BATAVIA, OHIO - Uniloy Milacron's Industrial Blow Molding unit is touting the sale of a large dual-clamp blow molding machine to a Newell Rubbermaid Inc. plant in Luxembourg as proof the machinery maker has come into its own.
Newell Rubbermaid began using the machine earlier this year to blow mold wall and roof panels for a storage-shed product that it launched in Europe.
Milacron Inc. introduced its large accumulator-head blow molders in 1995. Today the company builds about 50 machines a year at its main plant in Batavia, Ohio. The company claims to hold a 45 percent share of the North American market of around 100-120 industrial blow molders a year.
``We supply more industrial accumulator-head blow molding machines than anyone in North America,'' said Rich Morgan, manager of business development for blow molding, during an April 24 interview in Batavia, home to Milacron's Plastics Technologies Group.
The industrial blow molding business became much more global after Milacron bought the Uniloy blow molding machinery operations from Johnson Controls Inc. in 1998. That acquisition gave Milacron capacity to make blow molding machinery in Europe.
The industrial blow molding business works with the Uniloy Milacron plant in Milan, Italy, Morgan said. The Italian plant builds about 25 industrial blow molding machines a year.
With global demand for large accumulator-head machines at about 180 a year, Morgan said that together, the Ohio and Italian plants supply about 40 percent of the world market. The plants share technology, which resulted in Batavia getting an early start on the North American adoption of Europe's standard for intermediate bulk containers.
``We've also adopted radial-wall programming from Uniloy Europe on 55-gallon drums of high-molecular-weight resins,'' Morgan said.
The process produces containers with high strength while selectively reducing wall thickness.
The Batavia plant exports about 10 machines a year, mostly to automotive plants in China and Latin America, where they turn out parts such as seat backs, bumper beams and fan shrouds. But with the automotive market slowing, the Newell Rubbermaid machine marks an important diversification move.
The tandem T1600 blow molding machine running the storage-shed panels is actually two blow molders connected, side-by-side. The two-clamp setup saves floor space and creates a space-saving manufacturing cell, so Newell Rubbermaid can mold all the parts for a single shed in one area.
Newell Rubbermaid needed one blow molder immediately, so Uniloy Milacron shipped the first module separately. The press began production last November. The second module arrived later, and the completed tandem machine was producing parts in January.
Uniloy Milacron also makes blow molders for making bottles at its plant in Manchester, Mich., and at the Milan operation.