ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Custom injection molder United Plastics Group Inc. has embraced Trexel Inc.'s licensed MuCell microcellular-molding technology.
"We have close to $1.5 million in [MuCell] capital investment over the last 18 months," said Robert Alvarez, United's corporate vice president of technology.
He called MuCell a total engineering concept that will "change the way this business works."
United obtained its first MuCell license in late 1999 through its acquisition of Hanson Group Ltd. of Ludlow, Mass.
United's MuCell development work includes a polycarbonate surgical skin stapler handle that United molded on a 150-ton Engel and showed in a case study at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West 2001 show, held Jan. 8-10 in Anaheim.
"We were able to demonstrate a 37 percent reduction in cycle time with no impact on dimensionals or mechanical properties," he said.
Other projects involve products for the home construction industry and the consumer market.
"We are going into a pilot plant demonstration with an expectation to be in commercial production by this summer," Alvarez said.
United has the MuCell process on three Engel presses at United's new Chicopee, Mass., plant. A 60-ton Engel with MuCell capability is scheduled to arrive in February.
"We will probably add two to six MuCell cells," he said. Development cells will operate in Chicopee and Anaheim, where Alvarez is based, and production cells for medical products will be located in Chicopee and Fremont, Calif.
United's Chicopee site employs 180 and consolidates operations from eight buildings in nearby Ludlow, Mass., including about 34 presses. Another 15 machines represent a portion of the inventory from a Mayfield, Ky., plant that United closed Dec. 31.
Westmont, Ill.-based United employs 3,800, had 2000 sales of $400 million and continues to seek more acquisitions, said William Kriss, United president and chief executive officer. Aurora Capital Group of Los Angeles owns United, which began in September 1999 as an acquisition vehicle.