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Tight-Tolerance Molder Dips Toe in Extrusion Waters

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Custom molder Midwest Precision Molding (MPM) is getting into extrusion. The processor, which runs 40-plus presses in a 65,000-square-foot plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, specializes in molding small, difficult tight-tolerance parts such as gears and bobbins. It recently added an extrusion line for tubing from Bausano of Italy to supply an existing customer that was having difficulties with its current supplier.

 

Custom molder MPM added extrusion capacity to make PP tubing to be used in a catheter for pigs. Above a tech from machinery supplier Bausano inspects the parts during a trial in Italy. Source (all images): Bausano

“This particular customer was having issues with getting extruded tubing from its various sources in China and Europe, and asked us if we’d be able to manufacture it for them,” says Kyle Ketterhagen, MPM’s director of sales and marketing. “So, we went to the PTXPO trade show (produced by Plastics Technology and parent company Gardner Business Media) in 2022 and met with the Bausano team at their booth.” Since then, MPM has worked closely with Lawrence Gooding of Plastics Processing Solutions, Bausano’s Midwest sales representative, throughout this project.

 

Midwest Precision Molding President Patrick Austin traveled to Bausano’s plant in Italy to inspect his company’s first extrusion line before it was shipped to Wisconsin. On the left is Clemente Bausano, vice president of the company that bears his name.

The customer, Reproductive Provisions LLC, Walworth, Wisconsin, is a manufacturer and distributor of breeding equipment and supplies for livestock and companion animals. MPM will be extruding a medical tube used as part of a pig catheter, as well as other tubes for similar applications. MPM had been providing the molded components for this product. “In this customer’s business, delivering products made in the U.S. is very important, so this was the perfect opportunity for MPM to help supply the customer with quality parts made in the USA,” Ketterhagen says.

 

Bausano supplied the entire system as a turnkey solution. It is centered around the Italian machine builder’s Type E-GO 60/30 series, a 60-mm single-screw extruder with a 30:1 L/D ratio. Bausano provided tooling as well as downstream cooling/sizing, pulling and cutting technology.

 

The proximity of the customer to MPM’s facility offers a number of benefits. The customer no longer has to worry about shipping costs, storage or lead times as it is only a few miles away from where the product is being produced.

 

MPM had to make room at its plant to accommodate the lengthy extrusion line it purchased to make PP tubing.

Ketterhagen notes that MPM already employs a technician who is familiar with extrusion, so there is no need to add additional personnel for this venture. The extrusion line will have more capacity than required by Reproductive Provisions. Ketterhagen notes MPM’s other core customers of molded parts currently buy extruded parts as well, and might find the opportunity to consolidate suppliers appealing. He also points to a demand in the area for a local supplier of extruded parts and notes a growing trend of reshoring manufacturing the U.S.

Adds Ketterhagen, “We have what I would call a dynamic management team. So, when a customer inquires about producing something that we may not currently have the necessary equipment required, we assess the opportunity. If the opportunity is such that it requires an investment and it makes sense for us financially, we have no problem moving quickly and acquiring the necessary equipment. Our organization is small enough to be able to make decisions quickly and move forward without a bunch of approvals.”

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