W&M Manufacturing Inc., an Indiana company that does custom metalizing and painting of plastics, has picked up five pieces of equipment from automotive supplier Trident Lighting LLC, which went out of business in June.
W&M makes parts for burial caskets and automotive lighting, often working with its sister companies, injection molder Pier-Mac Plastics Inc. and Accelerated Curing Inc., an ultraviolet-light-curable hard-coating operation.
W&M bought most of the equipment before an Aug. 8 auction was held at Trident Lighting in Kentwood, Mich., including two vacuum metalizers. Accelerated Curing bought a UV curing line.
The equipment will give some new technology to W&M and the ability to hard-coat larger parts, said Todd Pezley, sales manager for the three companies, all based in Portland, Ind.
W&M also will be able to get into new markets, he said, although no final decisions have been made.
The Grand Rapids Press in Michigan reported that Trident Lighting closed down in May, putting about 100 people out of work. The newspaper said the owner, Stillwater Investment Inc., tried and failed to sell Trident, then contacted McTevia & Associates, a Detroit financial management specialist.
Reached by Plastics News, a McTevia spokesman said the owners hired his firm to liquidate Trident Lighting. He had no information about the owners and former management officials, and they could not be reached for comment.
Trident Lighting became an independent company in 1999, when it was spun off from its parent, Trident Automotive Inc. The company, then with 200 employees, manufactured lighting for cars, trucks, motorcycles and off-road vehicles using injection molding and secondary services such as metalizing and hard-coating.
The auction sold 22 injection presses, four thermoset machines, and robots and other auxiliary equipment.
Trident's capabilities included headlights, which require the most demanding metalizing. But Pezley said W&M has steered clear of that application. W&M does side markets, turn-signal reflectors, fog lamps and other nonheadlight work.
The Pier-Mac operation, located in the same building as W&M, runs 12 injection presses molding the lighting and decorative parts for caskets - the company's original business.
The metalizing is done in a cylinder-shaped vacuum chamber. W&M already had three 7-foot-long vacuum metalizers.
Using W&M's current process, according to Pezley, a robot applies a lacquer base coat to the plastic parts. Then employees put the parts on racks and roll them into the chamber.
After metalizing, the crews roll the parts back out and remove them for another coat of lacquer. The parts then are thermally cured.
The two new vacuum metalizers from Trident Lighting use a different process. The machine itself does plasma treating to prepare the surface of the parts, cleans the parts, does the metalizing and applies a silicone-based topcoat - all inside the machine chamber. The closed process avoids any chance of parts becoming contaminated as they get moved in and out during the process.
``It gives us the capability of going for new applications,'' Pezley said. ``We've run into a lot of things over time that we're just not clean enough to process.''
The new technology will enable W&M to produce different types of vehicle lighting that require a cleaner surface, he said.
At the auction, W&M bought two flow coaters, used with the metalizing equipment.
The other piece of pre-auction equipment, a UV hard-coating line, is three times the size of Accelerated Curing's other existing line. ``It expands our capabilities to do larger-sized parts,'' Pezley said.
He said Accelerated Curing coats automotive lenses, sun visors for school buses and other applications.
W&M was founded in 1961 to vacuum metalize zinc decorative parts for caskets. As the casket industry began using plastic parts, the company started Pier-Mac as a custom injection molder in 1975.
The owners started Accelerated Curing in 1994.