Gerald Hobson's patented blow mold technology will gain new life as part of an agreement with Progressive Components Inc.
Hobson Consulting Ltd. will work with Progressive, a mold parts supplier in Wauconda, Ill., to produce and sell a new line of blow mold components that will be launched in June at NPE 2003.
The products will make up one of the first catalogs of standardized parts for the blow mold industry, said Progressive President Glenn Starkey.
As important, it returns Hobson, former owner of Shell Rock, Iowa-based Hobson Mould Works Inc., to the technology he helped pioneer in the late 1990s.
Facing cash-flow issues, Hobson Mould Works went out of business in May 2001. A month later, Progressive purchased the company's 15 patents and four trademarks at a one-day auction that lined the streets of tiny Shell Rock.
Hobson Mould Works was considered one of the nation's leading blow mold makers before its financial troubles. The company hosted annual technology seminars and patented a number of custom processes it used for tooling projects.
``I'm really glad that Progressive stepped up and bought the patents,'' Hobson said. ``After giving seminars and teaching different companies about this technology, I hated to see it end. It adds a lot of value for toolmakers.''
Progressive, a global producer of injection mold parts, bought the patents even though the company had not refined the notion of standard, off-the-shelf components for blow molds, Starkey said. ``We saw this as a wide-open opportunity for an under-served production tooling segment,'' Starkey said April 8. ``Here's a guy with a good reputation and ideas, who is known as an innovator in custom components. Standard components are our specialty, so we saw an alliance as a wonderful thing to do.''
Blow molding has grown as a preferred process for rigid packaging, automotive and industrial uses, part of a conversion for many hollowed-out parts, Hobson said. ``That's a difficult process to send to China because of the parts shipments,'' he said. ``You're shipping air.''
The patents purchased by Progressive include those to make in-mold mechanisms for guillotine and deflashing, Hobson said. Using mechanisms instead of knives or razors decreases labor costs and avoids the problem of carpal tunnel syndrome, he said.
Another patent involves parts for changing the head of a tool in less than 20 minutes.
Hobson Consulting started about two years ago in Shell Rock. The company advises on sales and marketing, working with mold makers and parts producers, Hobson said.
His work with Progressive will include marketing components to potential customers and the design of the standardized parts, he said. While Hobson's patents are converted to products, Progressive is fighting another battle.
The company has contacted some of its mold-component competitors that it says are violating the patents. ``We're assuming that because Hobson [Mould Works] is no longer in business, they thought the patents were null and void,'' Starkey said.
``Nothing could be further from the truth.''