CHULA VISTA, CALIF. — Nypro Inc. has added sophisticated sensing and testing technology in a California plant to support a program for Nokia Oyj, and the investment is paying off. Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, the world's largest cellular telephone manufacturer, required Nypro and an unidentified European-based injection molder and plater to cooperate in transferring technology to facilitate the phone maker's global expansion.
Using the technology, Nypro automatically assembles slide covers for Nokia's model-8860 cell phones in an injection molding area in Chula Vista. Nypro also transferred the molding technology to a plant in Shenzhen, China.
Subcontractors electroplate parts for each location.
"We had responsibility for the technical and manufacturing transfer and molding and plating," Michael McGee, program manager with the Nypro Engineering Services unit in Clinton, Mass., said in a telephone interview.
The technology transfer and production trials occurred during the first half of 1999.
This program demonstrates a growing need for integrated multilocation, multifaceted global manufacturing, McGee said.
Nypro's Automated Assemblies unit, also in Clinton, built customized end-of-arm devices with fiber-optic sensors to assure smooth molding operations.
"We are sensing the subrunner to make sure we've got it before the mold closes," Richard Even, general manager of the Nypro San Diego Inc. subsidiary, said during a tour of the plant in Chula Vista.
Nypro San Diego began running the bicomponent parts in September on two Netstal 175-ton injection molding presses and three Engel 250-ton units.
Separately, Nypro San Diego is gearing up in another room to do its first decoupled molding.
In mid-April, the site received delivery of a 500-ton Engel. Decoupled molding enables the mold to communicate with the press on a shot-by-shot basis.
The operation soon will begin producing a base for a laptop computer. Another 500-ton Engel is due in August.
In addition, Nypro San Diego is creating an engineering center with a Pro/Engineer computer-aided-design workstation to support two of its customers. Nypro San Diego has used AutoCad and CadKey software.
A toolroom maintains molds but also serves as the engineering department for one customer.
"We maintain their part drawings, tool drawings and concepts," he said. The operation obtains most other molds from four Nypro mold-making shops.
Nypro San Diego has about 100 employees. Operations are housed in a 70,000-square-foot plant, operating a total of 29 injection molding machines with clamping forces from 60-500 tons. That includes 13 presses in a Class 100,000 clean room, largely used for health-care parts.
Sister operation Nypro Precision Assemblies Inc. has 10,000 square feet in the same Chula Vista building and also has Tijuana, Mexico, facilities for maquiladora assembly work. The two businesses collaborate on various projects and, to improve communications, recently combined their services in Chula Vista for scheduling, planning and materials management.
Electronics and telecommunications will account for about 60 percent of this year's sales for Nypro San Diego.
The same segment represents about 35 percent of this year's expected $600 million in global sales for Clinton-based Nypro.