JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. closed its technical center in Elk Grove Village, Ill., late last year, but an improving U.S. market for equipment is causing JSW to reconsider that move, a top executive said at NPE 2003.
In other news, JSW - known in the U.S. market for its injection molding machines - is diversifying into extrusion blow molding machines for automotive fuel tanks and compounding extruders.
JSW President Fumio Hirayama said the company may reopen the Chicago-area technical center. ``We did restructure our company last year,'' he said, but added that JSW now wants to bolster its sales and service organization.
Hirayama is based at JSW Plastics Machinery's main U.S. office in Corona, Calif. The parent company is Tokyo-based Japan Steel Works Ltd.
``The U.S. economy's still not clear yet, but we think it will recover month by month,'' Hirayama said at the show, held June 23-27 in Chicago. Last year, customers didn't have schedules to invest in equipment. ``But we're seeing a bit more direction now,'' he said.
Dennis Pochatek, Midwest regional sales manager, said JSW enjoyed a strong month in May. The company sold several 500-ton machines.
At NPE, JSW was running two all-electric presses. One 200-ton press molded cups in a 12-cavity mold at a 3.25-second cycle.
On the blow molding side, JSW quietly has sold some machines to gas tank suppliers for Honda of America Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. - and at NPE, JSW set its sights beyond the Japanese transplants.
JSW wants to compete for the fuel tank machinery business of North American automakers, said Katsuhito Aoki, group manager for blow molding machinery at the Toyko-based JSW.
The company sold its first blow molding machine in 1981 to make motorcycle fuel tanks in Japan. The company sold two machines to make motorcycle tanks in the United States in 1999. JSW sold 17 five-layer, accumulator-head machines for automotive gas tanks from 1989-92. One went to the United States. The company has sold 15 six-layer machines since 1998; four of those went to U.S. plants.
Aoki said JSW has sold machines to these U.S. plants: Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. in Smyrna, Tenn.; Yachiyo Industry Co. Ltd.'s plant in Marion, Ohio, that supplies tanks plastic tanks to the Honda U.S. headquarters plant in Marysville, Ohio; and this year sold two six-layer lines to FTS Co. Ltd.'s new plant in Lathrop, Calif., that will serve Toyota.
The JSW machines coextrude a main inner layer of high-molecular-weight polyethylene, a barrier layer of ethylene vinyl alcohol to prevent gas permeation, a regrind layer, two adhesive layers of PE and main outer layer of HMWPE.
The continuous-extrusion machine can run 1,325 pounds of plastic an hour for the single-clamp type, or 2,649 pounds for a double-clamp machine.
JSW assembles the machines at a factory in Yokohama, Japan.