Custom heavy-gauge thermoformer Ray Products Inc. of Ontario, Calif., has invested about $1 million to add custom-built equipment and infrastructure to produce large parts.
The addition, which the company said includes ``the largest rotary thermoforming machine in the western United States,'' positions the firm to pursue work on recreational vehicles, pools and spas and truck-bed liners, said Brian Ray, president.
Ray committed to the investment despite the electricity, tax and insurance costs facing manufacturers in California. He said he intends to stay in the state.
The highly automated, three-station rotary from Modern Machinery of Beaverton Inc. has a forming window of 10 feet by 18 feet, electric drive platens and a servo-drive index. The model 1018 223R is effective with cut sheets that are 0.06- to 0.5-inch thick.
In customizing the machine, ``We automated every activity and successfully tied into the control system,'' Ray said.
Solar Products Inc. of Pompton Lakes, N.J., built the oven's heavily zoned electric infrared radiant panels for assembly with the carousels and other components at Modern's plant in Bea-verton, Mich. Ray opted for electric heating instead of natural gas.
``The heaters gave them the zone control they were looking for, and energy efficiency and durability,'' said Mike Sirotnak, Solar vice president.
Ray Products ordered the equipment in February and began operating the unit, its ninth, in July.
The new press required 2,000 square feet of floor space.
``We used some lean principles and relocated other equipment,'' Ray said.
The firm's next-largest machine has a forming window of 6 feet by 9 feet.
Part designers, engineers and purchasing managers no longer need to look only at the Midwest for large-part capabilities, Ray said.
Ray Products employs 52 in 48,000 square feet and had 2004 sales of about $5.5 million.