Firm eyes profit in plastic welding

A newly developed tool that could revolutionize the automobile-repair industry is now being manufactured in the Ocean State. More

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Firm eyes profit in plastic welding

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
WORLDS COLLIDE: From left: Carl's Collision Center technician Carlos Rodriguez, owner Carl Garcia and Malcom Technologies President Jonathan Bixby demonstrate Malcom's automotive bumper-repair kit. Carl's is a partner in the venture.
Posted 1/16/12

A newly developed tool that could revolutionize the automobile-repair industry is now being manufactured in the Ocean State.

Malcom Technologies Inc., of Tiverton, has successfully fabricated a way to weld plastic, saving money for both automobile insurers and customers.

Their new bumper-repair kit reinforces cracked plastic so that it can be reused, rather than replacing an entire bumper. The product is expected to reduce waste and improve repair-center profits.

Malcom Technologies is no stranger to the portable welding industry. A distributor of specialty hand tools, they supply hand-held equipment for plastic welding, hand-held extruders, industrial heaters and other tools for the construction industry.

The current company was born in 1989, when owner and Chairman George Bixby bought The Malcom Company from his former employer. At the time, only a small portion of its work was as a distributor for Leister Technologies, a Swedish company specializing in welding and hot-air heating tools. Recognizing the impending demand for hot-air guns and plastic-welding needs, the company evolved into a full-line distributor for Leister products. Working out of their house, George and son, Jonathan, now the company president, eventually distributed and serviced heat guns and portable welders around the country.

In 1998, the company began production of one of its inventions, a battery-powered heat gun that could be used on-site by the military to repair equipment damaged in battle. Now, about half of their business originates from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The new automotive bumper-repair kit features a 1,200-watt gun that provides heat up to 1,150 degrees. It also uses an air flow of 17.5 cubic feet per minute, a wide slot nozzle and a proprietary mesh-and-metal roller. It is designed to be sold to auto-body repair shops.

Carl Garcia, owner of Carl’s Collision Center, in Fall River, is a business partner in the new bumper-repair kit.

“Over the last several years a lot of body shops have gotten away from plastic repairs,” Garcia said. Bumper repairs have become burdensome, with many shops dissatisfied with the chemical reactions and adhesives used in the process. Most shops began replacing the entire bumper and passing the cost on to the consumer rather than consume valuable man-hours for a repair that was problematic at best.

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