Interplas 99 in Birmingham held news in injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, RIM, and recycling.

Although it comes between the giant "K" and NPE shows, and just one month before the Fakuma fair in Germany, Interplas 99 in Birmingham, England, presented a fair amount of new machinery of interest to North American molders and extruders. There were new developments in all-electric, hybrid, and conventional hydraulic injection machines. Micro molding, gas assist, and multi-material molding were particular highlights at the show.

Extrusion introductions included blown-film lines from Finland, and other developments for pipe, profiles, and tubing. Reported below are also a handful of intriguing developments for blow molding, polyurethane RIM, and recycling. Several of these entries, and some development projects hinted at here, are slated to appear at NPE 2000 next June.

Bring on the electricity

The first Italian all-electric injection machine is the 132-ton Eledrive 120 from Bodini Presse s.r.l. (no U.S. representative). Software upgrades make this commercial model 25% faster than the prototype that was at the K'98 show in Germany. The machine has been in production for six months, and 12 presses have been delivered. Bodini is now building the first 27.5-, 66-, and 165-ton models. "The main advantage is accuracy of 0.01 mm on every movement versus 0.1-0.5 mm for hydraulic presses," says Dr. Raffaele Bodini. He also says the all-electric is faster: "An all-electric machine takes 40 milliseconds from zero to maximum speed, versus 200 milliseconds for conventional hydraulics."

Demag Ergotech extended both ends of the size range of its Ergotech EL-EXIS hybrid electric/hydraulic machines. A 220-ton prototype debuted at K'98, followed by a 165-tonner. Now there are also 110- and 275-tonners. These machines all have hydraulic clamping and injection but save energy by driving the pumps with variable-speed AC servo motors. The pumps actually stand idle when oil flow is not required. An electric screw drive is available on high-speed versions.

In other injection news, Arburg launched its largest hydraulic-clamp press ever--not at Interplas, but one month later at the Fakuma show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The 275-ton Allrounder 630S has 630 mm x 630 mm between tiebars.

At the opposite extreme, Arburg also showed a new small press for micromolding precision parts. The Allrounder 220S 150-35 has a 15-ton clamp and max. shot weight of 12 g. Arburg also showed its first three-color coinjection press.

In thin-wall packaging machines, Stork Plastics Machinery B.V. of the Netherlands has no U.S. representative but says it has "cracked the U.S. market" for the first time with its new high-speed toggle machine, Model SXS-250. It has a 220-ton clamp, parallel hydraulic pumps, 275-g shot size, and platen area of 425 mm square. The prototype was introduced at K'98, and six machines were delivered three months ago to a U.S. firm making tubs.

Hot-runner novelty

Ettlinger of Germany (no U.S. rep) showed a novel solution for precise injection of micro parts. Its machine-integrated hot-runner valve-gate nozzle has an injection plunger inside it. The nozzle is directly in line with the screw, which does not reciprocate. The result is a low-cost two-stage injection system that delivers small shots very exactly. At Interplas, Ettlinger presented the newest generation of this patented Direct Injection Molding (D-I-M) technology with a 10-ton machine with two injection units and a rotating mold table. At the show, this machine (which received the Exhibition Innovation Award) molded 0.06 g of clear nylon 12 together with 1 g of white nylon 12.

Fast Heat Inc., Elmhurst, Ill., introduced a new series of hot sprue bushings with replaceable heater elements in place of its usual integral heaters. The new Precision LV (large-volume) series uses a coil heater and comes in three flow-channel sizes (0.250, 0.375, and 0.625 in.) with interchangeable tips.

Latest in gas-assist

Gas-assisted injection molding news at Interplas includes the Unilog B4 AC touchscreen controller for the Airmould process from Battenfeld. This caster-mounted controller provides graphic display of both set and actual gas pressures in real time.

Also, the External Gas Molding process of Gas Injection Ltd. in the U.K. is now represented here by Incoe Corp., Troy, Mich. This process injects gas between the part and the mold to prevent sinks, mold with lower clamp tonnage, and even eject parts. Incoe plans to build EGM equipment in the U.S. in time for NPE 2000.

Mini-molding polyurethane

Bayer's Hennecke Div. introduced a small mixhead, Model MT-5, which delivers 6 to 50 cc/sec to mold parts as small as 2 g. The first commercial application will be gearshift knobs.

Finnish extrusion debut

For Elecster Oyj, a 30-year old Finnish maker of blown film lines, dies, and downstream packaging machines in Toijala, Finland, Interplas was a big debut. Elecster previously exhibited only at regional shows in Scandinavia and Baltic Rim countries. Elecster (which is looking for U.S. and U.K. reps) just delivered its first North American line to a Canadian dairy. It has an 18-in. die for making film that is sterilized in-line with forming and filling of stand-up pouches.

Paul Kiefel Extrusionstechnik GmbH in Germany showed a new side-fed blown-film die with binary division into a regular low-pressure spiral mandrel. In a 225-mm diam. size, the side-fed die is approx. 200 mm shorter than a conventional die. The result is less residence time and better gauge control, Kiefel says.

Kiefel also introduced its new Pro-Con air ring with a "hurricane" housing to increase air flow. Also new is a 10.4-in.-sq color touchscreen control panel from Siemens.

Davis-Standard Corp. showed a screw with a new high-output metering section for the first time. It has a semicircular channel cut into the top of a barrier flight in order to increase output in the metering section. It's so effective in boosting throughput that it reportedly requires a grooved feed throat to keep it fed with material. Davis-Standard showed it on a new 3-in., 30:1 single-screw pipe extruder, model DS 75 GF (grooved feed), which can make 400-mm HDPE pipe at 1000 lb/hr.

Luigi Bandera of Italy (no U.S. rep) showed a new single-screw pipe extruder, Model TR-AFT-H (high-output) that has a water-cooled grooved feed throat with semicircular grooves. It is said to provide higher feed rates than conventional straight-walled grooves. The 32:1 extruder has patented energy-efficient ceramic heaters with brass heat-transfer elements.

Unicor GmbH of Germany launched the new model UC 15V/105V pipe corrugator with a special die head for tubing as small as 3 mm I.D. It's Unicor's smallest to date.

Moving downstream, Boston Matthews of the U.K. showed the first servo-driven profile saw in which the saw itself is servo controlled, not a moving table. In this all-electric saw, even clamping is electric, not pneumatic.

Blow molding news

Magic spa of Italy, which builds extrusion-blow and injection stretch-blow molding machines, is now developing its first separate PET preform injection molding machine. Planned launch will be at NPE 2000. "The next likely step after that will be a reheat stretch-blow machine," says a company official.

Blow Moulding Controls Ltd. of the U.K. showed what it says is the first integrated system for weighing and leak testing bottles off line. The company has built a half dozen of these systems, launched just before the show.

Recycling nonwovens

The main action in scrap recycling at Interplas was aimed at PP nonwovens, which are said to be challenging to reprocess because of their super-high-flow polyolefins (up to 2000 MI or more). One of those tackling this challenge was Munchy Ltd. in the U.K. (represented here by Action Industries). Its new AquaSlide line for reclaiming diaper nonwovens consists of a size-reduction stage, dual-diameter extruder, screenchanger, melt pump, strand die, water slide, and strand cutter. (Incidentally, Munchy has borrowed some technology from this system to develop its first recycling line for PET bottle scrap and is looking for a development partner to test it commercially.)

Starlinger in Austria (which is looking for a U.S. rep) has a new processing line for clean industrial nonwoven scrap. Starlinger also has a new "intrusion" process for making lumber and other profiles from heavily contaminated mixed waste. The Intrumat system extrudes them without a die into molds.

Recyclers may also be interested in a new Eriez Magnetics metal-detection system using pulse induction that's reportedly immune to dampness. Damp flake throws off conventional metal detectors using RF frequency transmission. Pulse induction applies electricity on and off at regular intervals using an induction coil, then measures the decay curve of the induced eddy current. Other firms, primarily in Europe, make metal detectors using pulsed induction, mainly for hunting land mines.