Processes | 16 MINUTE READ

Auxiliaries at NPE: New Solutions from Material Preparation To Post-Mold Operations

NPE2012 Preview

There will be an extraordinary range of new auxiliary equipment on display at the show.


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Given the wide range of topics in the category of “auxiliary equipment,” it’s hard to make generalizations about the new offerings, except that they will be varied and plentiful. You can get an idea of the themes and trends from this quick rundown of news in drying, blending, feeding, conveying, size reduction, heating/cooling, welding, testing/measuring, and decorating/finishing.

One place to start is with a brand-new source of auxiliary equipment. Hot-runner supplier Ewikon Molding Technologies has just become the exclusive U.S. distributor for Main Tech S.R.L. in Italy. Approaching the U.S. market for the first time, Main Tech supplies hot-air and desiccant dryers, hopper loaders, volumetric feeders, central material-handling systems, and granulators for injection and blow molding and extrusion.


Few exhibits of auxiliaries at NPE have as much potential to change established habits as the new MoistureMaster from Novatec Inc. Based on technology from BryAir Prokon in Switzerland, it measures actual moisture content in resin pellets instantaneously as they leave a drying hopper or storage vessel or enter the throat of a processing machine. According to Novatec, it eliminates the uncertainties inherent in today’s focus on measuring and controlling the temperature, dewpoint, and flow rate of drying air and only inferring a relationship to the moisture in the resin.

Until now, actual resin moisture could be confirmed only with laborious, time-consuming, and operator-sensitive offline lab testing. Novatec believes MoistureMaster will be of major significance to medical, automotive, and other quality-sensitive industries that require validation of resin drying.

Meanwhile, a new style of wheel dryer, which initially appeared at K2010, will be shown for the first time in the U.S. Wittmann Battenfeld  is featuring its Aton dryer, which has a series of chambers housing loose desiccant—the same type as in conventional desiccant-bed dryers. The desiccant can be replaced without replacing the wheel itself (see Oct. ’10 Close Up).

Other news in drying at the show:

•Conair is adding touchscreen panels to its mid-sized dryers, bringing new capabilities like data-trend analysis.

•Dri-Air Industries has upgraded its volumetric dryer/blender to gravimetric capability. The system can ratio two materials using two feeders mounted on load cells. The feeder is filled to a preset amount by opening a gate under the PDII dryer. The amount of material in the feeder is recorded and compared with the amount in the feeder after dispensing into the common conveying stream. It’s said to yield a more consistent ratio by eliminating the mixing chamber.

•Also new from Dri-Air is the Dri-Pak line of small, hopper-mounted compressed-air membrane dryers. They provide a continuous stream of -49 F dewpoint air at 90 to 350 F. They can dry up to 15 lb/hr and need no cooling water or aftercoolers.

•Kreyenborg Plant Technology has converted its IRD continuous infrared drum crystallizer/dryer to a new batch version, called IR Batch. It’s designed for crystallizing PET color masterbatches, whose crystallizing behavior can be affected by various colorants, and other hard-to-crystallize materials.

•Moretto S.p.A. in Italy is introducing to the U.S. its Eureka concept for drastically reducing energy consumption and improving performance in PET drying. It involves three exclusive technologies: the new X Max modular dryers, Flowmatic control device, and OTX hoppers (for details, see June ’10 Close Up).

•Also new from Moretto is a new minidryer with an OTX hopper and guaranteed performance up to -72 C dewpoint. Two models offer throughputs of 1.1 and 4.4 lb/hr. Both are available with a clear glass hopper for medical and optical applications. Integrated Venturi loading control and touchscreen panel are standard.

•Three new central dryer sizes will be shown by Motan: Luxor A 80, 120, and 160 (the numbers refer to dry-air generating capacity in m3/hr). Each is capable of conveying to 16 drying bins and 24 machine loaders. Motan is also showing its new energy-saving ETA plus air-regulation system. It comprises automatic temperature adjustment and airflow control, as well as the ETA waste-heat recovery system (using return air to heat the resin).

•Thoreson-McCosh has integrated Allen-Bradley PLC controls into its dryers, adding a host of features such as touchscreens, dewpoint meters with energy-saving shift control, dirty filter alarm, regeneration heater fault detection and power-saver circuit, and high-dewpoint alarm. New dryer controls include the Delta T Material Saver, which monitors the temperature differential across the drying hopper to determine when the material is dried. Low-temperature desiccant drying is also available for heat-sensitive resins.

•Universal Dynamics has expanded its new flagship line of PCT3 desiccant dryers (see Nov. ’11 Keeping Up) to include lower throughputs. The standard range is now 100 to 6000 lb/hr.
Also new is the next generation of Una-Dyn’s GS Series low-throughput, dual-bed dryers (30 to 150 lb/hr). The very compact GS3 series incorporates the new Focus touchscreen controller (available for all Una-Dyn dryers and crystallizers).

In addition, Una-Dyn is introducing the HGP Series dual-fuel power pack, a compact, self-contained unit that houses both gas and electric heaters, allowing users to choose the most economical energy source.


The new Guardian G2 Series 1-kg batch blender is the highlight of the exhibit of Process Control Corp. Designed for easy cleaning and maintenance, it has an all-stainless hopper redesigned to eliminate nooks and crannies for easy wipe-down. The combined hopper and metering unit is quickly removed for material change and cleanout. The cartridge-valve-style metering unit can be easily removed from the hopper when on or off the machine. The agitator can be removed quickly without tools. In addition, the redesigned cartridge-style mixer discharge valve has eliminated dead zones to improve mixing.

What’s more, Process Control now offers touchscreens for all its blenders; and a new drive package with longer-lasting brushless DC motors (and no encoders) is offered for its auger-based, continuous loss-in-weight blenders. And older AutoBatch weigh blenders can now be upgraded with Guardian Series 2 software and controls.

A brushless DC motor is also a major feature of the new GS vacuum loader from Novatec. Brushless motors reportedly last four to five times as long as standard brush-type motors, but they have been a more expensive option. The new GS loader, however, costs the same as the former model.

New standard features include a 5-yr warranty, filter blowback cleaning, removable control pendant, and a wider 3-in. discharge that handles regrind better. The first model is the GSL-19 (0.5 ft3 capacity) for up to 1000 lb/hr. A smaller model, GSL-12 (0.33 ft3) will be available soon.

The newly redesigned ProBlend Zone Blender from K-Tron  has a more robust internal structure and optimized internal flow baffles for more efficient blending in a wider range of applications. The unit provides blending action in a silo or hopper with no moving parts, by allowing different zones of material to discharge at different rates.

Motan is introducing the Spectrocolor G modular loss-in-weight dosing and mixing unit for extrusion. The modular, stainless unit handles up to six components with throughputs of 0.44 to 2640 lb/hr per ingredient. Motan also is introducing the Minicolor feeder with disc dosing for rapid feeding of quantities too small for auger dosing.

In loaders, Conair has upgraded its ILS Intelligent Loading System and FLX loading control. Both now handle greater numbers of loaders and pumps (see last month’s Keeping Up section).
Foremost Machine Builders is showing for the first time its Format VI-4 PLC control panel, which can control one pump and four loading stations.

K-Tron has a new 2400 Series of Venturi loaders for up to 1600 lb/hr. They handle pellets, regrind, granules, and fine powders.

New Metro powder loaders from Motan come in three sizes for 440, 1100, and 2200 lb/hr.

From Una-Dyn comes the new RLM Series self-contained, multi-machine cell loading module. Designed for small injection molding cells, the compact unit can load one or more stations. It can be a standalone system with onboard controls or be controlled from a Una-Dyn dryer or FACS central control system.

Wittmann is bringing its redesigned Gravimax B14 blender series, which retains the real-time live-scale metering system but adds wear-resistant stainless-steel valves designed to ensure consistent metering (through the same valve) of both free-flowing pellets and regrind prone to bridging. Throughput capacity is 220 lb/hr, and it comes with a ball mixer and two load cells for higher metering accuracy.


As reported last month (Feb. ’11 Keeping Up), Conair is upgrading its ControlWorks central control interface and is adding a new digital material selection station.

Pelletron is showing off its new Pellcon3 pneumatic conveying system, which incorporates the new Strandphase conveying approach. This is said to be a gentler and more economical method of high-volume conveying, midway between standard dense-phase and dilute-phase conveying. Benefits include less dust generation and reduced maintenance and installation costs (see Mar. ’11 Keeping Up).

Pelletron also will display its new RC DeDuster, with a large central cone that increases its cleaning area and provides more cleaning efficiency with less air and without adding height.
NPE will host a number of developments in metal separators. Bunting Magnetics  is bringing its new high-temperature, machine-mounted All-Metal Separator, designed to work at up to 350 F. Also, Bunting’s new Eddy Current Separator (ECS) is said to provide superior separation of nonferrous metals.

From Eriez comes the new CF heavy-duty metal separator for mounting over a machine throat. It removes both magnetic and non-magnetic metals. Eriez’ new CFP metal separators are also throat mounted. They offer high sensitivity to all metals in an exceptionally compact design.
Eriez’ new FF metal separators grab all ferrous and nonferrous metals in free-fall, even if the metal is encapsulated within plastic pellets. And new PN all-metal separators are mounted within pneumatic conveying lines.

Meanwhile, Palace Packaging Machines is introducing to North America the ZE 3000 Linear Feeder from RNA Automation Ltd. in England. It will feed, orient, and discharge spray caps at 2000/min. Its multiple tracks eliminate the need for large bowl feeders.

Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. has a new high-speed laner for case packing and palletizing of bottles and other packages. The two-axis, servo unit maintains a continuous flow of product without need for accumulators.


Low-speed shredding has gained popularity for heavy-duty scrap reclaim over conventional granulating, owing to reduced noise, dust, and energy consumption. Vecoplan will unveil its VAZ 1300 single-shaft, medium-duty shredder with beltless drive, double sidewalls, reversible and externally adjustable knives, hydraulic swing-up screen carriage, and reversible screen.

On display for the first time will be a WL(K) Series Jumbo single-shaft shredder and Spider HRS Series single-shaft shredder from Weima America. The spider is the newest addition to the line and it features a range of pressure-feed devices that can be changed quickly for different materials.

Two European producers of single-shaft shredders will introduce their equipment to the U.S. market at NPE: A TRM Series single-shaft shredder from CMG SpA of Italy will be shown by CMG America. And Lindner America LLC will introduce the Vega 1100 single-shaft shredder from Germany.

If thick purgings are your size-reduction challenge, Maguire Products has expanded the capabilities of its low-cost, two-stage Purging Recovery System (PRS). It first planes the purging into thin slices, which drop down into a granulator below. The newly enhanced PRS now can handle flexible PVC, which is stretchy and can jam conventional granulators. The PRS can process 85 Shore A vinyl, such as from wire and cable. The unit now also can process PS, which can melt under frictional heat in standard equipment.

The rotomolding market, which frequently pulverizes pellets into powders, will be interested in what’s said to be the first disposable cutting disk for pulverizers, introduced by Reduction Engineering Scheer. The lightweight disk reportedly has double the service life of standard disks, and at half the cost. Its design is also said to increase throughput and provide more efficient cooling.


Pressurized hot-water TCUs are attracting growing interest from molders that want to avoid hot oil. A pioneer in this field is Single Temperature Controls, which will present its latest units for up to 225 C/437 F. Single will also demonstrate its model STWS alternating-temperature system for the burgeoning field of Variotherm hot/cold molding.

Conair will show its new TW-HT Series pressurized-water unit for up to 200C/392 F. The TW-HTM version can go up to 225 C/437 F. Conair will also show the new TW-ALT TCU for alternating hot/cold water delivery in Variotherm applications.

A high-temperature water system (up to 180 C/356 F) is also new from Wittmann. The company will also show its new standard Tempro plus D water TCU with 5.7-in. color touchscreen.

A new source of TCUs, including high-temperature water, is Frigel, which has supplemented its chilling and cooling equipment line by becoming the exclusive North American distributor of hot-water and oil units from HB-Therm of Switzerland ( Hot-water units go up to 180 C/356 F. Features include reportedly unique non-contact heaters, tankless design with minimum fluid volume, absence of pump seals, and shock-free proportioning cooling valves.

News from Mokon includes the Full Range oil heating/cooling systems with a temperature range of 50 to 600 F. Pumping capacities are up to 30 gpm.

Mokon will also show new modulating portable chillers that conserve energy at low operating rates, thanks to their Copeland scroll digital compressor, which can modulate capacity from 100% down to as low as 10%. Longer compressor life is also claimed. Mokon also has a new line of Iceman low-temperature portable chillers (down to -23 C/-10 F), for which it is developing plastics applications.

Thermal Care will show new PLC controls with diagnostic capabilities for its pump tanks.

And Burger & Brown Engineering has a new Delta-Q flow regulator, described as a low-cost module for manual flow adjustment of individual cooling circuits in an injection molding machine.


Herrmann Ultrasonics will unveil the HiQ new-generation ultrasonic welding series which is said to offer a wealth of options and variants in both hardware and software. The newly redesigned and smallest ultrasonic generator works with a over 80% efficiency when powered with up to 6000W. The company will also unveil a novel punch-and-weld system for automotive and medical filter membranes (details next month).

Branson Ultrasonics is highlighting new DCX digital power supplies, its first “global” series of ultrasonic welding power supplies for automated assembly systems. These are said to offer several “first-in-the-world” features (see February Close Up). Branson will also feature new welding technology that combines the benefits of vibration and infrared techniques.

Bielomatik will showcase the new K3642 laser integration module, which is optimized for cleanroom Class 7 and GMP grade C. It also allows laser transmission welding to be integrated into existing facilities. The laser unit is just 300 mm wide and offers installation flexibility and accessability.

Sonics & Materials, Inc. will introduce the SmartSystem ultrasonic welder with operator touchpanel. It’s available for 40-, 20-, and 15-kHz welding systems and includes digital time, energy, and distance-based welding modes.

Rinco UItrasonics USA will introduce the FPA Series of modular, ultrasonic liquid-filled-pouch sealing systems, designed to replace existing heat-sealing equipment on liquid form-fill-seal machinery. The FPA4500S actuators’ narrow width (95 mm) allows multiple heads to fit on duplex and triplex machines. The actuator can create seals up to 9-in. wide.

Kiefel will introduce its IV Express welding technology, a line of contact-heat or radio-frequency (RF) welding units for production of IV bags with integrated filling.

Genesis Plastics Welding will highlight its proprietary RF welding technology that seals polyolefin and TPE materials previously not susceptible to this sealing technique. Medical applications such as urine bags will be on display.

LPKF Laser & Electronicswill show off its laser plastic welders—the LQ Vario, LQ Power, and TwinWeld3D, to demonstrate advantages such as higher control and joining quality, lower stress to the component, and ability to weld complex and intricate parts.  


Raytek will showcase the recently enhanced version of its Thermo-View Pi20 process imager with DataTemp Pi  software. This rugged, easy-to-operate thermal imaging system includes two additional cameras and a new enclosure.

AVID will introduce the Quicheck mobile/workstation video measurement system for pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers. It features short measurement cycle time. Also on display will be an updated version of the AVMS 2000 automated bottle and container volume measurement system, which includes a new ejection system that completely drains water from the container following measurement.

Cognex Corp. will demonstrate its latest vision and ID systems, including its industrial-grade In-Sight vision system and the Checker 4G vision sensor. The latter is an all-in-one industrial sensor with built-in camera, processor, lighting, optics, and I/O capable of detecting and inspecting up to 6000 parts/min.

Agr International will introduce an all-new vision-based system that mounts inside a blow molding machine to detect randomly occurring defects in PET bottles.

For color sensing, Konica Minolta Sensing Americas will launch the CM-3700A, an updated version of the discontinued CM-370d. The new benchtop spectrophotomer features the same optical system, performance, and data compatibility as its predecessor, while adding a new USB communication interface, enlarged sample area to accommodate larger sheet samples, and a newly engineered “soft close” sample holder.

HunterLab is featuring a new line of color measurement instruments that boast compact size, affordability, and network capability.

Paul N. Gardner Co., Inc. will feature the new Rhopoint IQ series of dual and trigloss meters. The new IQ model can measure all aspects of reflective appearance quality—something not possible with a single gloss meter. For example, it is very common for orange peel and haze effects to dramatically reduce the perceived quality of a finish without affecting gloss values.

Zwick/Roell AG will show its new-generation Allround-Line of universal testing machines, featuring a high degree of versatility and flexibility. Its testControl II electronics provide high data-acquisition rates and short test cycles.

Taber Industrieswill introduce the Progressive Load Scratch Tester Model 644 to evaluate the relative susceptibility of a material surface to scratching and marring. It can be configured with diamond scratch tools or optional tungsten carbide scratch tips.

Atlas Material Testing Solutions ( will feature its “revolutionary” S3T (Specimen Specific Surface Temperature) technology, which provides surface-temperature measurement of materials under a wide range of accelerated-weathering test conditions. The system uses a non-contact thermal infrared sensor facing the exposed specimen surface. Temperature data can be viewed in a table or trend plot on new color touchscreen display.

Taiwan’s Cometech Testing Machines will feature testing machines with rigid frame structure, precise servomotor and ballscrew drives, computer testing control, and different grips/accessories.  


Plasmatreat North America and newly acquired subsidiary PTS will feature Plasmatreat’s new entry-level Junior 500, a small and lightweight but powerful atmospheric plasma-jet system for pretreating parts to be decorated or bonded. Also on display will be PTS’s new Aurora vacuum plasma unit, which features flexible chamber design for modification of 3D parts. It uses a cold-gas primary plasma process, enabling treatment of thermally sensitive polymers.

DPSS Lasers, Inc.  is demonstrating the new Samurai UV laser-marking system. Applications for this “cold laser” marker are product coding, micro-machining, marking, and medical packaging. Unlike IR lasers, UV types can utilize photo-ablation or photochemical response rather than thermal ablation, which can damage some materials.

Apex Machine Co. will introduce its high-speed C-90 automated, turnkey cylindrical part printer that can be integrated with a vision inspection system and bagger. The C-90 can be configured for a variety of product sizes and provides reportedly unrivaled changeover speed. It can do multi-color printing with dry-offset, FlexApex, or a combination of both technologies. Production rates are up to 600 parts/min.

Italy’s MOSS SRL will show for the first time in the U.S. its new Digitube transfer technology for decorating cosmetic containers with high-quality images. These images are preprinted using a Xeicon printer, which can make toner-printed images at 1200 dpi rolled up on silicone paper. These rolls are then used by Digitube to transfer the high-quality images to the containers with heat and pressure. After transfer, a lacquering device and UV drying (optional) are used to improve scratch resistance and give added appeal to the decoration.

Kammann USA is presenting a new decorating machine with advanced features for direct screen printing on containers. An average changeover time of 30 min, including captured tooling, plus a ±0.004-in. color-to-color registration are claimed.

Pad Print Machinery of Vermont will show a new, low-cost, high-resolution, eight-color, single-pass inkjet printer, suitable for most applications on flat and semi-flat surfaces and customizable with additional pretreatment and other conveyor options.

Inland Label  will feature in-mold labels supplied to molders on a roll and cut inline before being placed in the mold. This reportedly provides up to 30% cost savings over standard cut-and-stack IML labels when used in appropriate applications.