Auburn Engineering Inc. has added space, equipment and personnel in Michigan to handle growth and diversification in rapid prototype tooling and injection molding.
Auburn opted to broaden services to existing customers, President Reid Scott said in a telephone interview.
"We have been molding prototype parts for over eight years," Scott said. "We started molding production parts within the last year."
Auburn sees potential in limited automotive runs.
"No more are the days of 400,000 Tauruses or Camrys," said Joe Baiz, senior account manager. "The specialized or personalized vehicle demands builds of less than 100,000 of any particular interior package."
The firm employs 70, up from 37 at the start of 2000.
In February, Auburn opened its third facility, in a 32,000-square-foot building in Chesterfield Township, near Rochester Hills, Mich. The facility is used exclusively for injection molding for prototype parts and short production runs.
Auburn relocated five Van Dorns of 75-650 tons from its adjacent tool shop and added four Van Dorns of 300-500 tons. A 120-ton Van Dorn is to arrive in June. Auburn invested about $750,000 for the equipment and building improvements.
The move opened breathing space for Auburn to expand tool building and assembly by converting the former injection molding area. The 18,000-square-foot tool shop has a full range of computer numerically controlled machines.
Fifteen miles away, Auburn has a 22,000-square-foot headquarters and technical center in Rochester Hills.
In addition to automotive, other key end markets include appliances, consumer products and heavy trucks, Scott said.
The firm recognizes a market need for aluminum production tooling suitable for runs of 500-10,000 parts per year. Often, Auburn makes an aluminum tool for prototypes and later upgrades the tool with slides, lifters and steel as needed for short-run production.
"This technique offers savings in both cost and timing" vs. traditional steel tooling, Scott said.
Auburn Engineering had sales of $10.6 million last year. Scott, who founded the business in 1989, projects sales of $12 million in 2001.