MGS Manufacturing Group has formed a joint venture with a German firm to make parts using in-mold decoration.
MGS is adding two special manufacturing cells at its Germantown, Wis., headquarters to mold parts using printed polycarbonate film. The film is transferred to an injection press and molded with the part, said MGS marketing director John Berg.
The process is popular in Europe for such items as automotive and telecommunication parts but is not readily used in North America, Berg said.
``We've had to spend a considerable number of hours in training to get ready for this,'' he said. ``The biggest investment has been in time.''
The company has formed a 50-50 partnership with Seelbach, Germany-based Albea Kunststofftechnik GmbH and Co. KG. Albea has almost 20 years of experience using in-mold film technology, Albea sales manager Olaf Sillmann said at the show.
Albea is owned by parts producer Balda AG of Bad Oeynhausen, Germany.
The new company, in Germantown, will be called Albea Technologies LLP. A sister division in Seelbach uses 39 manufacturing cells owned by Albea Kunststofftechnik. The parts being made in Germantown will use film printed in Germany, at least until the venture grows, according to Berg.
MGS is adding two Toshiba all-electric injection presses with a clamping force of 220 tons, Staubli six-axis robots, a conveyor system and a double-sided, end-of-arm tooling system, Berg said. MGS is in the process of installing the equipment.
The in-mold decorating technology will be used for single-cavity tooling and is especially suited for parts made from PC or polypropylene, Berg said.
Either PC or PC/polybutylene terephthalate film can be used for printing, said Albea Technologies General Manager Thomas Breithaupt. Foil also can be used.
The decorating equipment will be added at MGS' 100,000-square-foot manufacturing site used by its Tecstar assembly division. The expanded building opened in September 2002.
If the Albea venture grows, the company eventually might look for an outside location, Berg said. Applications include automotive interior applications and the housings of cellular phones.
The foil can be illuminated without the use of light rods through a reaction with an electrical current.