IRVINE, CALIF. — Milacron LLC is moving forward with its High Impact Technical Centers, first with one in Mexico and now its newest site in Irvine.
The machinery maker also is planning an HIT site in Southlake, Texas, to go along with its acquisition of a manufacturers' representative company and a used equipment company earlier this month.
The Southlake site should be open within 60 days, while two more regional centers will open in the U.S. in 2014 and 2015, said Shawn Reilley, group vice president of sales and marketing for Milacron's global plastics machinery business.
In a Feb. 10 interview at the Irvine center, Reilley characterized recent Milacron investments as "staggering" and "continuous" under its new owner. Affiliates of private equity firm CCMP Capital Advisors LLC of New York acquired Milacron in April 2012.
Since then, Milacron purchased Mold-Masters Ltd. of Georgetown, Ontario, in 2013 and Southlake-based sister companies Industrial Machine Sales Inc. and Precise Plastics Machinery in early 2014.
"We have expanded our sales and sales support staff by 50 percent over 12 months," Reilley said. Globally, Milacron's machinery business segment anticipates adding 300 manufacturing and engineering jobs during 2014.
Reilley said Milacron has the scale, technological leadership, international presence and competitive positioning to deliver value-added solutions to customers globally in a range of markets for automotive, packaging, consumer good, building product, electronic and medical applications.
The first HIT center opened in Queretaro, Mexico, last year.
The new center in Irvine has a showroom and customer training area and is equipped to provide aftermarket parts, technical services and retrofit-rebuilt capabilities.
During the Feb. 10-12 open house at the leased 17,000-square-foot center, operations manager Bill White oversaw demonstrations of a Magna T 55 servo hydraulic toggle press, a Roboshot S165iA press with an E-Multi secondary auxiliary injection unit and Fanuc 31iB control and an all-electric Elektron E400 injection molding machine with a new guard format, Endura touch control and greaseless part-drop area.
The Magna T molded 4-inch-diameter polypropylene discs with an in-mold labeling component. The Roboshot molded two-component PP poker chips. The Elektron molded dinner plates of an acrylic styrene blend with in-mold labeling.
Nick Petruzzi, regional sales manager for North America for Mold-Masters, focused on trends and challenges faced by medical molders. The medical industry uses more than 1.8 million tons of resin each year.
"More than 50 percent of medical products are made out of plastics," Petruzzi said.
With people living longer, the medical industry will only grow, he said, while at the same time, the flexible design options and low production costs will see plastics win more business over other materials.
Medical molding requires "repeatable and precise tolerance more so than any other industry," Petruzzi said.
Other challenges include the operation of highly regulated and climate-controlled clean room environments, process monitoring throughout the production cycle, multi-material applications which need an electric auxiliary injection molding machine, and the issue of prolonging shelf life and quality of medical samples through use of co-injected containers and vials.
Deep draw parts are another challenge. Petruzzi noted Mold-Masters' Melt-Cube side-gated solution and the use of more high-caliber valve gating for deep-draw parts.
The addition of Precise Plastics Machinery, meanwhile, is part of a growing business for Milacron in the aftermarket area, said Dean Roberts, president of the aftermarket business.
Milacron saw "a need for more focus on the aftermarket side of its injection molding and extrusion [machinery] business in North America," he said. Aftermarket was a driver in establishing the Mexico technical center.
At Irvine, the aftermarket business demonstrated its expanded interactive parts catalog, and cited its recently introduced interactive technical manuals, which Milacron sells for less than $10,000 as an option with new machine sales.
Milacron introduced the manual at K 2013 in November. In January, it added Portuguese to the language selections — along with English, Spanish and German — which will allow it to eye more sales in Brazil.
Roberts said the aftermarket unit has a role in handling customer rebuilds and retrofits stemming from the newly formed Milacron certified pre-owned machinery business. The team in Southlake is directly involved in the sales for the pre-owned segment, and the Roberts organization will handle the retrofit and rebuild aspects.
Roberts said the pre-owned initiative recognizes the increasing demands of customers.
Milacron LLC is based in Cincinnati, and the plastics machinery and aftermarket businesses operate from quarters in Batavia, Ohio.
Scott Merrill is Milacron's veteran sales manager for western U.S. region injection molding systems and technology.
The region's sales team includes Tim Bruder in central California and northern Arizona; Kevin Gipson in the Northwest Mountain States; Mike Furry in southern California and Arizona and the western Mexico portion of the maquiladora business; Jason Gaskill in the Pacific Northwest; and George Brody as sales project engineer.