If a better machine can help your company beat challenging economic conditions, you’ll probably find it at NPE. And finding it will be easier, thanks to our editors’ efforts to sift out of some 2000 exhibits the most significant news in injection and blow molding, extrusion, compounding, and thermoforming.

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JSW will highlight the growing popularity of both all-electric presses and LSR molding with its new model J55AD-30H and J85AD-60H presses outfitted for LSR.

Electric/hydraulic hybrids are another big theme at the show. Haitian will introduce its Jupiter hybrid two-platen series, which are basically hydraulic presses with multiple servo-driven pumps.

New micro-molding machines at NPE include the XS series of compact machines from Boy, offered in horizontal and vertical versions.

Among a host of hot runner developments at the show is Osco’s new recessed gate tip that cuts cost and leaves a better part finish.

Multi-tip hot-runner side-gate nozzles with a linear rather than radial arrangement will debut from at least two suppliers. This is Heitec’s new 12-drop Star Line nozzle, available here from Technoject.

Motoman will present a live demo of its new SDA10 robot featuring two 7-axis arms and a rotating base, for a total of 15 axes.

 There may be somewhat fewer new molding machines on the floor next month than at past NPEs, but as you can see below there are still quite a few new and updated models to consider. At least 12 companies will bring new electric and hybrid presses to the show. A fair number of these “hybrids” are essentially hydraulic machines with the pump driven by a variable-speed electric servomotor. Several new LSR systems will debut, a nod to growing demand in that field, and there will be a new development in large-part molding with MuCell microcellular foam, which has typically been applied to smaller parts.

A larger proportion of the news this year is in hot runners and robots—including nozzles for sensitive biopolymers and lots of new valve gates, as well as robots with up to 15 axes of motion.

 

BUZZ IN ALL-ELECTRICS

With all-electric machines solidly dominating North American sales of presses up to 200 tons, and the price differential having shrunk to 10-15% more than hydraulics in those sizes, it’s no surprise that they will be plentiful at NPE. A number of the new all-electrics are tailored specifically for LIM/LSR (covered in a later section).

Among the new electric entries, Arburg’s new 352-ton Allrounder 720 A will make its first North American appearance in one of several molding cells based on Allrounder Alldrive electric toggle machines. The exhibits will highlight integration of robotic systems in complex production cells via Arburg’s Selogica control.

Absolute Haitian will introduce its German-built 135-ton Zhafir Venus VE 1200 all-electric model. The line is offered from 44 to 461 tons.

KraussMaffei will roll out its new AX series of lower-cost, compact all-electric toggle machines for general-purpose use. The line ranges from 65 to 385 tons and is said to bring up to 60% energy savings versus similar-size hydraulic presses. The platen moves on roller-bearing guides that deliver up to 80% less friction than a sliding support. It also uses KM’s MC5 touch controller. A complete production cell at the show will integrate a KM robot with the press.

Milacron will announce new models in the Powerline NT series, and will also highlight the new Fanuc Roboshot S2000iB series. Hybrid machinery will also be on display.

Niigata (represented here by DJK Global Group) will introduce the MD S-6000 series of electric machines, which were previewed in our March issue. The series features wider tiebar clearances, linear guide bearings for injection and clamping units, and mold safety protection throughout the entire clamp stroke—not just during final closing. New “G Screw” software simplifies setup for different machines using the same screw size by adjusting stroke automatically. Hence, a 40-mm screw behaves exactly the same in the 110-ton as in the 200-ton press, and mold setups can be shared between those machines by swapping a USB memory stick. Other enhancements include a platen parallelism system suited to tight-tolerance and optical-grade applications.

Engel will further enhance the energy savings of a 110-ton e-max electric press by adding NxHeat induction barrel heating from Xaloy as part of a cleanroom-compatible cell for medical pipette tips.

Sumitomo Plastics-Machinery and Demag Plastics Group (DPG) are still going by two separate names in North America, although Sumitomo bought DPG last year. NPE is the first time the two companies are jointly promoting their product lines and service/support capabilities in North America. A Sumitomo all-electric machine will demonstrate the company’s new Z Control system, said to improve injection, clamping, and setup operations, with the aim of reducing part defects and maximizing productivity. The concept may let molders produce larger or harder-to-mold parts on smaller presses with less stress and improved part properties. Meanwhile, DPG will show its El-Exis-S 550 hybrid (606 tons) for packaging.

Toyo (represented here by Maruka USA) will show a 110-tonner in its latest Si-IV series of all-electric presses (35 to 750 tons), which have been offered in the U.S. for about a year. Toyo will also show a vertical all-electric model ET-90VR producing insert molded parts.

Ube will introduce the S-V line of large electric presses. There will be eight models in the line from 720 to 3300 tons. They will feature a faster-responding servo system, ballscrews that require 90% less lubrication, more rigid wide platens that minimize deflection by 60%, and a new linear guide system on the injection unit for reduced friction.

Toshiba will show in-mold labeling (IML) on an all-electric model EC180NII.

 

HIGHLIGHTING HYBRIDS

Hybrid presses are also growing in popularity because they offer an intermediate price and performance point between all-electrics and hydraulics. Arburg will discuss its new Allrounder H (Hidrive) series, which combines accumulator-assisted hydraulic injection with servo-electric screw drive and toggle clamp. It delivers up to 40% energy savings vs. full hydraulics.

Negri Bossi will roll out its Janus series hybrids (176 to 990 tons) featuring direct-drive servo-electric clamping and plasticating, plus a “smart pump” hydraulic system with gas accumulator. Energy usage is said to be similar to its all-electric Canbel line.

Boy Machines will introduce its Boy E hybrid to the North American market. A Boy 90E (99 tons) will demonstrate how an essentially hydraulic machine with a variable-speed, servo-motor pump drive reduces energy consumption by 50%.

Absolute Haitian is also using the servo-pump concept on its new Jupiter series of two-platen machines, being shown in the U.S. for the first time. They will employ multiple electric servo pumps, as do the company’s Mars series hybrid electric toggles, which will also be on display.

Engel will show off one of its new duo pico medium-size two-platen machines with a new ecodrive hybrid option. This duo 550 pico unit will have a servo-driven hydraulic pump and electric screw drive. Engel says the ecodrive system, available on all hydraulic machine lines, trims energy consumption 45% to 60% vs. standard hydraulics while providing integrated hydraulics for core pulls, valve gates, mold-mounting systems and other functions. Even without ecodrive, the duo pico line cuts energy use 25% by supporting platen movements on low-friction linear bearings rather than on the tiebars. The duo model will also be the first to show off the new energy calculator in Engel’s CC200 controls, which helps users choose machine settings that provide the most energy-efficient mode of operation.

Victor Taichung Machinery Works of Taiwan (represented here by Fortune International) is introducing to North America its line of hybrid toggle machines with servo-driven hydraulic pumps, which are said to deliver energy savings up to 60%. This Vs ES Series ranges from 55 to 275 tons with SPI platen configuration. It has a new V-8000C controller and new ion-nitrided screw and barrel, as well as a multi-notch nonreturn valve that reportedly improves reaction times.

Ferromatik Milacron of Germany will introduce its Vitesse line of hybrids. Built for high speed and sized from 220 to 550 tons, they have electric screw drive to permit parallel or overlapping functions. Vitesse is a further development of the Cap-Tec and Cap-Tec XL lines and is said to encompass the complete application range of both lines.

MHI Injection Molding Machinery (Mitsubishi) will have a DVD presentation of its emR series of large hybrids (1600 to 3300 tons) designed for coinjection. They feature an “eco-servo” pump system that reduces energy consumption 60%, direct-drive servo motors on both injection units, a servo-driven horizontal rotary platen, and four-point injection compression control.

Sodick Plustech (distributed by Plustech Inc.) will demonstrate its newest hybrid two-stage machine, the 60-ton LA60 for high-cavitation molding of small parts.

 

MICRO-MOLDING GROWS

Arburg will demonstrate micro-molding on a 17-ton hydraulic Allrounder S producing 0.001-g micro gear wheels in an eight-cavity mold. An Arburg Multilift H robot with two vacuum circuits for the gripper and discharge functions will demold parts.

Boy will roll out its super-compact XS line of machines. The first model, an 11-tonner, has a footprint of less than 9 ft2, shot volume of 8 cc, and tiebar distance of 205 mm diagonal and 160 mm horizontal. Among five of these machines at the show, a Boy XSV model with vertical clamp and injection unit will demonstrate insert molding.

Wittmann Battenfeld is revamping its Microsystem series of machines designed for production of micro components weighing under 0.1 g. Though the current 5-ton, all-electric Microsystem 50 model will be shown at NPE, Wittmann’s new Micro Division will offer two new clamp tonnages, two injection unit sizes, and additional modules.

Sodick Plustech will show micro-molding on its LD-20 EH2 machine, a 20-ton hybrid that has been available for about a year.

 

LSR MOLDING ADVANCES

Indicative of growing interest in liquid silicone rubber (LSR) injection molding, Engel will show a new 110-ton e-max electric press designed for LSR. It has a longer clamp stroke for precise venting and coining applications, and the servo-driven ejector ensures precise speed, pressure, and position control for demolding delicate silicone parts.

JSW is also introducing new electric presses for LSR. Its model J85AD-60H will be on display.

Negri Bossi also will introduce an all-electric press designed for LSR. Its Canbel VE LSR series will be offered in sizes from 55 to 320 metric tons, with shot capacities from 1 to over 16 oz.

Arburg will show a molding cell producing thermoplastic and LSR parts in two all-electric presses and then assembling them automatically. A second automated LSR/thermoplastic application will be presented using a hydraulic press in cooperation with partners Rico and Simtec.

Boy will demonstrate LSR molding with a 38.6-ton Boy 35A model producing finger cots in a four-cavity family mold.

Sodick Plustech will mold LSR on a 40-ton LS40R press, which can inject at rates as low as 0.1 mm/sec. And Toshiba will demonstrate LSR molding on its all-electric EC45NII press with two Toshiba SCARA robots to demold and stack parts.

Nissei will show its new FNX80-9ALM LSR machine that’s fit for cleanroom use. This 88-ton hybrid uses servo-driven X-Pump hydraulic technology. Nissei says the metering control has new features to provide more uniform feeding.

 

SPECIAL APPLICATIONS

Among other specialty molding exhibits, Engel will demonstrate a core-back expansion molding process developed in partnership with Trexel. Using Trexel’s MuCell microcellular process and Celstran long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT) from Ticona, melt with dissolved gas is injected into the mold under pressure, and then the platen is opened precisely to allow part expansion and create a lower-density part with high stiffness. Engel’s 1000-ton duo two-platen machine will produce automotive door panels with this process at the show as an example of microcellular molding moving into larger parts.

MHI Injection Molding Machinery will show a variant of long-fiber molding at the show. A 390ME2-50S machine fitted with a special screw will process long carbon-fiber pellets, demonstrating potential for molding lightweight, high-strength parts such as automotive front-end modules.

Husky will show a new High Performance Package (HPP) for its HyPET preform system that is said to reduce cycle times by 15%. The system is the result of refinements to the entire machine, including mold, robot, injection unit, clamp, and auxiliaries. Husky will also have its newly renamed HyPAC 300 press running a thin-wall in-mold label application in the CBW Automation booth.

Cincinnati Milacron will announce new models in its Magna MTg series of hydraulic toggle presses. The company also will run a coinjection application on a Maxima 310 machine as part of a “green” manufacturing cell that is recycling waste materials into new products. Continuing the “green” theme, Milacron will announce that its energy-saving ServTek TCS infrared barrel-heating technology is now available on small injection units. This technology will be demonstrated on an all-electric Roboshot 165. Milacron’s Servtek unit will highlight the expanded energy-saving potential of its Barr VBET screw together with TCS barrel heating.

Wilmington Machinery will bring a new structural-foam machine dedicated to pallets in terms of shot size, plasticating capacity, and overall output. It has also upgraded its g-p structural-foam systems with a simplified nozzle/manifold system, larger platens, and electric extruder drive.

 

HOT RUNNERS HEAT UP

D-M-E will show its new Eco-Smart line of hot runners designed for processing PLA and other biopolymers. The company will also show its line of two-stage ejectors made for hard-to-eject parts with features such as protrusions and undercuts.

Ewikon will introduce a new direct side-gating nozzle for medical and packaging applications. The new MH Multi-tip Hot Tip Edge Gate Nozzle uses a heat-conductive tip insert to gate directly onto the part surface, which reportedly avoids cold slugs and ensures high-quality gate vestige. The HPS III-MH nozzle is offered in a linear configuration of two, four, and eight tips. It is also offered in a radial version with up to eight gates. Tips are installed from the mold parting line and blank tips can be used to close off cavities.

Ewikon will also show its electric-driven valve gates with stepper motors that allow for valve positioning within 0.01-mm increments and for the gate to move to multiple positions within a molding cycle.

Heitec Hot Runner Systems of Germany (represented here by Technoject) will extend its Star-Line series of nozzles for medical and packaging parts with a new linear multi-tip nozzle. The tip inserts are installed from the parting line of the mold.

Husky will introduce an expanded version of its Pronto series of quick-delivery hot-runner systems, which are now offered with larger and smaller nozzle sizes than before (from 350 to 1000 models), more options in plate sizes and interface positions, and in valve-gate or hot-tip designs.

Husky will also unveil a new plate actuation system that synchronizes valve-gate movements in a multi-cavity system. The new UltraSync system is less bulky than individual valve-gate actuators, which allows closer nozzle spacing. Electric servo or hydraulic actuation is available. With electric actuation, the control can be integrated into Husky’s Altanium temperature controller.

Husky is expanding the range of its Altanium Neo hot-runner temperature controller for smaller applications. It previously covered 1 to 12 zones and now covers 2 to 24 zones. The user interface has been enhanced with improved network connectivity and diagnostics.

Incoe will launch Quick-Flo hot-runner systems for high-cavitation molds running commodity resins—such as for caps, closures, and medical parts. Also new are patented (U.S. 7,413,433) two-piece manifolds that allow for smooth 90° turns in flow channels to improve processing of “difficult” resins like PVC. New AXP nozzle feature simplifies integration of longer nozzles and improves wire management. AXP eliminates the need for additional bore geometry to accommodate cables and makes nozzles easier to install and disassemble.

Mastip will introduce its MJ-09 miniature nozzles for high-cavitation packaging or medical parts. Front-loading heaters, thermocouples, and tips allow easy access.

Mold HotRunner Solutions will introduce its Rheo-Pro CV08 mold-mounted valve-gate sequence controller for stack molds or family tools. It provides time-based control of up to eight pneumatic valve gates. Units to control up to 64 valves are available. The CT05 touchscreen plugs into the controller for hand-held operation. The controller is mounted directly on the mold to minimize setup time, unlike bulky stand-alone valve-sequence controllers with air or hydraulic hoses connecting to the mold.

Manner will show a new series of valve gates for use with abrasive resins, semi-crystalline engineering polymers, or general purpose thermoplastics. Its new Multi Combi Nozzle (MCN) has a standard nozzle body plus custom tips tailored to a specific application. A fine screw-tip thread prevents leakage, while a titanium ring brings less heat transfer.

Melt Design will unveil “failure-resistant” nozzles as well as dynamically balanced hot-runner systems. The company will show PMS temperature controllers, which it now distributes. Melt Design also will introduce internally heated machine nozzles featuring an internal tip thermocouple said to provide very accurate temperature control.

Mold-Masters will launch products and services at NPE tailored for closure, medical, PET, and multi-material molding. The firm will show two-piece brazed manifold technology and what it calls a unique and energy-efficient electric valve gate.

Osco will bring out its Recessed Gate Tip (RGT), which eliminates secondary setup time and cost. The gate mark is below the surface, resulting in a cleaner finish, and the design optimizes gate land and needle relationships.

Thermoplay of Italy, represented by Alba Enterprises, will introduce a hot-runner system for large parts using sequential valve gating. Thermoplay also remodeled its D series nozzle for more flexibility. The nozzle tip assembly, which was integrated into the nozzle body, now screws into the nozzle body core. The nozzle heads have been made thicker to provide more space for the outlet cables, and to increase the number of hot-half injection points obtainable. Thermoplay has also tripled the number of standard lengths available, which now range up to 206 mm for nozzles with a diameter of 18 (a new size), 22, or 30 mm; and up to 256 mm long for a 44-mm diam. nozzle.

Thermoplay will also introduce the Th-m6 hot-runner temperature controller capable of synchronous heating of all zones despite differing thermal inertia. An autoslave feature links a zone to another zone with similar thermal behavior if there is a thermocouple failure.

Yudo will launch its IO series of hot-tip nozzles for engineering resins. They have a diamond-like coating for wear resistance. Yudo will also replace its Bala line of open-tip and valve-gate nozzles with its new WINA system, which cuts heating requirements up to 40%.

 

PICK-AND-PLACE ROBOTS

Dri-Air Industries, a new entrant in the robotics market, will show off the new G line of three-axis servo robots from Sytrama of Italy, for which Dri-Air is now the exclusive distributor for the Americas. These models target presses from 40 to 300 tons. The control enclosure is beam mounted, and programming and control are through a hand-held pendant.

Sepro America will introduce Axess 7, the newest and smallest robot in its line of three-axis servo robots for presses up to 80 tons. The robot is operated by Sepro’s new Touch 2 controller. Sepro will also roll out its Visual 2 controller with 10-in. LCD for its G IV series of five-axis robots.

Waldorf Technik of Germany will show its high-speed robotics and automation systems for medical and packaging products at NPE for the first time. The company is said to be the global leader in modular automation systems for in-mold labeling (IML).

Wittmann Battenfeld will introduce its W710 T and W710 TS high-performance pneumatic robots suited to low height clearances. Depending on the model, the units have a telescoping Y stroke of 800 or 1000 mm and Z stroke of 1500 or 2000 mm. The fixed kick stroke (X axis) prevents collision with other components on the injection machine. Both the T (telescopic arm) and TS (telescopic arm and subarm) use the SA7 controller and feature a pneumatic C-axis with up to 90° rotation.

Ranger Automation will introduce the SA-300 dual-arm side-entry robot for stack molds running as fast as a 4-sec overall cycle. Also new is an in-mold decorating and labeling retrofit kit.

Star Automation will introduce the modular Eins line of 1500 tooling components for its robots.

 

JOINTED-ARM ROBOTS

Motoman, whose dual-arm 13-axis robot was one of the more unusual sights at NPE 2006, will bring the new SDA10 “slim” dual-arm robot with 15 axes for complex machine-tending and part-handling tasks. There are seven axes per arm, plus a single axis for base rotation. It also has a new controller capable of multi-robot control.

ABB will also launch its new IRB 400 six-axis robot designed for assembly, packing, and palletizing. At 880 lb, it is said to be the lightest general-purpose robot on the market. It comes in two short-arm versions with maximum payload of 99 or 132 lb, and two long-arm versions with payload capacity of 44 or 88 lb.

ABB also will unveil new safety software and electronics that reduce the need for extra equipment such as light curtains, safety relays, protective barriers, mechanical stops, or position switches. The new SafeMove system is integrated in the IRC5 controller. It allows the operator and robot to work in closer physical proximity, enabling more compact cells by restricting robot motion to precisely what is needed for a specific operation, instead of relying on inflexible mechanical stops. The robot can still carry large loads and move at high speeds.

Reis will show its new RVL six-axis, beam-mounted “hybrid” robot for injection molding. It handles payloads up to 286 lb.

Fanuc Robotics America will introduce its Paint Mate 200iA mini paint robot, designed to paint small parts.