Winning some business back from China, MGS Manufacturing Group is expanding into extrusion blow molding with new machinery and new technology.
The Germantown, Wis.-based firm is partnering with equipment supplier Bekum America Corp. of Williamston, Mich., to develop applications new to MGS, said MGS Vice President Dave Samsone on Nov. 23. MGS already has purchased two blow molding machines and is buying a third, Samsone said.
``This adds versatility and more facets to what we can do,'' Samsone said. ``It also fits into our product lines. We're already doing two-shot molding of closures, and we can provide an entire bottle with a closure.''
MGS will use the Bekum equipment to create a blow molding center at its recently expanded Germantown plant, Samsone said. In April, it received a continuous shuttle machine with a six-head manifold system from Bekum. The equipment, with built-in automation, is running home-care containers, Samsone said.
A second machine, with one, three and six heads, arrived Nov. 10 at MGS, Samsone said. That equipment will run 1.7-gallon surgical scrub bottles and cleaning solution containers, he said.
The launch of MGS' blow molding area has attracted at least two customers that previously had run those products in China, Samsone said.
The use of heavy automation, and the consequent shrinkage of labor costs, helped spur those decisions, he said. The products automatically are deflashed, inspected, boxed and moved along a steadily rolling assembly line. The company also ships products to customers within a day for final assembly.
``Our customers can plan inventories for 60-90 days ahead,'' he said. `There's no having to clear customs and wait for products to be delivered.''
By the end of November, MGS expects to take delivery of a shuttle machine that produces polycarbonate bottles. The PC bottles primarily will be used for water and dispensing containers used inside a refrigerator or behind a restaurant bar, he said.
MGS also started industrial blow molding work. At its Libertyville, Ill., plant, MGS is using a Davis-Standard two-head, 10-ounce accumulator machine to make big double-wall cases, he said.
MGS would like to become a major blow molder that rivals its burgeoning injection molding capabilities. During the past decade, MGS has grown from its roots as a toolmaker of injection molds to become a leading producer of multishot injection molded parts, portable two-shot equipment and turnkey assembly operations.
The company's newest venture includes a joint venture with German film producer Albea Kunststofftechnik GmbH and Co. KG to make parts using in-mold decoration. Some of that work could translate into blow molded parts, Samsone said.
MGS' engineering focus and aggressive growth impressed Martin Stark, president of Bekum America. Bekum has been a development partner and an equipment supplier for the formative push by MGS into blow molding
``In specialty applications, I think they are going to be a power to deal with in blow molding,'' Stark said. ``They are always pushing us and challenging us with new thinking and out-of-the-box applications. They aren't making your typical 16-ounce bottle.''
For example, MGS is working with Bekum to perfect technology to make lenticular lens labels - which appear to move or appear three-dimensional - on blow molded parts. Other firms already use the technology on injection molded and thermoformed parts.
MGS spent about $1.5 million for the two extrusion blow molding machines and will spend more than $600,000 for the PC bottle-making unit, Samsone said.
Last year MGS recorded about $118 million in sales. The privately held company is one of North America's largest toolmakers.