Cascade Engineering Inc. has purchased its second Kautex three-dimensional suction blow molding machine, as Cascade continues to move into automotive ducts using the blow molding process.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cascade and Miniature Precision Components Inc. are the only U.S. processors to use the technology.
Kautex Machines Inc. delivered the 3-D machine in mid-August to Cascade's Automotive Solutions South plant in Grand Rapids. Cascade got its first 3-D Kautex machine in February, a company spokesman said.
Kautex's 3-D suction blow molding machines can produce long, complex, convoluted tubular shapes with minimal flash. The same part can have both rigid and flexible sections, and be coextruded from more than one material. One continuous plastic part replaces traditional tubes and ducts made of steel and rubber parts that then have to be assembled.
Cascade is using suction blow molding to make air-cooler ducts for turbo-charged diesel engines on Ford F Series trucks, a spokesman said. Cascade has been able to reduce the number of parts needed for production with a single, lighter-weight part that also streamlines assembly at the truck factory.
European processors have adopted the process to blow mold automotive ductwork such as air-intake and radiator-coolant tubes. But the 3-D machines still are rare in the United States, as the new Cascade machine marks the fifth one sold to the U.S. market.
Miniature Precision Components, an automotive supplier in Walworth, Wis., runs three of the machines. An MPC spokeswoman said the company bought its first suction blow machine in 2000. MPC purchased its second and third machines in early 2003.
MPC uses the machines to make automotive air ducts, oil fill pipes, power-steering lines and other tubular parts.
Kautex Machines in North Branch, N.J., is the North American unit of Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH of Bonn, Germany.