JK Molds Inc. is installing its first injection molding machines and further automating machining and toolmaking capabilities.
In January, the firm opens a new technical center at its Upland, Calif., facility, with space allotted for four injection presses and support equipment.
JK invested $1.2 million for capital equipment in 2005 after spending more than $3 million on machine upgrades between 2003 and 2004.
Jack Kelley founded the business in 1970, and stepson Jason Van Noy is now JK Molds' managing partner.
``We have made this investment to compete with offshore [mold makers] and keep work in the United States,'' Van Noy said. JK aims to use engineering knowledge, creativity, available technology and less labor.
JK specializes in close-tolerance tools for medical applications. The new presses include a 400-ton all-electric Nissei and two 100-ton hydraulic Engels.
``The tech center will do inside-testing and first articles for our customers,'' Van Noy said. ``Many customers want three to five tests'' for checking various parameters.
Until 2000, JK was able to use the injection molding capability of then-sister company American Technical Molding Inc., which was sold that year to UTI Corp.
For a newly operational machining center, JK purchased two Makino Inc. high-speed vertical machining centers, each with 30-station tool changers.
One has a spindle speed of 30,000 revolutions per minute and a laser tool setting system from Renishaw plc. The other center, suitable for graphite machining, has a spindle speed of 40,000 rpm and a laser from Blum Laser Measuring Technology Inc.
Together, the Makino centers create an integrated manufacturing cell with a System 3R International AB robot and tooling packaging with a carousel tool and pallet changer and an additional changer magazine rack.
JK also acquired two Hurco Cos. Inc. vertical machining centers, each with a 16-station tool changer and speed of 8,000 rpm.
Reflecting higher productivity, ``we had more sales with less people'' during 2005, Van Noy said. JK recorded sales of more than $6 million last year vs. 2004 sales of less than $5 million.
``Our current utilization of equipment is about 70 percent, giving us room to grow,'' said Rodger Foster, technical sales engineer.
JK Molds employs about 35 and occupies 25,000 square feet. Patrick Elliott was promoted in December to JK Molds president from vice president.