Canon Virginia Inc. of Newport News, Va., is using quick-tooling technology to go along with its injection molding expertise.
Parent firm Canon Inc. of Tokyo, which produces business machines, cameras and optical products, developed proprietary software for injection mold manufacturing as a way to get Canon products to market faster. The software rapidly transfers designs into machine code.
The technology is in use at Canon Virginia, which began making complex precision steel tooling in September 2004. Now, the operation uses about 5 percent of the tools for in-house Canon work and sells the remainder to external end users.
The tooling operation employs 20 in mold design, programming and manufacturing. The shop operates nine computer numerically controlled machining centers, five wire and plunge electric discharge machines, two mills, two grinders and a lathe.
Plans for 2006 call for filling 14 more mold-making positions and adding a heat-treating chamber, a CNC lathe and a Makino V-77 vertical machining center.
Canon Virginia injection molds about 25 percent of its parts for in-house requirements and makes the rest for outside customers. The molding operation employs 50 and operates 18 presses with 75-650 tons of clamping force, including the 2005 addition of a 75-ton machine and a 350-ton unit. This year, a 450-ton press will replace an existing machine.
Some of Canon Virginia's largest end users operate in the consumer products, packaging closures and outdoor power equipment industries. Canon Virginia works through design-for-manufacturing issues with each customer and uses its U.S. location to help them speed products to market.
Canon Virginia's combined molding and toolmaking operations occupy more than 75,000 square feet and recorded 2005 sales of $9.8 million, up from the previous year's $9.3 million.