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No. 352, January 1999

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American Companies in Japan


By the spring of 2000, SHIN CATERPILLAR MI-TSUBISHI LTD. expects to be manufacturing hydraulic valves for use in its own earthmoving equipment as well as for supply to CATERPILLAR INC. construction equipment plants in Asia. The factory and a supporting development center will be built at an estimated cost of $17.1 million in Kanagawa prefecture, where Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi makes its small hydraulic excavators. In time, the long- running joint venture between the world's top maker of earthmoving equipment and MI-TSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. could be shipping hydraulic valves to Cat's plants in the United States and in Europe.

Three of HYPERTHERM, INC.'s Powermax air plasma cutting systems are now available in Japan through distributor LLE CO., LTD. of Aichi prefecture. The Hanover, New Hampshire manufacturer's products cut most metals. The portable Powermax350, which costs $1,700, can cut through 1/4-inch thicknesses of steel, while the manual Powermax900 cuts ferrous metals up to 7/8-inch thick; it lists for $3,000. For heavy-duty metal cutting, Hypertherm has the portable Powermax1100; it has a maximum capacity of 1 inch. LLE believes that it can sell 200 Powermax systems a year.

Last year's acquisition of Shelton, Connecticut-based AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY, INC. by EMERSON ELECTRIC CO. through its BRANSON ULTRASONIC CORP. subsidiary in Danbury, Connecticut has given Emerson Electric's local marketing unit a broader range of ultrasonic welding equipment to sell. Its first AmTech ultrasonic welder is being targeted at high-precision fabrication and assembly of lithium batteries and automotive- use electronic parts. At $25,000 to $30,000, the welder is almost twice the cost of a conventional resistance welder, but it not only produces more precise welds but, by eliminating the use of welding materials, also saves some money.

FOX INSTRUMENT AND AIR BEARING, INC., a Livermore, California manufacturer that specializes in precision electromechanics using air-bearing technology, has named JAPAN LASER CORP. of Tokyo to sell its products. These include an ultrasonic ceramic motor, an ultraprecision positioning system and Fox Instrument's mainstay air bearings and air bearing spindles. Because the components are designed to stringent submicron requirements, they are used in wafer steppers, inspection machines, microscopes and a long list of other precision equipment.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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