Eastman Kodak Co. on Dec. 13 spun off its molding plants for recordable compact discs to a new joint venture company. The venture intends to add capability to mold digital versatile discs by mid-2000. "We will have more equipment and more people," said Ram Nomula, chief manufacturing officer for the new venture, Matsushita Media Manufacturing LLC of America.
Panasonic Disc Services Corp. holds 51 percent of the firm, and Kodak 49 percent. The venture will supply optical media products to both parent firms.
Panasonic President Robert Pfannkuch was named president of the new company. Panasonic and the venture are based in Torrance, Calif.
Kodak of Rochester, N.Y., and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, provided funding, intellectual property and technical expertise, and Kodak also contributed optical disc manufacturing sites in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Youghal, Ireland. Panasonic is a subsidiary of Matsushita Electric.
The 200,000-square-foot Guadalajara plant employs 500 and operates 32 injection molding machines with an annual capacity of 100 million discs.
The 120,000-square-foot Youghal operation employs 270 and operates 20 presses with an annual capacity of 80 million discs. Kodak established the site in 1996 to supply European, African, and Middle Eastern marketplaces.
The sites only use 35-ton Sumitomo machines. The venture will buy more Sumitomos for molding new DVD products, according to Nomula.
In 2000, the venture will add capacity to make 20 million to 30 million DVDs, he said.
The venture "will create a formidable manufacturing capability in optical media for sound, video and data recording," Willy Shih, president of Kodak's Digital and Applied Imaging business unit, said in a news release.