By Rhoda Miel, Plastics News Staff
Warren, Michigan -- KraussMaffei Corp. already has the technology to help a resurging US auto industry, and on a nondescript strip of industrial buildings on a site collocated with toolmaker Proper Group International Inc., KM also has steadily built a place to show it off.
"It's been a tremendous benefit to both partners," said Paul Caprio, president of Florence, Kentucky-based North American operations for Germany's KraussMaffei AG, in an interview at a 23 May technology seminar in Warren. "We've seen the effect already."
When Munich-based KraussMaffei established a joint venture with Proper two years ago, KM moved its polyurethane tooling operations from Novi, Michigan, to Proper's site in Warren. While KM has created production systems aimed at automakers' needs for a long time, it was important, Caprio said, to bring those offerings directly to carmakers.
Engineers who normally would be most interested in the technology lacked time to travel as the industry ramped up production after the recession. Proper offered a great location - within 40 miles of nearly all North American carmakers' engineering centres - and contacts in the industry.
"There's been a recognition [in the auto industry] that the overall cost of the part is the real need, and not the cost of components," Caprio said.
At the 23 May technical session in Warren - also sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience LLC of Pittsburgh - KraussMaffei showed off systems that take advantage of its capabilities in injection molding, reaction injection molding and extrusion equipment. That includes interior parts with urethane skin, foam and reaction molded substrate all produced from the same system; and coating technology for polycarbonate parts that could allow suppliers to eliminate the need for separate clean room manufacturing.
The hands-on research location will continue to be key as the auto industry expands its interest in production, Caprio said.
"We're dealing with all the [automakers] directly now," he said. "They really want to understand and validate technology in plastics."
The full version of this story is available on our sister publication, Plastics News. "