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Slideshow: Chinaplas 2015 In Pictures

By: Tony Deligio 9. June 2015

From robots and flowers to massive crowds and May showers, check out Chinaplas 2015 in pictures

Fibers Pair With Foam for High-Bending Stiffness at Low Surface Weight

By: Tony Deligio 2. June 2015

Marcel Holzner, research engineer at the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research at Western University in London, Ont. will address those benefits and offer more details on the promising technology during a presentation at Molding 2015 (June 16-18, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Ill.).

 

In foam injection molding, a blowing agent is added to the melt during plastification, causing the material to expand due to a pressure drop during injection, according to Holzner. In addition to the previously mentioned benefits, the process also reportedly reduces part density while imparting high specific bending stiffness. When fiber-reinforced materials are used, Holzner notes that the reduced melt viscosity of gas-loaded thermoplastics leads to fiber preservation, adding that when it comes to preserving fibers, ultimately there are many parameters that influence fiber length.

 

The technology applies what’s called a “breathing mold,” which Holzner explains is synonymous with technologies like core back injection molding, negative embossing, foaming with decompression and precision mold opening. “With this foaming technique—a high-pressure process—the cavity is filled completely,” Holzner explains. “After a short packing pressure and delay time, the mold opening stroke can be launched to a defined part thickness. Additional venting is not necessary but molding techniques like gas counter pressure injection can assist to improve surface quality of foamed parts.”

 

The process differs from structural foam molding in that with structural foam molding, continuous fibers and polymer are utilized, with plasticizing and injection as discrete process steps that require an extruder, melt buffer and injection unit. In foam injection molding (FIM), long fiber granulates are used as feed material.

 

At the Fraunhofer Project Centre, the researchers have two different injection units available for testing: standard and MuCell. Holzner says that to achieve long fiber integral foams, LFT granulates can be used in combination with chemical (masterbatch) or physical blowing agents (MuCell super critical fluid). “The use of long fiber optimized screws maintains the use of LFT granulates and the low shear screw design preserve fiber length,” Holzner says. For FIM, precompounded long-fiber pellets with fiber lengths up to 12 mm are used

 

The integral foam structure, featuring a compact skin layers and foamed core, is promising for automotive applications like door panels, seat shells, underbody assemblies and instrument panel support thanks to the resulting high bending stiffness at low surface weight.

 

In terms of surface finish, Holzner says FIM parts exhibit reduced warpage and sink marks, but they can show flow marks. To overcome this, the researchers noted that gas counter pressure could be applied. The appeal to automotive is the combination of lower weight and strength. “With breathing mold technology, up to 20% to 30% further light weighting is considered realistic,” Holzner says. “Keywords are density reduction and thin wall injection molding.”

 

To learn more about Molding 2015, visit the event’s website where you can view the full agenda and register.

China Serves Up Stiff Competition in Table Tennis and Plastics Machinery

By: Tony Deligio 27. May 2015

Billed as a live-action personification of energy efficiency, a table tennis match between Germany’s professional ping ponger, Timo Boll, and two up-and-coming Chinese youth players more closely reflected the shrinking gap between the two country’s plastics machinery sectors. (Check out a slide show of the action).
 

Staged by the VDMA, Germany’s machinery association, and Adsale, organizer of Chinaplas 2015 in Guangzhou, the exhibition pitted 34-year-old German national Timo Boll, currently placed 7th in ITTF World Rankings, against two rising youth stars in Chinese table tennis, ages nine and 12.
 

Boll, the world’s No. 1 player as recently as 2011, towered over his youthful competition in size and game, and was certainly energy efficient in his play, dispatching the boys 11-2 and 11-3 in action that took less than 10 minutes, including warmups.
 

In game play, the Chinese youth showed flashes against the German veteran, with brief, albeit early leads, impressing Boll in the process. Of the 9-yr-old, Boll, who started playing at age 4 coached by his father, said the youngster’s skills were ahead of his own at the same age, with the potential to keep improving.
 

“He has the motivation, he will practice,” Boll said. “He’s still a little small and a bit nervous, but I think he’s a player who will practice hard and wants to be a good player, and I wish him luck.” Of the 12-yr-old, who dueled Boll to several lengthy rallies, the Germany professional spoke highly of his technique and aggression.
 

At the show, machinery executives also acknowledged the rising credibility of China’s game on the machinery front. In a sector that continues to grow, Chinese equipment makers’ share of the domestic market has risen every year since 2008, jumping from 49% in 2008 to 78% of the total “plastics machines” consumed in China in 2014, according to CPMIA.
 

Despite declines in 2012 and 2013, overall exports of Chinese made equipment have risen from nearly $1.12 billion in 2010 to just over $1.45 billion RMB in 2014, according to the CPMIA.
 

A key component for growth at China-based injection molding machine maker Haitian, which had record revenues ($1.21 billion) and gross profits ($395 million) last year according to Chief Strategic Officer Helmar Franz, was derived from record exports, which were up 13.1% in 2014 fiscal year to $375 million.
 

At the show, Ralf Pampus, director of strategic sales for Reifenhäuser’s blown film division and managing director for the company in China, acknowledged China’s rise as a rival to Germany. “The competition against local machine manufacturers is challenging,” Pampus said, acknowledging that firms like his can still differentiate but also noting that Chinese machine makers continue to improve.
 

The day before the match VDMA held a press conference to promote its Blue Competence energy efficiency push, featuring leading figures from top German firms. One of those, Karlheinz Bourdon, senior VP technologies at KraussMaffei, said of the exhibition match: “I’ll tell you what tomorrow is—the present playing the future.” He was of course, talking about table tennis, but in the years to come, the same sentiment could be said about Germany and China’s respective equipment industries.

Molding, Then and Now

By: Tony Deligio 20. May 2015

That quote from Amos Golovoy who in 1991 in New Orleans launched what is today Molding 2015 but was then “Advances in Polymer Processing”. In 1994, the event’s name was changed to Molding, but the goal then as now was to help people in plastics make better parts faster. That was a particular area of interest back then for Golovoy who was working for automotive OEM Ford Motor Co.

 

“At Ford Research, I was involved in research on plastics properties and processing,” Golovoy says. “The general knowledge in the area was diffuse. I thought a conference that focused on plastics processing would help.”

 

Back in 1991, the main conference sessions covered injection molding, rapid prototyping, mold making, computer aided engineering (CAE) and molding simulation. At the second conference, presentations examined gas assist, co-injection, SCORIM, automated molding cells, robotics, metallic lost core technology, and more.

 

Speakers came from some recognizable companies, which have since changed their names and/or ownership, including Battenfeld of America, Co-Mack, Lexmark, Mannesmann Demag, Wittmann Robots, and Pitney Bowes among others.

 

Some important injection molding topics the conference has covered over the years include:

 

  • Gas assist
  • Co-injection and multi-materials molding
  • In-mold processing (assembly, coating, labeling, decorating)
  • Automated molding cells
  • Clean Room medical molding
  • ‘Green’ molding
  • LSR Molding
  • Micromolding
  • Mucell

  

“Individuals come and go,” Golovoy remembers, “but the majority of speakers and attendees are from the molding industry, resins suppliers, and OEMs.”

 

To learn more about Molding 2015, visit the event’s website where you can view the full agenda and register.

Moon’s Rise: Extreme Molding’s Joanne Moon Reflects on 38 Years in Medical

By: Tony Deligio 13. May 2015

Joanne Moon, who in 2002 cofounded custom molder Extreme Molding with Lynn Momrow-Zielinski, will bring the breadth and depth of that experience to Molding 2015 (June 16-18, Chicago) where she’ll deliver a presentation as part of the Medical and LSR session.

 

Recently, Moon reflected with Plastics Technology on her ever-changing path in the industry:

 

  • Plant Manager at C.R. Bard in 1978 in charge of manufacturing extruded and molded catheters
  • Employee No. 2 at startup UroMed Corp.
  • Worldwide General Manager for Healthcare Products for Saint-Gobain
  • Co-founder Extreme Molding (Read Plastics Technology’s July 2013 Onsite for more on Extreme)

 

She also gave her insights on the future of the sector, including where technology is taking it. Extreme Molding specializes in molding plastics and silicone life sciences products and high end consumer products, with overmolding as a core competency. As a contract manufacturer, Extreme also provides packaging and fulfillment for its customers “shipping around the block or around the world.”

 

PT: What are some of the processing challenges associated with molding silicones and thermoplastics in the same facility? How do you overcome these?

 

Moon: The two materials are totally different processes, one running the final product in a  hot mold, the other a cold mold. We therefore have to stagger the equipment for chilling and heating requirements. We also have to have technicians with different skill sets in the installation and process set-ups of each type. We have done a great deal of training and planning to overcome the differences.

 

PT: What are some of the reasons Extreme Molding has been able to reshore jobs? Is this trend continuing?

 

Moon: We have been competitive in our pricing, and emphasized quality and delivery as well as volume flexibility. We receive probably 3-5 calls a week from companies producing overseas eager to transition to the states. The most vulnerable group is in infant and female healthcare products, where material integrity is such a concern. The trend is increasing.

 

PT: What is the biggest challenge associated with over molding, particularly mixing materials?

 

Moon: The biggest challenge with over-molding is the temperature and processing parameters of the two materials. The second biggest challenge is bonding of the two materials.

 

PT: Given when Extreme was founded (September 2002), and the market challenges that plastics in particular and manufacturing in general have seen since that time, what have been the keys to the company surviving and succeeding?

 

Moon: Extreme has always focused on markets that were less “commodity pricing” focused, and we have been very fiscally conservative. The economic black cloud was seen by us, and we started doing contingency planning and really reigning in our expenses. We turned down several opportunities if they were not a good fit with our material and molding expertise and could not yield the level of gross margin we needed to be profitable.

 

PT: In the ‘old boys club’ of plastics, has it been difficult to succeed as a woman-owned business?

 

Moon: Just the opposite—many of the customers for the markets we serve prefer dealing with women. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we can deliver to our customers a quality product, at an affordable price, on time.

 

PT: From a process and technology standpoint, what are the keys to serving the medical/healthcare market? 

 

Moon: The process and technology must support a repeatable process with very little variation in specification and quality. We perform statistical quality control as well as 100% inspection on all the products we ship. In addition, impeccable material and lot traceability is critical to our customers.

 

PT: What new technologies is Extreme most excited about and/or interested in?

 

Moon: We are most excited about new techniques for imbedding electronics into substrates, new over-molding techniques and new materials, such as the evolution of TPE/TPU grades. We are also intrigued with a new class of fast cure silicones as well as fiber reinforced silicone.

 

To learn more about Molding 2015, visit the event’s website where you can view the full agenda and register.




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