Karlheinz Bourdon: At the Core of Machinery Technology
Dr. Karlheinz Bourdon entered into the Plastics Hall of Fame on Sunday. He has a prominent career in the plastics machinery industry, where he has contributed with cutting-edge developments in injection molding.
Dr. Karlheinz Bourdon is a Mechanical Engineer who has developed and implemented several groundbreaking and cross-technology systems for the plastics processing industry.
He worked in senior management positions for Ferromatik Milacron and currently is senior vice president of integration for KraussMaffei Corp. He also has been active with the Boards of VDMA and EUROMAP. He is now also in the Plastics Hall of Fame, inducted on Sunday in a gala ceremony.
His interest in the plastics industry started during his studies of Mechanical Engineering at the RWTH Aachen University. There, he had the chance to get to know Professor Georg Menges, one of the pioneers of the plastics industry and now a fellow Plastics Hall of Fame member, who introduced him to plastics machinery. “The plastics machinery industry has always fascinated me,” Bourdon says. “Compared with the chemical industry, it has relatively small companies, but they operate globally. This provides many development opportunities.”
Among his achievements, he counts the launch of the first electric injection molding machine produced in Europe—the Elektra 100—during his time with Ferromatik Milacron. “At that time, there was a dispute in the industry about energy consumption of injection molding machines and about potential limits of the existing hydraulic machines in terms of highest precision,” Bourdon says. “So, there was a strong need for new all-electric injection molding machines outperforming the existing concepts of all present systems. The Elektra 100 was able to run dry cycle times of 0.9 second when it was launched in 1992. This was, by far, the fastest all-electric injection molding machine at that time.”
Another highlight of his career was the Double SpinForm machine supplied by KraussMaffei to BMW in 2010. “BMW needed this special technology for the preparation of the innovative electric car series i3 and i8 production: double spin platen, 4000 tons of clamping force, three components,” Bourdon says. “The problem here was that the machine had to be assembled directly at the intended site, although it was the first machine with this technology and this magnitude. The Double SpinForm machine went into operation without any problems – that was impressive and exciting.”
“A lot has changed in the now almost 35 years I have been involved in the plastics processing industry,” Bourdon says. “The material ‘plastic’ is no longer only the cheap product plastic, but is indispensable in many areas of our global life and supports us in numerous high-quality applications. For example, in mobility or medical technology. This image change is important, at the same time we are required in industry and society to handle the material in a responsible manner and protect the resources accordingly.”
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