, including InMold sales engineers working there, he said.
The venture will spend $1.5 million to $2 million to renovate and equip the facility.
Lukmani, who will act as ILD president and chief executive officer, owns 51 percent of the venture. InMold, based in Troy, Mich., owns the other 49 percent.
The facility will help InMold answer the needs of customers, primarily DaimlerChrysler Corp., said David Shifflett, InMold's vice president of business development. Carmakers want their suppliers to be full-service companies, he said.
``DaimlerChrysler is always looking for ways to improve efficiency and take costs out,'' Shifflett said. ``They've asked us to consider making new products for other vehicle lines. It takes a lot of engineering management to do that, and we have that now.''
Several DaimlerChrysler vehicles use a nylon steering column bracket made by InMold that provides structural backing for an instrument panel. The steering column is one of the first to be molded in plastic.
Now, InMold would like to expand its lineup of structural plastic products, Shifflett said. Many of those parts would involve a conversion from metal to plastic.
Rather than set up its own product-development center, InMold opted to use the expertise of Lukmani, who co-founded Design Engineering Services in 1993.
DES, which recorded annual sales of about $1 million, will continue to operate separately from the joint venture, Lukmani said.
``For structural parts, InMold is working in a niche where very few other [plastic] companies operate,'' Lukmani said. ``The joint venture gives them the strength to pursue opportunities.''
Since being formed in 1997, InMold has acquired several other injection molders. They included GP Plastics Inc. of Rochester Hills and AEP Technologies Inc. of Fraser, Mich.
AEP has since moved its facilities adjacent to GP Plastics in Rochester Hills.
InMold recorded about $8.54 million in injection molding sales for the fiscal year ended May 31.