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A $9 million fire-breathing dragon

Members of the Mercury management team as well as city and union officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting.

Mercury Marine cut the ribbon on a new 23,500-sq. ft. expansion to its diecast facility in Plant 17 at its headquarters in Fond du Lac, Wis. City officials, representatives of Mercury’s union and media members visiting for the engine-maker’s 80 anniversary were all on hand.

Mercury president Chris Drees

Mercury president Chris Drees

The expansion represents a $9 million investment for the engine maker, according to Mercury Marine President Chris Drees, who led the ceremony. “The die weighs more than 100,000 pounds and is more than 16 feet across, with more than 550 individual components,” said Drees at the event. “It takes just 100 milliseconds, or about the third of a blink of an eye, to fill the die with the raw materials for our engine blocks, so you can imagine the complexity of the tool as well as the incredible amount of pressure it takes to make an engine block.”

Mercury hopes to have the new diecast machine up and running by the end of the summer.

Mercury hopes to have the new diecast machine up and running by the end of the summer.

The new machine will be used to create Mercury’s V-8 engines, which have exceeded sales projections. The machines are fully automated, with three to four robots in each die-casting cell. The robots complete the metal pouring, die lube spraying, liner insertion and part extraction. “The cells will include automated sawing and part making that will allow traceability across the supply chain,” said a Mercury statement.

Drees noted that Mercury has spent more than $1.14 billion for expansion and R&D since 2008. He said that the tooling will be operational by the end of the summer.  

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