Extreme Tool & Engineering of Wakefield, Mich., this year invested $1.5 million in new equipment and facilities.
The mold maker and injection molder most recently added a new 5-axis machining center, helping to increase throughput of hard-milled components. Manufactured in Japan, the Yasda YMC 430 Micro Center with RT10 5-Axis turntable is one of only three such machines currently installed in North America, the company said.
Extreme Tool also added a laser engraver, milling machine, computer numerically controlled lathe and two robots, and made improvements to facility efficiency.
The additions were driven by strong sales, along with growth in the business' molding and validation segments, President Mike Zacharias told Plastics News.
“We're seeing about a 20 percent increase [in sales] and extremely good business opportunities and just felt like it was a good time to invest in our future,” Zacharias said. “… Our sales are pretty diverse between medical, packaging and automotive, and all three industry segments seem to be strong, from what we've seen.”
Extreme Tool expects $15 million in sales this year, including tooling, molding and validation, he said. The company is also placing more emphasis on improving efficiency and implementing lean manufacturing practices. A recent 2,500-square-foot expansion created room to reorganize and improve workflow, which remains an ongoing process at the 17-year-old company.
“Now we're really looking at, instead of wholesale capacity improvements, just looking at ways to run more efficiently, do things more accurately, so I'd say it's more a result of the business maturing and where we are as a company,” Zacharias said.
Extreme Tool currently employs 90 at its 35,000-square-foot plant, with no large staff increases planned for the immediate future, Zacharias said. The company ranks 45th on Plastics News' latest mold making rankings, with 2014 sales of $10.7 million.
“Really it's more about employing robotics and technologies to do more with the same amount of people,” he said.