Guardian Automotive has invested $18.2 million in a new paint line and a larger press at its Morehead, Ky. plant.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company added a 3,000 ton Milacron injection molding press as part of the 68,000-square-foot expansion at Morehead.
The project allows the company to mold larger exterior body parts, while the high-gloss paint line will permit it to coat a wider variety of plastics, said Vice President John Sienkiewicz.
Previously, the largest of the company's 33 presses was 2,200 tons, Sienkiewicz said.
The equipment allows Guardian to make large pieces such as bumper fascias and commercial truck grilles.
The paint system includes 10 robots and computer controls and can handle either low- or high-temperature baking capabilities, opening the door to finish thermoplastic polyolefin body parts in addition to the ABS and polycarbonate/ABS that Guardian previously painted.
'This will get us into the larger parts,' he said.
'We're trying to do complete exterior systems.'
The division is looking to leverage its body-panel expertise along with parent company Guardian Industries Corp.'s glass-system work, eventually to turn out complete body panels for automakers.
The companies have the capability to make rear doors for sport-utilities, which would go to assembly plants painted and with windows installed, sealed and ready for workers to pop into place, Sienkiewicz said.
Addition of the 3,000-ton press has allowed Guardian to tap into business for commercial tractor-trailer trucks.
The plant has room for six more presses on the shop floor, eventually bringing the total at Morehead up to 40, Sienkiewicz said.