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Shape Charts Its Future with New Aluminum Center of Excellence

Shape Corp., a global tier-one automotive supplier, recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Aluminum Center of Excellence to be located in Trenton, OH (Figure 1). The 322,000 sq ft facility will allow the company to expand its manufacturing capacity for the production of tight tolerance aluminum extrusions and assemblies, while also providing research and development capabilities supporting automotive and other demanding industries. In addition, the new center is expected to create more than 170 new jobs in the area. “Building the Aluminum Center of Excellence allows us to take the critical next step in Shape’s growth journey,” said Mark White, president and CEO of Shape.

Figure 1. Shape Corp. held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Aluminum Center of Excellence.

Company Growth

Since its founding in 1974, Shape Corp. has grown into a global leader in the manufacturing of multi-material impact energy management and lightweight body structures that utilize tight tolerance aluminum extrusions, ultra-high-strength steel roll forming, and large-tonnage injection molding. The privately owned family company operates 17 facilities worldwide, allowing Shape to serve an array of industries, including automotive, office furniture, medical, agriculture, and more.

The company focuses on advanced engineering and processes to develop value-added aluminum solutions. Through the utilization of high level engineering, advanced aluminum alloys, and expert extrusion die design, Shape is able to meet strict mass, performance and cost requirements found in many of today’s automotive body structure components. In addition, the company offers fabrication and finishing services, including 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis CNC machining, cutting, punching, vibe and brush deburr, wash, assembly, laser weld, automation, and sub-assembly.

Over the years, Shape has continued to heavily invest in its global footprint. This includes expanding its capabilities in aluminum extrusions and assemblies, such as the acquisition of Magnode, a fully integrated supplier of aluminum extrusions located in Trenton, in 2018. Magnode has more than 70 years of experience in the aluminum extrusion industry and was an ideal match with Shape’s expansion plans. Now integrated under one operating model, the combined company is leveraging its diverse engineering expertise to provide customers with the complex aluminum solutions they seek.

“Magnode complements us as a multi-material solutions provider in impact energy management and body structures,” said White. “Having strong aluminum capabilities in our portfolio helps Shape grow worldwide and we look to scale it as such.”

Center of Excellence

To be located at the Trenton site (acquired from Magnode), the Aluminum Center of Excellence will include the development of new manufacturing and office space (Figure 2). Building on Shape’s already existing proficiencies in aluminum, the expansion will include the addition of two new extrusion presses — a 5,500 ton and a 4,000 ton press. These two new lines will be added to the sites existing manufacturing capacity, which includes a 5,000 ton press and a 3,500 ton press. This new capacity will enable the site to extrude a multitude of profile sizes with precise, tight tolerances to meet challenging requirements of the automotive industry.

In addition to added manufacturing, the Trenton facility will incorporate an onsite tech center that will specialize in the research and development of aluminum alloys and product types in order to provide unique solutions to its customer base.

Figure 2. Digital rendering of the planned new Aluminum Center of Excellence, which will include manufacturing and office space.
Figure 2. Digital rendering of the planned new Aluminum Center of Excellence, which will include manufacturing and office space.

“For us to compete against the larger aluminum suppliers in the industry, we had to differentiate ourselves and develop a set of unique capabilities,” explains Mark Butterfield, managing director of Shape’s Aluminum Division. “What I’m most excited about regarding the new Aluminum Center of Excellence is what it represents, including our capabilities as an organization, the growth we see in aluminum, and the team we pulled together. It also charts where we are going as a company in the future.”

Construction of the Aluminum Center of Excellence will continue through the end of 2021. Phase one of the expansion is expected to be completed in 2022.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of Light Metal Age. To receive the current issue, please subscribe.

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