Mastercraft Cos. has replaced several injection molding presses, added other equipment and intends to boost its capability for medical and other molding.
In the past year, Mastercraft has added three injection molding presses. It acquired a new machine with 400 tons of clamping force in November. The firm brought in two late-model Kawaguchi presses, one of 280 tons and another of 150 tons, in the summer. Mastercraft operates 30 machines of 40-440 tons.
``We are looking at adding a couple of electric presses in the 150-ton range, probably during the second quarter,'' Arle Rawlings, president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix firm, said in a phone interview.
In early 2006, Mastercraft installed a computer numerically controlled, programmable Sprint 250 optical measuring device from Ram Optical.
Mastercraft also obtained a fourth CNC machining center. The center went into operation in September, giving the company added capability, Rawlings said.
The firm's activity is up about 10-15 percent from a year earlier, as competition increases, he said.
``Work is still being exported offshore,'' Rawlings said. ``For us, being a custom molder, it is a constant battle.''
About 45 percent of Mastercraft work involves toolmaking and molding of medical parts including disposables, instrumentation, subassemblies and electromagnetic-interference-shielded components.
Parts for electronics, automotive and industrial applications account for the remainder of the business.
In the economic fallout from Sept. 11, Mastercraft dropped to 50 employees from 120. The company now employs about 70, including seven toolmakers.
It also is seeking to bounce back after a customer relocated work to another area to save freight costs in early 2006. ``That project had kept four presses running around the clock,'' Rawlings said.
Mastercraft had 2006 sales of $8.7 million, down from $10.5 million in the previous year.
Rawlings founded Mastercraft in 1968 to make tools for molding plastic parts and set up Polycraft Industries Inc. as a custom injection molding division in 1982. The molding facility occupies 36,500 square feet and, across a parking lot, the toolmaking structure has 21,500 square feet.