Routing and trimming equipment maker Motionmaster Inc. has opened its first facility for manufacturing thermoforming machines.
In early January, Motionmaster began producing a standardized, single-station machine with a 5-foot-by-10-foot forming area and precision controls.
``We have orders for six vacuum forming machines,'' Scott Bollar, Motionmaster president and owner, said in an office interview in Vista.
Bollar acquired Motionmaster from his father in January 2001. He moved into thermoforming machines two months later when he bought a significant equity interest in Vector Machinery Inc. of Asheboro, N.C. Vector makes high-end custom thermoforming equipment for heavy-gauge cut sheet. Richard Brashier, Vector's founder, retains a significant stake and continues as Vector president.
Together, the men developed the new line, which links Vector's thermoforming technology and Motionmaster's strength in computer numerically controlled automation systems. The new line uses closed-loop servomotion control of the platen positions and movement and emulates CNC tools in motion components, position feedback systems and frame construction.
Bollar said the concept brings a new level of precision and control to the typically manual thermoforming process.
By May, Motionmaster will offer an add-on trimming station option to the new machine.
Bollar plans to concentrate on making vacuum formers, but ``we could adapt to pressure forming with the same structure,'' he said.
Motionmaster builds the machines in its 95,000-square-foot facility in Vista.
``The cost of the machine will be very competitive with other single-station machines,'' Bollar said. Motionmaster's tools trim, rout, saw, drill and shape nonferrous materials and include five-axis CNC routers that have gained wide market acceptance for trimming thermoformed parts.
Motionmaster employs 60 and had 2001 sales of $17 million. About 30 percent of sales go to thermoformers and another 20 percent to pattern makers. About 10 percent is exported, mostly to Europe. Bollar said he thinks Motionmaster could have made another $3 million in sales without the market-crippling aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Soon, Vector customers will be able to buy a Motionmaster controller with each Vector thermoforming machine. Currently, Vector installs Allen-Bradley controls from Rockwell Automation. Bollar said the the new option will be less expensive.
Vector employs 10 and is adding 10,000 square feet to its 20,000-square-foot facility.
Motionmaster intends to open a central Michigan site for sales, demonstration and training.