Want to Get More Out of Your Hydraulic Machines?

By: Matthew H. Naitove 3. January 2017

Get up to 10% more energy efficiency out of a hydraulic press without spending a penny on drive hardware upgrades.


Injection molders today have a daunting range of choices when shopping for the most efficient machine—all-electric, partially electric (hybrid), hydraulic with electric servo or variable-frequency (VFD) pump drive, or plain old-fashioned fully hydraulic. But what if you heard that you could get up to 10% more energy efficiency out of a hydraulic press without spending a penny on drive hardware upgrades?


At last October’s K 2016 show in Dusseldorf, the German chemical company Evonik (U.S. office in Parsippany, N.J.) revealed the results of tests in 2015 on its Dynavis oil-additive technology in a Boy 35-ton and an Engel 120-ton press. Comparisons with standard hydraulic oild showed energy savings of 6% to 10%. Details of the tests are available at


Normally, hydraulic equipment works at optimal efficiency when the oil is within a particular temperature range. Oils formulated with Dynavis technology (which utilizes Evonik’s Viscoplex family of polymer-based viscosity improvers) extend that high-efficiency temperature range.


The modified oils both flow better at low temperatures and remain more viscous at higher temperatures. When such oils are used in injection molding machines, the press reportedly uses less drive energy, and the oil does not get as hot and withstands shearing forces better. Until recently, Dynavis technology has been used mainly in construction equipment. Dynavis technology has been licensed to a number of hydraulic-oil suppliers around the world.


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2. January 2017

Interesting Finalists of 2016 SPE Auto Innovation Awards

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 27. December 2016

Take a look at these “runner-up” finalists in exterior, interior and chassis/hardware categories.


In two recent separate blogs (here and here) highlighting the award winners in nine categories of the 2016 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards, I noted that I would also highlight some of the finalists of certain categories that were particularly exceptional. Here are four such examples from the categories of body exterior, body interior, and chassis/hardware.


Exterior Body: Mold-In-Color (MIC) High-Gloss Body Color TPO Fascia. This component is featured on Ford’s 2017 Transit Connect and involved Advanced Composites’s ADX70004WFA TPO. Injection molded by Magna Exteriors, this MIC TPO fascia underwent rigorous testing to assure the material was resistant to stone pecking and road chemicals and would not change shape when exposed to high heat. Also used was a lens-grade mold with SP1 diamond polish and gating designed to minimize knitlines. The resulting fascia is a high-gloss, weather- and mar-resistant component. Moreover, it is 10% lighter, offers $800,000 annualized savings, and harmonizes with exterior painted components.



Interior Body: Thin-Wall Instrument Panel (IP) Substrate. Appearing on the Ford’s 2017 Lincoln Continental, this component is reportedly the thinnest full-size, deep-draw injection-molded IP in North America at 1.9 mm/0.07 in. A 30% glass-reinforced LFT-PPStamax 30YK270E, from SABIC was used and injection molded by Faurecia Interior Systems.


Compared to the 2.4 mm/0.009 in. microcellular foam-molded benchmark, this design is 14% lighter, saves over $1 in material cost as well as the microcellular-foaming investment, and helps optimize packaging. Moldfilling analysis with fiber orientation was used for accurate warpage predictions and to develop tooling countermeasures to facilitate part molding.



Chassis/Hardware: Rear Differential Cross-Member. This component appears on Daimler AG’s 2016 Mercedes S-Class and is said to be the first application where a nylon/glass composite has been used as a cross-member to support the rear differential and complete the rear cradle of a vehicle. BASF’s Ultramid A3WG10CR, a 50% glass-reinforced nylon 66 was used for the component which was injection molded by ContiTech North America. The material has been optimized for dynamic loads and is controlled with tighter production specs.


By replacing traditional parts in steel or aluminum, the injection-molded glass-reinforced nylon 66 design offers parts integration opportunities, is cost neutral, reduces noise transmission from the driveshaft, and reduces mass 25%, helping improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions.  


Pentagon Plastics Discusses UK Reshoring, Impact of Brexit

By: Heather Caliendo 26. December 2016


Injection molder Pentagon Plastics provides an update on the reshoring movement in the UK and what role Brexit will play going forward.


In 2015, I wrote about how the UK is also experiencing a manufacturing resurgence and focused on Pentagon Plastics (Horsham, West Sussex, UK), a family-run plastics injection molding company, which said that many UK manufacturers that sent products to China now want those same products made in the UK.


So 18 months later, how has this evolved and what will be the impact of Brexit?


Well, Pentagon Plastics says at least thus far it has continued to experience a resurgence in reshoring.


Paul Edwards, managing director, highlights that companies looking to bring their manufacturing back to the UK have faced challenges overseas. For example, customers dealing with inserts that don’t fit UK bolster sets, as well as issues with not owning the complete tool. Such complexity with overseas tooling is putting UK manufacturing back on the map and it’s seen as beneficial to “keep it local”.


“We’ve discussed such issues with a UK electronics company,” Edwards says. “They originally chose an overseas manufacturer due to price and lead time, despite language barriers, inflexibility and late delivery to the approval stage. After a difficult project, approved by the Financial Director against the recommendation of the chief engineer, they have taken a company decision to manufacture all future tools in the UK. This puts another feather in the cap of UK manufacturing.”


Impact of Brexit
Pentagon Plastics says it’s currently difficult to determine the impact it leaving the EU will have on Britain’s reshoring movement. At present, Bangladesh and Pakistan are tipped to become manufacturing forces by the BMI as Far East prices are rising, but there may yet be further growth in UK reshoring, according to Pentagon.


The reason for this is two-fold; the landscape is changing and there is an understanding that customers want more control over the manufacturing process and want to see products transformed from a CAD design to a real functioning part first hand. This means customers need to be within an appropriate travelling distance. Whilst travel always improves, language barriers and cultural differences still exist and can draw customers back to the UK when combined with a comprehensive service, modern equipment and skilled staff.


Secondly, if the UK can gain free access to the single market it can only be a good thing. The EU is the UK’s single most important trading partner for plastic materials and products, and plastics are one of the UK’s top 10 exports as reported by the British Plastics Federation. The UK is however reliant on imports: for example, in 2015 £1.8bn of raw materials were exported to the EU and £3.8bn imported.


Business Investment
The UK manufacturing sector is also experiencing a skills shortage like the one in the U.S. and Pentagon Plastics believes that it “is imperative that existing EU workers remain in the plastics sector. The UK needs to maintain access to international skills in the future, while looking inward at developing home grown staff.” This can be achieved through awareness in schools about the opportunities in manufacturing and investments in training existing staff.


Pentagon Plastics:


If the UK uses Brexit to help develop businesses and invest to support the plastics industry through grants and match funding initiatives, it will allow UK manufacturers to become more competitive on price and lead time, facilitating reshoring opportunities. The Far East and China in particular are  going through change, and we’re in the position to capitalize. To do this we need to sell our services to those placing new work and most importantly, deliver on our promises.


Plastics companies in the UK are working hard to look at investment into plants and equipment; recycling is also high on the agenda.


Paul Edwards adds, “Although price obviously plays a part in being competitive in the UK market, service is just as, if not more, important, giving customers confidence in your ability to supply, be responsive and visible in all key elements. Talking the talk is important but we also have to back it up and achieve the promises we make. Our facilities need to be clean and the work flow fluid through the manufacturing process. In essence, transparency and honesty are key as well as the investment in skills and equipment.”


Pentagon Plastics believes that the future may be bright for UK manufacturing and reshoring, as long as the appropriate investment is made available to companies to ensure their skillsets and assets continue to be competitive and grow in a global sense.


3D-Printed Plastic Molds: K Exhibit Would Make You a Believer

By: Matthew H. Naitove 23. December 2016

Perhaps you have heard that additive manufacturing—a.k.a. 3D printing—can be used to make injection tooling inserts out of plastics—relatively quickly, at relatively low cost, and with little human labor involved.


Perhaps you have been skeptical about the capabilities of those molds. Perhaps you have been told—as I was, by one proponent of 3D-printed plastic tooling, that it could be used for “simple” plastics like PE or PP, and for low-volume prototyping of up to around 50 parts.


If so, you probably would have come away from the recent K 2016 show—as I did—with a very different idea of what can be done with 3D-printed plastic cores and cavities. Stratasys, Eden Prairie, Minn., the leading supplier of 3D printing equipment and materials for this application, devoted its exhibit almost entirely to displays of plastic tooling and parts made from it. The exhibit also featured Stratasys’ new Polyjet J750 printer, which can print up to six different colors or materials at the same time. It does that by dispensing droplets of different colors or materials on top of each other, inkjet style, so they mix before being hardened (crosslinked) by UV light.


What I didn’t realize before this was that the “digital ABS” formulation that is most commonly used for printed plastic tooling is not really ABS, but a blend of acrylate photopolymers whose combined properties mimic those of ABS. Stratasys senior application engineer Gil Robinson, from the firm’s Israeli office, explained something else I hadn’t previously imagined: The “digital ABS” material is formulated during the deposition process by overlaying droplets of two different polymers chosen for heat resistance in one case, and toughness in the other.


The capabilities of this tooling material are best illustrated by what customers are doing with it. According to Robinson, they are running nylon, polycarbonate, acetal, PPE alloys, and PPS—even some glass-filled grades—as long as injection temperatures remain below 300 C (572 F). How many shots you can get depends on the material and the part. Robinson said the printed tooling inserts can last for five to 20 parts in nylon or PC, 50 to 100 parts in polyolefins, and up to 700 to 800 shots in acetal. The more complex the geometry, and the thinner the walls, the shorter the tool life.


Because the plastic molds are poor heat conductors and have no internal cooling, the molding cycle for acetal was 100 sec, and the molds were cooled with air between cycles. Robinson said a university has printed mold inserts with conformal cooling channels and that the results were encouraging.


He said “a few hundred” molders and OEMs worldwide are experimenting with printed plastic tooling. One of them, discussed on the company’s website, is Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos, which used digital ABS molds to mold simple parts of 40% glass-filled PPS and more complex parts of 30% glass filled Noryl PPE alloy. The Noryl parts were made in plastic molds with side actions to mold internal and external threads, as well as many ribs.


Another customer using printed plastic molds for prototyping is Berker, a German electrical switch maker. As reported in the November Starting Up section of Plastics Technology, Berker molded 25 to 50 parts of ASA, PC, and TPE in these molds.


As shown in the accompanying photos, Stratasys showed at K that printed plastic molds can also be used to prototype blow molded bottles and thermoformed shapes. In the case of thermoforming, a different type of Stratasys printer, using the FDM process of extruding and fusing thin plastic filaments, produces a porous mold that needs no drilling of vacuum holes. Other exhibits displayed printed plastic layup tools for vacuum bagging continuous-glass composites. In one case, soluble material was used to print a core for laying up a composite tube with curves and bends. The printed core could be washed out after curing the carbon-fiber/epoxy part.


After that booth visit, I have to say, I’m a believer.


Injection mold insert of Stratasys Digital ABS


3D-printed injection core and cavity for electronic components, made by Robert Seuffer GmbH in Germany.


Printed plastic blow mold for a PET bottle.


FDM-printed tool (left) for thermoformed part (right). The tool is inherently porous, so no vacuum holes are needed.


Back side of FDM-printed thermoforming tool.


Printed plastic layup mold for epoxy/glass-fabric composite.


Printed soluble core for layup for epoxy/carbon-fiber tube. After curing the part, the core is washed out.

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