The founder of New Zealand's Mastip Technology Ltd. has started a new hot-runner manufacturing company in Thailand aimed in part at Asia's more cost-conscious manufacturers.
Bob Fill, who founded Auckland, New Zealand-based Mastip in 1992 but left the firm in 2003, said the new company, Volastic Co. Ltd., is just starting. Volastic has manufacturing in Bangkok, Thailand, along with manifold manufacturing with partners in China and India and key component sourcing from Europe.
"It's a soft startup," he said. "It's not like we've built a million-square-foot factory and we're making 1,000 hot-runner systems a month. We probably see ourselves as a niche player, and we'll see how it evolves from there."
Volastic made its debut at the Chinaplas trade show, held April 26-29 in Shanghai. Fill, speaking in a May 10 telephone interview, declined to reveal details of the company's operations, such as capacity or the number of employees, but he said the firm has started manufacturing.
Fill's partners are Sandip Vyas in India and Terry Yau in China.
He said the firm sees its product as midrange in price and not a direct competitor of large hot-runner makers like Moldmasters Ltd., Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. or Synventive Molding Solutions Inc. Volastic will export around the world and is looking at establishing service centers in Europe and the U.S., he said.
Since leaving Mastip three years ago, Fill said he has tried to develop a company with a lower- cost structure, beyond just less-expensive labor. For example, Fill contends that Volastic's Internet-based ordering system makes it easier for customers to specify what they want and eliminates sales costs.
Some Asian firms, he said, are more reluctant to spend money on hot-runner systems than firms in North America or Europe. A hot-runner system can equal the cost of a mold for an Asian firm, while it may only be 25 percent of the cost for a North American or European firm used to paying more for better molds, he said.
"I have a lot of confidence that those [Asian] industries will migrate to a better product," he said. "For a lot of Asian customers, as they are faced with reducing costs, they haven't experienced that paying more is actually cheaper."