Gain Technologies Inc. has licensed five patents on gas-assisted molding held by Milacron Inc., in an agreement brokered in Germany between Gain and Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH.
The April 30 agreement covers five Ferromatik patents issued in the early 1990s in Germany, Europe, the United States and Japan.
Gas-assisted injection molding produces hollow parts by injecting gas into the mold, which forces excess plastic out. Under a key patent held by Melea Inc., a Gibraltar firm, overflow wells are used to catch plastic material forced out during molding. Gain, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., markets the Melea patents.
The Ferromatik patents use another method to get the plastic out. ``One of the truly unique patents is that we fill the part in its totality, then we inject gas and push the melt back into the barrel,'' said Robert Hare, general manager for Ferromatik Milacron Europe-U.S.A.
Milacron, based in Cincinnati, bought Ferromatik in Malterdingen, Germany, in 1993.
According to a news release, Melea and Gain have been granted full, exclusive rights to license the Ferromatik patents. Gain and Melea said they now offer a complete portfolio of patents that cover expelling resin either into overflow cavities in the mold, or back into the cylinder of the injection molding machine.
Melea and Gain licensees, and owners of Gain gas control equipment, have the right to use the Ferromatik patents at no additional royalty cost, the companies said. Also, Ferromatik equipment owners can buy a special-offer Melea/Gain license, with reduced royalty fees.
Gain also said it is offering a lower-cost patent license for a limited time to owners of Ferromatik equipment.
The terms cover present and future owners of equipment from each company.
Hare and other U.S.-based Milacron officials did not know specific details about the agreement. No money is changing hands between the companies, according to Ed Smith, vice president of sales and marketing at Gain.
Michael Schneider, engineering manager at Ferromatik Milacron in Germany, said the agreement makes sense for both sides. While Melea patents talk about overflow wells and Ferromatik patents are for expelling the plastic back into the barrel of the injection press, he said there always is the chance that a patent judge could rule that the barrel is in fact an ``overflow cavity.''
Schneider declined to give terms of the licensing agreement, which was announced May 8.