The following items were gathered by staff reporters Joseph Pryweller and Angie DeRosa from Plastics Encounter Cleveland, held June 19-21.
Z Corp. tests latestprototyping printer
Z Corp., a maker of rapid-prototyping equipment for plastic parts, is entering the world of commercial color printers.
The Burlington, Mass., company is testing a line of its prototyping printers with Xerox Corp. for possible mass distribution, said sales manager Tim McGrath. Testing is taking place in Chicago, but no decisions have been made on whether the companies will work together in the future.
A Xerox collaboration could build traction for the rapidly growing company. Z Corp., which expanded its manufacturing facility in 2000, calls itself the developer of the world's fastest three-dimensional printer. The device makes powder-based parts in full color, from computer-aided-design formats and by using digital data in other media.
``The time is here when you can use a personal computer or laptop to make a part,'' McGrath said. ``The 3-D printer market is starting to explode.''
Rapid-prototyping experts, including Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo., have said they expected larger firms to enter the field and bring prototype printing to a larger audience. Z Corp. introduced 3-D color printing in March 2000.
The company's new Z406 color printer - printing as much as 160 cubic inches of finished part per hour - uses print heads from Hewlett-Packard Co. that can be purchased at office supply stores. Other Z Corp. printers use a bubble-jet print head from Canon Inc.
Z Corp. exhibited its new printer at Plastics Encounter Cleveland.
``It eliminates a lot of the upfront costs of prototyping,'' said marketing associate Jenna Dziedzic. ``Most customers operate the printer during work and make the actual part much later.''
The printers, costing $45,000-$70,000, are used by many major U.S. corporations, including several automakers, and consumer product companies such as Nike Inc. and Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Z Corp. recorded sales of $10.5 million last year, growing more than 60 percent from 1999.
Mold-Masters offers more online options
Mold-Masters Ltd. has filled in the blanks for its online hot-runner ordering system by offering more design tools over the Internet.
The company, based in Georgetown, Ontario, has upgraded its design option on its Web site, www.moldmasters.com, to include complete hot-half sections for hot-runner systems. Tools on the site allow customers to position hot runners, resist injection pressures and provide better thermal management.
Mold-Masters first introduced its pioneering ordering and design Web site, called Merlin, at NPE 2000. While online ordering activity has been slow to date, many customers of the mold supplier have used the site to check system requirements and help with design, said Wayne Stoddard, manager of Mold-Masters' marketing services group.
The program configures the right system for a given application.
``We do see a lot of activity, from qualifying and checking systems to speeding program development,'' Stoddard said June 19 at Plastics Encounter Cleveland. ``It's been an invaluable resource for that. And we expect ordering activity to pick up as more customers get used to the system.''
The company also plans to complete work on its new Sumare, Brazil, plant by January, Stoddard said. Mold-Masters has invested $4 million to build the manufacturing plant, and equipment already is in place.
The company also is developing plans to expand both its Singapore plant, which opened in 2000, and its facility in Baden Baden, Germany, he said.
The Brazil plant will start making manifolds, hot-half plates and other components and eventually could product complete hot-runner systems.
KTech mold-repair office opens in N.J.
The Mold Doctor is in.
KTech Industry Inc., a maker of mold-repair equipment based in Seoul, South Korea, has opened its first North American office, in East Brunswick, N.J. The company will sell its patented Mold Doctor applicator gun and related hardening equipment to North American molders from the new office, said Steve Park, KTech vice president of sales.
The equipment allows injection molders to make minor tool repairs while the mold is inside an injection press, said Park, interviewed June 19 at Plastics Encounter Cleveland. The system uses electrical sparks instead of heat to repair steel and aluminum molds and dies.
``We can repair molds with no heat stress on parting lines,'' Park said. ``It is used quite a bit in Europe and Asia, but we need to build more interest here.''
The company employs six at its New Jersey office and has 11 field representatives. The equipment will continue to be made in South Korea while KTech builds market awareness here, Park said.
The equipment includes an electro-spark metal surface deposition and hardening machine that transfers pulses from electrodes through an applicator gun. The electrical pulses dissolve on the mold surface and produce an ionized alloy that bonds to the mold and hardens.
The process can be used to prevent erosion, heat cracking and scuffing on the mold over time, Park said. Several U.S.-based companies have been using Mold Doctor since early this year, he added.
Van Dorn receives Governor's award
Van Dorn Demag Corp. is the latest recipient of the Governor's award from the Ohio Award for Excellence, disclosed at Plastics Encounter Cleveland June 19-21.
Bob Spreat, marketing communications manager, said the award is the highest achievable from the nonprofit organization, which helps Ohio-based companies become more quality focused, competitive and profitable. This was the first year for the Level 4 award, the highest achievable. Last year, Van Dorn was among four other companies honored with the then-highest Level 3.
The most recent award is based on seven criteria, including leadership, strategic planning customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource management and business results. Companies must nominate themselves.
Van Dorn will be presented with the award at a ceremony this September in Columbus, Ohio.