As vice president of technology for United Plastics Group Inc., Alvarez is a champion of Trexel Inc.'s MuCell molding technology. He has said the microcellular foam molding technique "will change the way this business works."
According to Woburn, Mass.-based Trexel, its MuCell system adds microscopic bubbles to the plastic melt, enhancing numerous processing characteristics.
UPG, based in Westmont, Ill., uses the technology at a number of its plants. The company, which has invested close to $1.5 million in MuCell technology over the last 18 months, is a full-service manufacturer of plastic products for the electronics, medical, consumer and industrial markets.
Since forming in 1999, United Plastics has acquired five companies, including SPM Inc. of Anaheim, Calf., and operates 14 plants in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Wales. In Plastics News' latest ranking of injection molders, the company was 56th with injection molding sales of $105 million. United Plastics Group reported overall 2000 sales of $400 million.
Prior to joining UPG, Alvarez was a principal and consulting engineer for Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Endo-Surgery Division in Cincinnati, where he established and refined the design and manufacture of endoscopic surgical instruments. Prior to that, he served as technology director at P.E. Handley Walker Corp. in Tustin, Calif., a London-based international consulting firm.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree in plastics engineering, Alvarez first worked as a process engineer for the Dixon Industries Division of Furon Co. He later joined Rhone-Poulenc and eventually became head of technical support in injection, compression and laminate technology for North America.
Later he started Tribol Industries, which specialized in compounding and molding high-performance engineering plastics. Tribol was sold to Furon, where Alvarez remained as president and general manager for four years.
Next he started a consulting company called Base Technology, which he ran for five years before joining Hexcel Corp. to work on a project to convert the power generator for the F-18 military fighter jet from magnesium to plastics. After completing that project he returned to Base Technology, which eventually was merged into P.E. Handley Walker.
Alvarez has published more than 70 articles and holds seven patents in plastics engineering.
UPG's Web site is www.unitedplasticsgroup.com.