Victrex plc has diversified into production of gears, a fast growing market for its most prominent polymer, polyetheretherketone.
Victrex acquired Kleiss Gears Inc. for about $6 million in cash, the firm announced July 21.
“This is our first downstream acquisition,” stated spokesman Andrew Hanson in a phone interview from Victrex's headquarters in Thornton Cleveleys, England.
Kleiss Gears, established in 1991, had sales of about $4 million last year and it employs 26. Melanie Kleiss, general manager, will continue in that role while founder Rod Kleiss will act as technical consultant.
Kleiss Gears molds most of its gears from nylon but its usage of PEEK is growing because of the engineering polymer's high resistance to pressure and creep. Besides gears, the company also molds related high-precision parts such as housings, said Melanie Kleiss in a phone interview from her company's head office in Grantsburg, Wis.
“Kleiss Gears offers Victrex the opportunity to accelerate the adoption of our Victrex PEEK gear proposition to meet the needs of the automotive industry and is in line with our aim to double the amount of PEEK volume in cars over the medium term,” noted Victrex CEO David Hummel in a news release.
With Kleiss Gears, Victrex can enhance rapid product development, testing and validation, and precision manufacturing, the British firm predicts. An integrated approach to the market will dramatically cut development cycles, Rod Kleiss added in a news release.
Under Victrex's wing, Kleiss Gears will be able to boost its international presence, Melanie Kleiss said.
“We've been working globally but the acquisition will give us better access to world markets,” she explained.
Kleiss runs 10 injection presses making tight-tolerance parts from about a cubic centimeter in size to about 8 inches in diameter. Victrex focuses on automotive, aerospace, electronics, energy and medical markets, all of which offer lots of PEEK opportunities, Hanson said. The polymer features durability, high performance, light weight and less energy consumption than metal gears. It also cuts noise, vibration and harshness by 50 percent when it replaces metal.
Rod Kleiss said the precision molder has partnered with Victrex for many years. Victrex has a U.S. office in West Conshohocken, Pa.