In-Mold Decorating | 16 MINUTE READ

K 2004 News Preview: Injection Molding


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The diversity of electric machines will be on display at this year’s show, with several new all-electric versions in direct-drive and belt-driven versions. Hybrid designs that promise to deliver the precision and repeatability of servo motors with the power and performance of hydraulics will be presented as well, including a new tiebarless version.

New two-platen designs will also be featured by at least four major suppliers. There will also be new choices in high-speed presses for packaging as well as new entries for micro-molding. New multi-component systems will debut to meet strong interest ranging from automotive to medical markets.

Several companies will roll out new PET preform machines with higher cavitation and/or multi-layer capability. There is also news in other specialties such as structural foam, injection/compression, and vertical presses. K 2004 will also be a platform for launching new developments in hot runners and robots.


All-electrics abound

Demag Plastics Group Corp.Demag Plastics Group plans to begin worldwide marketing of two different styles of IntElect all-electric machines that have up to now been sold in specific regions. Four models of direct-drive units ranging from 55 to 165 tons, built in Germany and sold up to now only in Europe, will become available in the U.S. The reverse is true of three models of belt-and-ballscrew units from 220 to 385 tons made in the U.S. and sold only in North America. The direct-drive models feature two coupled high-torque servo motors that are connected directly to the ballscrew spindles, eliminating belts and reduction gears. The belt-driven versions have been updated with new drives and a choice of injection units. 

MHI Injection Molding Machinery (Mitsubishi) will debut a new line of direct-drive all-electric presses. The new MEII series will be offered initially in 385- and 495-ton models. Dry-cycle times have been cut 25% compared with the previous ME model, and new computer-designed platens provide 25% less deflection. Options include a hydraulic power unit for core pulls, valve gates, nozzle-touch force, and powered swiveling of the injection unit. Options include a core-back circuit for foam molding and a secondary electric injection unit (5 or 10 oz) for two-material molding.

As we reported last month, Netstal will introduce its new Elion line of all-electric machines ranging initially from about 55 to about 200 tons. A new toggle clamp design makes the machines considerably shorter.

And as we reported in July, Engel will present the E-Motion T, a new all-electric tiebar press series that complements its E-Motion electric tiebarless line.

Arburg will introduce a 55-ton model in its Allrounder A line of electric toggle machines. The A line features electric operation of plastication, injection, and clamping, with a choice of electric or hydraulic operation for the secondary functions such as ejection and core pull.

Negri Bossi will unveil a new 70-ton Elma all-electric model featuring a brand-new composite base that improves machine stiffness while simplifying its overall design. A new 480-ton size will also be introduced. Negri Bossi will demonstrate its Amico wireless machine-monitoring system, which has been updated to allow other machine types to be connected to the central Amico PC.

Sandretto will introduce a new all-electric press series, though no details were available at press time.

Nissei will show its new Elject NEX all-electric series, which has replaced its Elject ES series. Two models of 110 and 180 tons will be shown. The series features a new controller with a 100-microsec scan speed that reportedly improves injection speed control by up to 40% and reduces injection-pressure fluctuation by 50%. Other new features include high-performance mold protection, a new Flat Clamp mechanism said to reduce deflection, automatic clamp-force correction, and, for the larger models, a new closed-loop liquid lubrication system for the ballscrews.

The V-alpha series of all-electric machines from Victor Taichung Machinery Works of Taiwan (represented here by Fortune International) is being extended with a new 220-ton model (previous range was 55 to 110 tons). The company may add 150- and 300-tonners next year.

Milacron will exhibit an add-on electric injection unit mounted on a hydraulic press for multi-component molding. The add-on comes from Milacron’s Elektra Evolution series of all-electric presses that it currently sells only in Europe. Milacron will also roll out a new 198-ton two-component Elektra machine.


Hybrids are hot

Demag is extending its El-Exis S hybrid hydraulic/electric line with a new 600-ton model. The toggle unit, which has servo-electric screw plastication and clamp traverse movements, features injection speed up to 1000 mm/sec using accumulator-assisted hydraulics, as well as more robust platens and new controls that reportedly improve machine stability by 50%. A new 770-ton model being developed will be suited to high-cavitation or stack molds while maintaining the fast cycling of the smaller presses. The company is also redesigning the smaller models (up to 460 tons) with a new direct-drive AC motor for plasticating. The concept comes from the European version of Demag’s IntElect series.

Engel will introduce the Victory Electric tiebarless hybrid machine with a hydraulically driven clamp and an all-electric injection unit. Size range is 66 to 165 tons.

Victor Taichung (Fortune) expects to roll out a hybrid series by year’s end that starts in the 400- or 500-ton range. That series will feature hydraulically driven injection, carriage movement, and ejection with electrically driven clamping and plastication, although details have not been finalized.


Two-platens propagate

DPG will roll out its new Titan series hydromechanical two-platen line, which will ultimately range from 1210 tons to 4400 tons, with the 3300-ton size coming out in mid-2005 and the 4400 tonner in 2006. The line combines the clamp and injection unit from DPG’s Maxx series with the drive technology, linear clamp guide, and NC4 control from the Caliber series. The Titan has a locking system on the stationary platen and retracting tiebars on the moving platen.

Krauss-Maffei will introduce its new CX series two-platen machine in 385-, 880- and 1760-ton models. They replace the 12-year old C series and offer even easier access to the clamp, whose performance is enhanced by an upgraded hydraulic system. K-M will show two CX models in clean-room applications. They incorporate a new drive system developed to retract the clamping unit from the clean room for mold changing or maintenance. In addition, K-M will introduce its new MC 5 microprocessor control, standard on its CX and MX presses. Krauss Maffei will show its new MX line of large two-platen machines, which range from 880 to 6000 tons.

Sandretto will unveil a compact clamp on its Mega H two-platen hydromechanical press.

Negri Bossi will show for the first time its new Bi-Power two-platen large press line, represented by an 1800-tonner. The design reduces the moving mass of the clamp to cut power consumption and stress on the cylinders, while minimizing platen tilt.

Engel has converted its Duo large two-platen line to a system of standardized modules, including a completely new range of injection units. This change is said to add flexibility of configuration, shorten lead times, and simplify service and maintenance. New standard options are also available, such as wide and extra-wide platens.


High-speed packaging

Engel will roll out its new MacPAC series of high-speed toggle machines for thin-wall packaging. The series ranges from 138 to 715 tons and features a new injection unit designed for small shots and high homogenization at low melt temperatures. A 138-tonner at the show will mold PP margarine tubs in a two-cavity mold in 2.9 sec.

Netstal is expanding its SynErgy line of hydraulic toggles with a new 880-ton machine (previous range was 66 to 660 tons) for packaging in high-cavitation molds.

Krauss-Maffei will demonstrate its new, high-performance HPX plasticating unit for PP on a model in its C3 Sprinter range of hydromechanical, two-platen presses. The unit has a grooved feed section and a barrier screw with a mixing section. Melt temperature for PP is said to be 10° C lower than with a standard screw. The HPX unit reportedly also improves processing of HDPE and PS, though to a lesser degree.

Milacron will unveil a new injection unit for the K-Tec line from Ferromatik Milacron Europe. Designed for high-performance packaging applications with a gas accumulator, Milacron has optimized the hydraulics to deliver injection speeds up to 1200 mm/sec vs. 500 to 700 mm/sec for its standard K-Tec units.


Multi-component units

Krauss-Maffei will show its C3 Sprinter two-platen press used in a multi-component application for the first time. It will produce a thin-wall, 400-cc container.

Engel will demonstrate its process for injection-compression molding polycarbonate auto glazing by molding a sun roof with an integral support frame on a 1500-ton Duo Combo CS two-platen press with a rotary stack mold. The press has two horizontal injection units positioned opposite each other. A rotary center-platen module positioned between the clamp rotates the part and can be used for two- or four-station operation. In this case, the part is removed from the side by a jointed-arm robot. This machine will utilize a new parallelism-control feature in the clamp that balances the pressure on all the tiebar cylinders. Benefits are said to be reduced wear on the machine and mold and ability to use the lowest possible fill pressure.

Engel will also show a new eccentrically mounted three-station rotary table in a two-component application. The device will be part of an 80-ton Engel Victory Combi unit with the second injection unit in a piggyback configuration that will produce a part from PBT and LSR. The third (and optional fourth) station can be used for post-cooling, insert loading, parts removal, or plasma treating the first shot for better adhesion to the second material.

Sandretto says its latest development in multi-component technology will combine three injection units with in-mold labeling for an automotive application.


Micro-molding advances

Battenfeld will show a Microsystem 50 specially designed to manufacture high-precision medical parts weighing less than 0.01 g. It will produce a vascular clamp with a diameter of about 4 mm and a wall thickness of approximately 0.4 mm.

Nissei will exhibit its Elject EP5 Real Mini all-electric machine with a clamp force of 5 tons. It is designed for shot weights under 3 g.

Boy says it will present what it deems the “smallest shot” at K when its 15-ton Boy 12A produces miniature toothed wheels weighing 0.001g in a two-cavity mold. This application will show off the shorter residence time and better thermal stability delivered by the 12-mm-diam. plasticating unit.

In other small-machine news, Arburg will introduce new models in Allrounder U series of hydraulic machines. A new Allrounder U with a 38.5 ton clamp will be the largest in the line (previously 13.5 to 20 tons) and feature a swiveling injection unit that is interchangeable. It will make a connector part.


New PET preform offerings

Multi-layer PET preform production in high volumes will be on display by Kortec, which is showing a new 144-cavity molding system called the Ultra 144. The three-layer preform system (based on a Husky press and Kortec tool) can make 576 preforms/min with neck diameters of 28 mm. The unit is part of a turnkey system for carbonated soft-drink or beer bottles.

Netstal says its PET-Line 3500 (385-ton) and 6000 (660-ton) PET perform machines will have an optimized plasticating system for shorter cycle times. A 96-cavity system will produce 20.5-g preforms in 9.6 sec, demonstrating for the first time hydraulic slides for thread release.

Boy Machines will demonstrate preform molding on its Boy 90A, which is reportedly capable of running up to 1100 preforms/hr. It can handle preforms for bottles up to 2.5 liters.

In addition, Husky just signed an exclusive agreement to offer its customers a line of dry-ice blast cleaning systems from Cold Jet. Husky says this non-abrasive cleaning method is fast, easy, safe, and economical for cleaning PET preform molds. Dry ice reportedly does not damage the mold and evaporates on contact, so there is no runoff, rinsing, or drying. Both Husky and Cold Jet will exhibit at K.


Other injection news

Engel will also promote two new developments in multi-cavity production. It will demonstrate the latest developments in its Watermelt water-injection technology, which has now been adapted for multi-point injection and multi-cavity molds. At the show the process will be used to mold a collapsible crate in which four of the five parts produced in each shot will be hollowed out through water injection. Although the different parts are cored out to different degrees, all four parts will be fed from one Watermelt unit.

Engel will show that its X-Melt process, in which melt is pre-pressurized (compressed) in front of the screw and then expands into the mold with explosive speed, now can be applied to multi-cavity molds. The process, which can fill small, thin-walled parts in a few hundredths of a second, will be used to produce a battery casing in a four-cavity hot-runner mold in a cycle time of 5 sec. The part will have a thickness of only 0.15 mm and a flow length of 30 mm, which Engel says would be impossible with any other process. The application will demonstrate a special hot-runner valve-gate system from Mold-Masters. The melt is compressed inside the manifold, and then the machine shutoff nozzle valve is actuated, so that the screw is totally isolated from the filling process. Also, a single plate actuates all four valve gates to produce perfectly simultaneous cavity filling, which is necessary for the X-Melt process to work properly.

Engel has developed a new injection-compression module for its Optimelt process for ultra-high-precision optical components. The new module is mounted on the moving side of the clamping unit and works with a hydraulic pancake cylinder and closed-loop control to produce lenses with a “moth’s-eye” surface microstructure that eliminates the need for non-reflective coatings.

Battenfeld will roll out two new sizes (231 and 300 tons) in the fully hydraulic HM line, which ranges from 27.5 to 4400 tons. The 231-tonner will be demonstrated with a new Unirob R10S robot, equipped with servo-electric drives on all main axes.

Demag has enhanced its Extra series of general-purpose machines with several new features. These include automatic screw identification, an “operator-friendly” ejector function, and an ultrasonic stroke-measuring system on the injection unit. Ejector movement during mold opening is now possible. In addition, three models now have increased clamp force: The Extra 120 was boosted from 121 to 132 tons, the Extra 130 from 137.5 to 143 tons, and the Extra 160 from 165 to 176 tons.

Boy will demonstrate in-mold labeling in a fully automated cell with its 35M vertical/vertical press.

Wilmington Machinery will unveil two new machines for structural foam parts. Its new Lumina 1600h is designed for multi-nozzle gas-assist injection molding structural parts. It has a clamp force of 355 tons and features a shot capacity of 25.1 lb using a single or dual accumulator system and can accommodate up to 64 nozzle locations.

Also new is the Lumina LP, designed for structural foam, gas-assist, or other low-pressure processes for molding large, heavy, or thick parts with cycle times of 60 sec or more. The two-stage extruder/injection system maximizes output, while a configurable main manifold system features building block extensions to channel the melt. The press can handle shot sizes from 150 to 200 lb.

Boy Machines will demonstrate molding of solid gum silicone rubber in a two-cavity cold-runner mold. Boy says this approach offers easier handling and lower cost than two-component LSR. A Boy 22 M unit fitted with a stuffing device will mold silicone cookie molds. Victor Taichung (Fortune) will introduce its new Vr Series hydraulic machines. The line, offered in a range from 50 to 550 tons, will be represented by the Vr-180 model.

In robot news, Battenfeld will demonstrate its new Unirob R10 S, an all-servo robot with 10-kg handling capacity.

Wittmann will roll out four new robots. Model W710 is an electric/pneumatic model with a payload capacity of 11 lb, suited to machines up to 250 tons. It has a fixed kick stroke and a vertical axis that has been optimized for low vibration. The W711 CS3 model is based on the W710 but has all-servo drives. The all-servo W721 CS3 has a payload of 22 lb for machines up to 400 tons. The W753 for large machines takes a payload of 165 lb.

Spirex will introduce the Power-Purge system, which cleans screws, barrels, and nonreturn valves without disassembling the injection unit. This is accomplished with a new patented valve design and a cleaning compound.



Hot Runner News

  • Fast Heat will expand its Pulse Series temperature controllers from 24 to 180 zones. A new 10-in. color display module enables operators to manage all 180 zones from one screen interface.
  • Gammaflux will roll out brand-new hot-runner temperature controllers and has made it possible to integrate its TTC control systems into the control interface of major injection machine brands.
  • Hasco will introduce the Compact Shot Nozzle Z3200 for multi-cavity applications that require close center distances. The nozzle can be installed from the manifold side or front. Hasco will also introduce the Single Shot H4510 manifold, a standard, off-the-shelf product for a single drop.
  • Heitec (represented here by J-Tech HotRunner and Technoject) will roll out new multi-tip nozzles with edge gates in its Star-Line series. The tip inserts are put in after the nozzle is installed, allowing for unconventional gate locations.
  • Incoe will introduce a cooling gate insert that allows cooling fluid to pass through the front areas of the gate insert with turbulent flow for optimum cooling. Incoe also has a new insert for topless gates that installs much more simply, with less drilling than a standard topless gate. When pressed in, the insert automatically fixes in the bore and locks against rotation, without an additional locating pin.
  • Incoe also has a new twin-coil nozzle heater that has the same outside dimensions as a conventional Incoe nozzle heater. The redundant heater is a backup if the first heater coil fails. The heater switches over to the backup without interruption. Incoe has also redesigned the nozzle heater for its unitized system to make removal easier and faster, while eliminating the chance for leakage due to improper assembly. Mold Hotrunner Solutions will introduce its new Rheo-Pro N20 nozzle for sequential and cascade filling of large parts such as auto body panels. Also new is the multi-tip Rheo-Pro M04 nozzle for high-temperature resins, a single valve gate called the Rheo-Pro SVG for stack molds, and the Rheo-Pro N04 micro nozzle for direct gating of parts from 10 to100 mg.
  • Mold-Masters will introduce new “Multi” components for multi-color and multi-material applications. The company will show several new valve gates, including one that allows for micro-adjustment of the valve-pin position in the mold.
  • The firm will also introduce V-Guide, a new valve guidance system, as well as its recently released Accu-valve cylindrical valve-gate system. Its Flex series for large parts will be upgraded to shorten lead times, broaden the application range, and make it easier to use longer nozzles. New gating options will be added to the Femto-Lite line of small nozzles, as well as new specialty gating options such as side gating in ultra-high-cavitation molds and hot-tip systems for frequent color changes. Also, the TempMaster line of temperature controls will be ex panded.
  • Synventive will introduce a new standard system combining its smallest nozzle, the CA, with its slim (VC) manifold and valve-gate actuator. Also, the CA nozzle series has been ex tended from 96 to 136 mm, and the standard flow bore is now 4 mm. Synventive will introduce new inserts for its CB nozzles, which are suited to highly filled or abrasive materials. A new torpedo for that series delivers more cosmetic gates.