Ann Arbor, Mich. — Ube Machinery Inc. showed several all-electric and servo hydraulic injection molding machines at a Sept. 21-22 open house at its North American headquarters and assembly plant in Ann Arbor.
Over the course of two days, the event gathered customers such as Flex-N-Gate Corp. and NYX Inc., members of the media and executives from Nagoya, Japan-based Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd., which is owned by Ube Industries Ltd. in Tokyo. The parent company is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year.
"[Ube] began in the U.S. in the machinery business in 1984 in Michigan, and then as we continued to grow, we went from a small office in Dearborn to a larger facility right up the street," David Bernardi, former senior sales and marketing manager at Ube Machinery Inc., told Plastics News and a group of customers attending the event.
Ube moved into the 47,675-square-foot Ann Arbor facility in 1995 and shipped its first injection molding machine in June 1996, Bernardi added. In 1998, the company expanded its facility to 148,000 square feet. Today, the facility has around 84 employees.
Koji Watanabe, director and general manager of sales for the U.S. operation, estimated that in previous years 60 percent of the sales for Ube's injection molding production business came from North America.
"Most of the automotive customers are buying the machines," he said, adding that the Ube is looking to grow in the North American market.
In January, Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd. completed its acquisition of an 85 percent share of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Plastic Technology Co. Ltd., gaining Mitsubishi's facilities in countries ranging from Germany and India to Brazil and the United States.
Mitsubishi's injection molding machines are now being sold under the name U-MHI Platech Co. Ltd.
"With the acquisition, one of the things it did for us — in addition to gaining tremendous manufacturing space, which we were limited to between Japan and here — was we gained all of Mitsubishi's facilities," Bernardi said.
The acquisition also expanded Ube's product range, enabling the company to build smaller injection molding machines.
"The [global] product range is 55 all-electric to 3,850 all-electric," Bernardi said.
In August 2016, Ube added a parts and service office in Lexington, Ky., its second location in the U.S.