CHICAGO (June 30, 2:50 p.m. EDT) — SIG Kautex Inc. is opening a showcase laboratory in the Detroit area for its three-dimensional suction blow molding process, a technology that dominates many auto applications in Europe but seldom is used in North America.
SIG wants to boost the low-profile technology it believes offers cost and time benefits to automotive suppliers, said Jack Tinsley, director of 3-D application development.
The firm will combine its marketing muscle with the expertise of toolmaker Roush Manufacturing Inc. of Livonia, Mich. They will collaborate to make prototype parts that can be tested on the SIG equipment.
The companies will work at a new 3-D applications development center at Roush's Livonia headquarters, set to open by July 31. The center will demonstrate the technology on SIG equipment, conduct mold trials, make molds for the process and conduct product-development work, Tinsley said.
SIG holds the exclusive patent to sell the suction blow molding process in North America, Tinsley said. It has sold 79 machines since 1985 but with only three installations in North America — all at Miniature Precision Components Inc. of Walworth, Wis.
In the suction blow molding process, pressure on the mold pushes out the parison, which is supported by air. The process works well for multimaterial applications, where both a soft and hard finish are required, Tinsley said. The machines produce seamless tubular shapes that contain little flash. In Europe, they are used for coextruded air-intake and radiator-coolant tubes.
“We need to be near our Detroit customers,” he said. “They don't always want to travel a long distance to see the technology.”