Industrial blow molder Agri-Industrial Plastics Co. is adding a new six-layer, continuous coextrusion blow molding machine to its fleet, which now includes eight multilayer coextrusion machines specifically for nonautomotive fuel tank production and 20 monolayer accumulator-head industrial blow molding machines.
The new machine is a KBSmart120, which manufactures low-permeability multilayer gas tanks with a single clamp and robotic parison transfer to improve production efficiencies. This is the third KBSmart120 machine from Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH for the company. Other models include KB240 and KBSmart61 machines.
Kautex KBSmart machines are designed to produce plastic fuel containers up to 40 liters.
Fairfield, Iowa-based AIP is a custom industrial blow molder of large-scale parts, including nonautomotive fuel tanks for the recreational equipment, lawn and garden, and agricultural industries. AIP produces around 1 million fuel tanks each year.
The machines are assembled in Germany, tested to ensure they meet the company's standards prior to shipment, then unassembled and shipped to AIP, where the team puts them back together. The added machine was ordered in early 2019 and arrived in the fall. It is planned to go into production in late summer or early fall, said Geoff Ward, AIP engineering director.
"The decision to expand our coextrusion multilayer blow molding capacity was all about meeting the growing demand of our customers — both existing and new," President Lori Schaefer-Weaton said in a news release. "With a lead time of approximately one year, we must forecast the market potential well in advance."
Not forecast was the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted AIP through decreased orders and several customers shutting down. But AIP never shut down.
"It's hard when you're ready to get a machine up and going and volumes are decreasing due to some unforeseeable thing like a recession or obviously a global pandemic. However, we are very optimistic about our customers coming back and coming back strong within the next 12 months," Schaefer-Weaton said in a follow-up telephone interview with Plastics News. "We still feel like this [new machine] was a very wise investment, and we will be ready to support all of their requirements and also be well-equipped to take on additional customers and new business. We do feel good about this market and our continued investment in this arena."