A jump-on-the-bandwagon mentality seems to have gripped the injection machinery business with respect to the market buzz surrounding “all-electric” machines. In researching our K 2001 preview, Senior Editor Mikell Knights found that more machine builders than ever are bringing out all-electric models—even some suppliers that previously resisted the trend. Their doubts may have faded in light of worldwide market forecasts that 30% of machine purchases up to 440 tons will be all-electric by 2003.
Mikell discovered the buzz is so strong that some suppliers want you to believe that anything you have to plug into an outlet is an “electric” machine. In fact, some models being touted as electric, all-electric, or fully electric would flunk a truth-in-labeling test. They are really hybrids of electric and hydraulic drives. There may be no telltale hydraulic hoses on view, but a number of these hybrid machines hide a small, self-contained hydraulic cylinder within the clamp system.
The funny thing is that there is no shame in having a hybrid machine, so why disguise it? Some machine builders have argued that up to 70% of the energy consumed by a molding machine is for plasticating. So if you put an electric screw drive on a machine, you have achieved most of the savings possible at a lower cost than going all-electric. Some say it is especially true for small presses. Granted, energy savings aren’t the only argument for going all-electric. Nonetheless, there may be good reasons why all-electrics may not be the answer for all molding jobs. What the market really needs is to find out where all-electrics perform best and, perhaps, where they don’t.