Thursday, November 1, 2007

Buhler Liquidmetal Partnership

There has been much speculation about a partnership or joint venture between Buhler Group of Uzwil, Switzerland and Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. of Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

One need only analyze the announced partnership of Buhler and the Japan Steel Works to see the direction and form that such a LB partnership would take:

Joint Venture with Japan Steel Works (English Translation)

Joint Venture with Japan Steel Works (German Translation)

Bühler Druckguss AG has announced plans to set up a joint venture with the Japanese Japan Steel Works (JSW) for selling and producing cold-chamber die casting machines.

JSW will enter the die casting business with the Swiss Technology Group Bühler AG as a partner. The venture will start by the signing of a sales and service agreement between the two companies. This will provide the basis for preparing the joint venture, which will then also include production, engineering, and R&D. Cold-chamber die casting machines are predominantly applied for casting aluminum alloys. In the first phase, JSW will provide an appropriate service and maintenance structure and at the same time build a technical center of competence to promote sales of Buhler machines to Japanese customers.

Buhler Diecasting is a leading manufacturer of cold-chamber die casting machines in Europe, North America, and large parts of Asia. The company has broad experience in handling sophisticated projects for its customers from the automotive engineering industry. With this alliance, Buhler intends to push sales of its die casting machines worldwide. It plans to expand its position especially in the Japanese market and with Japanese companies in other countries.

Buhler Diecasting is renowned in the marketplace for its cutting-edge systems for real-time control of die casting machines. In addition, the company has rolled out a series of freshly developed two-platen machines for locking forces above 1000 metric tons. The new machine series was successfully presented to the specialist public at this year’s GIFA trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany.

JSW today holds a significant market share in the area of thixo-casting of magnesium. The Japanese company is therefore convinced that the alliance with Buhler in this business field will enable it to benefit from synergies.

In Japan, the production of die casting machines is increasing as a result of higher car output by Japanese manufacturers inside the country and overseas. Since 2002, growth rates of about 22 percent have been achieved. In 2006, a total of 1160 die casting machines worth 50 billion yen were sold. Of the total of all shipments in 2006, 65 to 70 percent went to factories of domestic or overseas Japanese customers. In order to take advantage of this growth market, Buhler and JSW will enhance the customer service they provide to Japanese users. Therefore, also a Technical Customer Center is to be built at the factory of JSW in Hiroshima. Two complete die casting cells will be installed there in order to create new technical solutions in cooperation with customers. The goal of the alliance is to win a substantial share of the Japanese die casting market within the next three years.

Buhler is a global leader in the supply of process engineering solutions, especially production technologies for making foods and engineering materials. Buhler is present in over 140 countries and employs some 6,600 people. In fiscal 2006, the Group generated sales of CHF 1,613 million.

Uzwil, 25.June 2007

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