Munich-based injection press maker KraussMaffei AG is making news far beyond its Bavarian home base - with cooperation agreements with Chinese toolmaker Ace Mold Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd., a fellow press builder from Japan.
KraussMaffei is expanding its horizons, said Karlheinz Bourdon, who was hired earlier this year as managing director of KM's injection molding machinery division. Bourdon had been Milacron Inc.'s top global machinery executive. But he quit in early 2007 after Milacron went outside the company to hire someone else for that position, bumping Bourdon to a lower job.
On Feb. 1, KraussMaffei named Bourdon to lead its injection molding business.
KraussMaffei and Shenzhen, China-based Ace Mold announced their news in mid-April, a week before Chinaplas in Shanghai. The companies will work together to develop systems for two-shot molding systems, using rotary-platen molds, targeting high-volume applications such as packaging.
During Chinaplas, a KraussMaffei SpinForm press molded a soft-touch handle for a disposable shaving razor on a 24-by-24 cavity stack mold made by Ace. Two mold faces rotated 180 degrees between the two injection units, one molding the polystyrene handle, the other injecting blue Santoprene, the thermoplastic vulcanizate.
The cycle time was less than 10 seconds.
Ace Mold will install a SpinForm with 380 metric tons of clamping force at its factory in Shenzhen. The companies said they have completed one joint project for a customer, which they did not identify.
Demand is increasing for higher technology in China, Bourdon said in an April 18 interview at the Shanghai show.
``That's why we have done that cooperation with Ace Mold, because the technology is known in the industry as a high-end solution,'' he said. ``It offers the customer cost reductions, and if you look at the technology I think it's very interesting and future oriented. Ace Mold is a high-quality mold maker. I think the two partners fit very well together.''
Bourdon said the goal is lower total production costs for the customer. ``Our goal is to serve the high-end customer, global key accounts that are active in the Asian market,'' he said.
KraussMaffei announced the working relationship with Tokyo-based Toshiba in February. The companies have started working on joint projects.
``It's too early to talk about the details. Before the end of the year you will see some results,'' Bourdon said.
It was the second recent hookup between a German and a Japanese injection press maker. Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. has purchased Demag Plastics Group. Toshiba and KraussMaffei are both independent companies and there is no ownership change.
``Ours is a pure technology cooperation,'' Bourdon said.
But some of the principles are the same. Both are leading companies.
``We both have the opinion that we can get better offerings to our customer, wherever he gets equipment from,'' Bourdon said. ``This is what we're thinking about. And also, marketwise, it's very complementary. We are strong in the Western Hemisphere, they are strong in the [Eastern] Hemisphere, so I think also from that regard it's a good addition.''
The Japanese companies are leaders in all-electric injection molding machine technology. KraussMaffei also has all-electric machines. Bourdon would not comment on how the companies might mesh on all-electrics, although he did acknowledge it is a growing business.
``We will support that product, and expand it, in the future,'' Bourdon said.
For KraussMaffei at Chinaplas, injection molding wasn't the only story.
The company showed three extruders built at a factory in Jiaxing, China, near Shanghai, that was set up by parent Mannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH - including the first China-made Berstorff rubber extruder. The other KM-brand extruders at the show were for making pipe and technical profiles siding and custom profiles.
Munich-based MPM is studying whether to use the Jiaxing plant to build all its brands, including KraussMaffei and Netstal presses. Bourdon could not shed any light on future plans.
``We are planning to expand it beyond the extrusion division, but it's too early to talk about it yet,'' he said.