Tell us about your background, and how you came to found the company.
I was born in the Czech Republic and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. I then went to work for the European Technical Center of Proctor & Gamble in Brussels, in the liquid packing group. After about three years I applied to Columbia University in New York, where I landed my MBA. From there I joined American Cyanamid, working in the strategic planning group, and I was soon on the fast track to becoming an international manager.
But my wife and I had just had a daughter and bought a house, and when they offered me a position that required relocating I decided the time was right to set out on my own. That’s when I remembered a company I’d worked with in Germany that made plastic components with an integral metal core, and I realized that those properties would be perfect for a wide variety of gears. Based on that concept, I launched the Intech Corporation in 1983.
Describe the properties that make this material work so well for gears.
Thanks to my training and experience I had a real understanding of what manufacturers need, which is dependability in their equipment so they can meet their delivery demands with minimum maintenance and avoid downtime. You don’t want to be going around a packaging line with a grease can after wash down, nor do you want to spend your time waiting for a replacement gear on an assembly line that has failed. You want to be filling the trucks at your loading dock with product. So I set out to provide plastic gears that are dependable, do not require lubrication, and have a predetermined service life.
In fact, in association with a German company and the University of Munich we spent 10 years developing a way to calculate how many hours our gears will function in a wide variety of applications. Our customers were not accustomed to that degree of accuracy in plastic gears—being able to predict hours rather than simply promising extended service life—so we’ve built our reputation on possessing that level of expertise. One reason has to do with our Power-Coretm technology, which integrates a unique self-lubricating material with a metal core. The core provides a secure attachment of the gear to a shaft and is available in stainless steel for highly corrosive environments. Where low inertia is required we use an aluminum core.
The process is also special in the sense that the material is cast rather than being injection molded, or extruded—a complex process that very few sources can provide. The material doesn’t swell, as some plastics do, it exhibits stable physical and dimensional properties, it is free of internal stresses, absorbs shock and vibration and has high impact strength, all factors important in the design of high performance gears.
What markets do you serve, and how do you work with your customers?
Often cooperating with specialty gear manufacturers we offer spur, helical, herringbone, bevel, and worm-wheel gears, among many other related components, and they’re used in a wide variety of industries ranging from packaging, semiconductor, paper converting, food processing to pharmaceuticals, medical applications and, aerospace. As for our relationship with our customers, it builds over time, especially when we exchange notes and discuss solutions that will enhance their design so that the equipment they produce runs better. That’s when we’ll begin working together, providing our engineering skills to develop a design to best meet their goals.
And we’ve found that our customers—which include Alcoa, Bell & Howell, Boeing, GE Medical, Hughes, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Sony, among many others—are very receptive to this, because they want to optimize the equipment they manufacture to provide their own clients with the best product they possibly can.