Technical wizards in extrusion
Some unseen and unassuming parts of your car can be technological marvels. Such is the interface between glass and the car body. This niche market is becoming highly technical and quite competitive.At...
Some unseen and unassuming parts of your car can be technological marvels. Such is the interface between glass and the car body. This niche market is becoming highly technical and quite competitive.
At the forefront of the competition is Rehau Industries Inc. The multi-national based in Germany has an extrusion facility in Baie d’Urf, Que. that produces innovative, leading edge extruded profiles.
“We used to extrude pieces separately, and then assemble,” explains Terry Barnaby, plant manager. “The first improvement was co-extrusion of the rigid and soft materials.
“Now we do variable extrusion, in which the cross-section of the profile changes during the course of the extrusion. For example, the gap for the water channel in a windshield molding can get wider and narrower as the piece is extruded.”
The variable cross-section technology was developed by Rehau in Germany, based on technology licensed from a Japanese company.
In addition to automotive parts, the Baie d’Urf plant also has a diversified products division which produces custom extrusions, mostly for the furniture industry. Barnaby notes that Rehau’s automotive experience is becoming a selling point in the furniture industry.
“Furniture manufacturers are starting to demand the same quality levels as automotive. We have an advantage because we already operate at that level.”
He says the company is emphasizing hollow profiles for the furniture industry, as a way to reduce weight and costs.
A WORLDWIDE NETWORK
Taking into account its global resources, Rehau shows a good deal of vertical integration. The North American headquarters in Leesburg, VA is the site for research and development, product design and formulation of compounds. A tool and die operation in Vermont provides dies for Baie d’Urf.
Across the street from the Baie d’Urf extrusion plant is Rehau’s compounding facility, and a finishing facility for the extrusions, which performs bending, shaping and shipping functions.
Rehau has 39 manufacturing plants worldwide, manufacturing over 40,000 components. In Canada, the company also operates an extrusion plant in Prescott, Ont. for pipe and window profiles, and another in Winnipeg for window profiles.
Not only an extruder, Rehau opened an injection molding facility in Cullman, AL in 1994 to supply Mercedes-Benz’s nearby auto assembly facility. The Mercedes-Benz project requires close supervision and just-in-time delivery of complete systems from its Tier 1 suppliers. CPL