Updated — You might think being a spinoff of Foxconn Technology Group, one of the world's largest contract manufacturing companies and a key supplier to consumer electronics giants like Apple, would give a new plastics company a big leg up in the market.
But it hasn't worked out that way for Foxnum Technology Co. Ltd. — at least not yet.
The small, Taiwan-based subsidiary of Foxconn debuted its injection molding machines for sale in 2014.
In an Aug. 13 interview at the Taipei Plas trade show, the company said that while it's experiencing problems common to many startups in a very competitive industry, it's happy with its progress and is growing in a “step by step” fashion.
“It is difficult in the beginning stages,” said Dustin Chang, senior deputy manager in Foxnum's global sales division.
“We are the new company for this market and the customer is wondering about your reputation and your experience,” he said. “So there is some difficulty to explain to the customer, even though the customer knows our mother company Foxconn.”
Foxnum launched public sales of its own all-electric injection molding machines at the previous Taipei Plas show, in 2014, after spending several years making the machines in-house for its parent company.
Foxconn relied on Foxnum to supply machines when it could not buy equipment quickly enough from outside suppliers, Foxnum executives said.
Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Group, has an estimated 10,000 injection machines in its factories worldwide, where it churns out mobile phones and electronics for global brand owners.
Foxnum has capacity to make about 120 injection machines a year at its headquarters and factory in Taichung, Taiwan.
After the Aug. 13 interview, Chang clarified in an email that the company has capacity to make another 500 injection presses a year in a factory in mainland China, giving it capacity to produce machines to different customer specifications.
Chang was vague on expansion plans, saying that Foxnum would like build another factory and expand capacity, but it has no firm plans. It hopes to move ahead within two years, he said.
Foxnum will exhibit for the first time at the K show in Germany, the world's largest plastics fair, in October. That will be its first major show outside Asia, and an attempt to crack the global market and expand into other end markets, like automotive and food packaging.
As well, the company has expanded its product offerings. At the Taipei fair, it was showing a two-color molding machine, and a new model for high-precision molding of optical lenses for mobile phone cameras.
It wants to leverage the manufacturing experience of its parent to build that kind of highly precise molding machine and grow, Chang said.
Being part of Foxconn gives the company a potential advantage over many other injection machine makers, he said — it can acquire key components like servo motors and controllers internally from Foxconn, rather than having to buy them from outside suppliers.
“We know in this market there are only a few [injection molding] machine makers who can do these kinds of things,” Chang said. “All the controllers and servo motors and drivers are done by ourselves. This is a really special and unique feature.”
Still, it seems that Foxnum is having to chart its course independently from its parent company. For example, there's no hint of large capital infusion for expansion from Foxconn, which has 1.3 million employees and sales of more than $130 billion.
“Regarding the mother company, they wish that we just go out independently,” he said. “Then we can grow up by ourselves, and we can have a good market ourselves.”