NPE 2009 Wrap-Up: New Machinery for Injection Molding
New injection machinery at the show ranged from all-electric units for high-speed packaging or bioplastic processing to hybrid presses ready for the cleanroom. Other units highlighted multi-component molding with LSR and thermoplastics or super-compact presses for small parts. Several new machines targeted specific applications such as caps and closures, PET preforms, LSR, or integrated long-glass compounding.
ALL ELECTRICS ABOUND
As we reported previously, there were new all-electrics in Chicago from Arburg, Engel, KraussMaffei, Milacron, Niigata, Sumitomo, Toshiba, Toyo, and Ube. In addition, Absolute Haitian of China made a U.S. debut for its Zhafir Venus all-electric line with the new 120-ton VE 1200. The series is offered from 44 to 461 tons, designed for thin-wall technical parts in high-end automotive, medical, and telecommunications applications. The five-point-toggle press is driven by five AC servo motors with belts and ball screws. The control system from Sigmatek of Austria reportedly provides 0.25-millisec response time which allows the machine to reach maximum injection speed faster than competing all-electrics. Zhafir claims 70% energy savings vs. comparable hydraulic machines. Zhafir expects to roll out its Mercury tiebarless all-electric series with two-stage injection next year in models from 44 to 550 tons.
Several new improvements and options have been added to the Roboshot S2000i-B series of all-electric injection molding machines from Milacron Inc., Batavia, Ohio. The enhancements are immediately available on 55-, 110- and 165-ton models, with the remainder of the line to be upgraded later this year. New features include a stronger, more rigid base and reduced overall height and length. Milacron also improved the electrical system for a more streamlined footprint. A new clamp and ball-screw design are said to reduce dry-cycle times, vibration, and maintenance costs. Optional software enhancements for ejector and clamp operation can reduce cycle times by as much as 13%. The upgraded lubrication system for the injection unit and clamp cuts grease usage by as much as 50%.
Other features include a new belt that reduces noise, and the Artificial Intelligence program for mold protection has been extended to include the mold-opening and ejector strokes. A new feature called Backflow Monitor is said to provide the ability to detect worn or broken check rings. A new standard power consumption and demand screen provide the ability to see the effect of changing process parameters on the power consumption and regeneration circuit.
Toyo (represented here by Maruka USA), expanded its Si-IV series of all-electric double-toggle presses with the Si-940IV model. The new 940-tonner is now the largest in the line, which ranges down to 35 tons. All models now feature Toyo’s newest PLCS-12 control, and the horizontal tiebar spacing has been increased 50 mm on presses from 35 to 150 tons. There is more precise plasticating pressure control, and a double nozzle-touch mechanism that prevents deflection of the stationary platen. The V-shaped toggle system has been redesigned with a steeper angle to direct the force to the center of the mold and reduce the mass of the platen for improved strength while reducing cycle time.
Sumitomo (SHI) Plastics-Machinery (America) LLC, introduced its new “Z-Molding” system, said to improve injection and clamping functions and machine setup, with the aim of reducing part defects and productivity loss. The control concept, standard on Sumitomo’s all-electric SE-DUZ, SE-HSZ, SE-HDZ, and CL-7000 models, reportedly helps molders produce larger or more difficult-to-mold parts on much smaller presses with less stress and improved part properties. Z-Molding utilizes new Flow Front Control (FFC) software for high-precision screw motion and positioning during injection. It also is said to enable complete mold filling at lower pressures. This approach is combined with a new Minimum Clamp Force Molding (MCM) system that determines the least clamp force required. (A 242-ton SE220HDZ model produced a talc-filled PP automotive part with half the pressure normally required.) Also, Simple Process Setup (SPS) lets a molder input a selection of settings for mold installation, processing, protection, and purging all on one screen.
Wittmann Battenfeld unveiled its new EM all-electric line (55 to 300 tons), which will debut this fall. It will be a very “clean” machine, with an enclosed lubrication system and direct drive with gears instead of belts. Wittmann Battenfeld also said it would have a prototype this fall of the redesigned Microsystem electric micromolding machine. Now offered in 5 and 8 tons, it will emerge in early 2010 with 5- and 15-ton sizes.
Ube introduced to North America its UN S-V line of large all-electric machines. These have faster injection capability and linear bearings on all models from 720 tons to the new 3900-ton model. New touchscreen controls are said to be easier to view and operate than the previous S-IV control, while maintaining the same screen architecture. New servo motors and amplifiers use fiber-optic communication; new ball screws require 90% less lubrication; and more rigid wide platens reduce deflection 60%. Also, new electric belt-driven safety gates eliminate the need for pneumatics and improve gate speed 60%.
Italian machine builder BMB, exhibiting at NPE for the first time, says it will soon establish a U.S. office. It showed eKW electric and hybrid presses. The hybrid is offered from around 270 to 1300 tons, while the all-electrics range from 110 to 495 tons.
FOR CAPS & CLOSURES
Husky demonstrated its new HyCAP series of presses optimized for high outputs of beverage closures. Husky says these presses of 248 to 550 tons offer not just productivity but also increased precision, repeatability, and flexibility. Husky cites a combination of faster clamp cycles, special screw and barrel, improved cooling, tighter integration of hot-runner control (“tuned” for each cavity), minimized plate deflection, and faster control response. A 300-tonner at the show produced 0.98-g, 26-mm HDPE water closures in a 72-cavity mold with a cycle time of 2.4 sec.
Husky also operated a HyPET 300 PET preform system, molding 9.5-g preforms for water bottles in a 72-cavity mold at a 5.4-sec cycle. The system employed Husky’s new EcoBase preform design, which yields up to 2.5% resin savings, and the new High Performance Package (HPP), which helps reduce cycle times by up to 15%. The HPP system also features Adaptive Post Mold Cooling that cools the inside and outside of the preform to remove heat faster and prevent ovalization.
Engel demonstrated fast cycling with its all-electric e-motion 420 T Speed (a version that uses a servo motor to drive the toggle clamp) running 1.2-g PP caps in a 72-cavity mold in a cycle under 5 sec. This was intended to show that all-electrics can be used in high-speed packaging applications while providing up to 60% energy savings versus a comparable hydraulic accumulator machine.
HAIL TO THE HYBRIDS
Several companies reported new developments in hybrid electric/hydraulic machines in our May and June issues, including Absolute Haitian, Arburg, Boy, Engel, Ferromatik Milacron, Fortune, MHI, and Sodick Plustech, but additional new products or more details were gathered at the show.
Cincinnati Milacron introduced its new PowerPak high-performance toggle machines for thin-wall, high-speed molding of packaging and consumer products.The new American-built models offer flexibility in the drive systems for major machine movements. They are available as all-electrics or with hydraulic injection and ejection. Both versions have an electric-driven clamp and extruder.
Other features include a No-Flex platen design, a clamp with an improved greaseless solution for stack molds, and injection speeds up to 200 cu in./sec at 34,800 psi. PowerPak also has linear bearing guides for the moving platen, new High-Flow unscrewing rack circuits, new Eject-Bump circuit for ejecting frozen parts off cores, and new Bypass screen filters for use with recycled materials. It also uses the Barr VBET feed screw and Milacron’s Mosaic control, and the walk-up base design allows for easier access to high-cavitation and stack molds. Initial models of 440 and 550 tons will be followed with models from 300 to 1125 tons.
The new Vitesse line of high-speed hybrid machines for thin-wall parts from Ferromatik Milacron (220 to 550 tons) has a new “GreenLine package” of hardware and software that allows the user to measure the current being used in order to optimize energy for a desired production output. The software measures energy consumption by cycle, hour, and shift and includes measurements of energy usage per kg. The package includes management of the hydraulic accumulator where it is filled only to the required level for each process, and it does not initiate parallel movements when they are not required. The hydraulic pump comes with a high-efficiency motor that reduces energy use. The model has a servo-driven hydraulic pump said to provide up to 30% energy savings for clamping and injection.
Milacron also introduced a new dual-clamp machine called MM Stack, designed for use as a stack-mold or tandem press. The model, to be offered up to 450-ton size, has a fixed central platen and ability to operate in one of three sequences, including tandem, sequential, or simultaneous injection. Milacron says the unit delivers twice the production in half the footprint and with 29% less energy than two separate presses. It has a vertical injection unit and shot sizes of 2 to 22 oz.
MHI Injection Molding Machinery introduced a new large hybrid two-platen line called emX. MHI offers 1157- and 1763-ton models. They have a servo-driven hydraulic pump for high-pressure clamping and core pull, servo-driven clamp traverse, and direct-drive injection with an integrated servo motor, ball-screw shaft, and nut for energy savings and better mechanical efficiency. MHI’s new MAC VIII control has a 12-in. LCD touchscreen. MHI says the unit has a 20% faster dry cycle and only one-third the start-up time of its hydraulic models
NPE was also the North American debut of MHI’s emR hybrid series (1600 and 3300 tons) for auto glazing and other large parts. They have an electric-powered rotating center cube platen.
Engel introduced its hybrid Ecodrive technology on its new mid-size two-platen hydraulic machine, the Duo pico, which made its North American debut at NPE. The Ecodrive hybrid injection technology features a servo-driven hydraulic pump and electric screw drive. This option is offered on all hydraulic machine lines and trims energy consumption 45% to 60%. It also provides integrated hydraulics for core pulls, valve gates, mold-mounting systems, and other functions. The Duo pico line currently ranges up to 770 tons.
The new Jupiter series of servo-pump, two-platen machines from Absolute Haitian made their U.S. debut at the show. The line ranges from 1320 to 6600 tons and is said to reduce energy consumption 40% to 80%.
Nissei demonstrated that hybrid electric/hydraulic presses could be used effectively in cleanroom applications as a less expensive alternative to all-electrics. Nissei says all-electrics do provide precise simultaneous functions but hybrids deliver more daylight for larger part molding. Nissei ran two X-Pump hybrid presses (FNX 80 and PNX 40) in a class 3000 cleanroom producing LSR o-rings and trays from Nissei’s Voltiga carbon nanotube compound.
Negri Bossi showed its Janus hybrid model at the show for the first time. A Janus VJ 320 produced a 290-g part in a 29.5-sec cycle. The direct-drive, servo-electric clamp and plasticating unit are matched with a “smart pump” hydraulic system with optional gas accumulator for injection, carriage movement, and core pull/ejector. This combination allows simultaneous movement of clamp, screw, and ejector. Pricing is about 10% to 15% lower than all-electrics with only slightly higher energy consumption. Models range from 180 to 935 tons and will eventually reach 1650 tons.
Sodick Plustech said its newest 60-ton LA60 hybrid two-stage machine for production of small parts in high cavitation has improved platen parallelism down to 8 microns, vs. 15 microns previously. Machine control is also said to be improved.
NEW IML SYSTEMS
A special IML system at CBW Automation combined a 175-ton Netstal Elion press and a roll-fed cut-in-place label system to produce IML containers without using precut labels. The roll-fed system cuts the label to shape and size at the molding unit, using generic PP film as thin as 45 microns, which saves about 35% in overall cost savings. Label cutting at the mold means 100% single label pick-up (pneumatic), and the web scrap is said to cost much less than a precut label. There’s also no need for an antistatic label pinning device.
Also in the CBW booth was a Husky HyPAC 300 RS 80/65 system running precut IML on an 11-g salsa container in four cavities and less than 3.7 sec.
Wittmann Battenfeld also showed label cutting at the machine with one of its IML systems on the new “Insider Solution.” This option for machines up to 330 tons integrates the press with robot, conveyor, and any other pre- or post-molding automation and full guarding. This occupies up to 50% less floorspace and eliminates the cost of separate guarding. Closer placement of the conveyor reduces robot strokes and cycle time. This system was shown molding and labeling a pipe fitting with an overmolded TPE gasket—reportedly a first. Printed labels on a roll were pulled through the mold, where a punch cut out the label.
In a separate demonstration, Wittmann Battenfeld used its new TM Xpress high-speed toggle press together with its IML system to mold a square, 22-g, 750-ml PP container with a five-sided butterfly precut label in a 4.3 sec.
Toshiba showed a turnkey IML system for the first time at NPE, mating a 180-ton all-electric EC180NII press with IML technology from Imdecol of Israel. The machine is said to deliver injection rates up to 75% faster than competitive models while trimming energy usage up to 80%.
Arburg showed IML and in-mold assembly in one mold to produce a labeled and finished toy race car made of six ABS parts and a label in a single production process. The key was a complex double-cube mold from Electroform. The twin rotating turrets mold and snap together the top, bottom, and four wheels of the race car. The part ran on an Arburg 165-ton Allrounder 520 A in a cycle time under 15 sec, about 9 sec faster than a similar Electroform demonstration tool ran at NPE 2006. The higher speed was due to use of one hot-runner system instead of two, modification to the mold for faster open/close, and use of three servo motors to turn the cubes and assemble the parts, functions that were previously hydraulic. The Electroform stack mold consists of two adjacent four-sided cubes that rotate 90°, one facing the rear of the machine and the other facing the moving platen. The car body with label is molded in cube 1, while the underbody and four wheels are produced in cube 2 and snap-fitted to form the chassis. An Arburg Multilift V robot inserted the label and removed the finished car.
Milacron introduced a new line of injection presses for In-Line Compounding (ILC) of long glass. Milacron joined with Composite Products Inc. (CPI) of Winona, Minn., to provide complete systems for CPI’s patented Direct-Long Glass technology, which Milacron calls MGic. Through a new arrangement, Milacron will be the single equipment source for CPI’s Advantage process for direct long-glass processing. It uses Milacron’s MG line of presses with two single-screw extruders, one to melt the resin and another to combine the melt with precut glass and then extrude a “log” which can be robotically transferred to an injection barrel or compression mold. Also, two melt accumulators can each hold a 30-lb shot. Milacron says glass loadings up to 50% can be used with glass lengths of 0.5 to 1 in. Milacron says the process is 30% faster than other IMC technologies, and requires 20% lower investment.
Nissei used a special Pulp Injection Molding machine it first showed last year at the IPF show in Japan to demonstrate that machine’s ability to handle bioplastic materials. A 121-ton all-electric NEX 110-18EPI press molded thin (2.2-mm) plates using a PLA material from Cereplast. It produced the plate from a 130-g shot in a single cavity in a 25-sec cycle. The press used a low-compression screw and Nissei’s automatic clamp-force correction of the toggle mechanism.
Engel demonstrated production of larger lightweight parts using its core-back expansion molding process developed in partnership with Trexel. A 1000-ton duo two-platen unit produced an automotive door panel every 60 sec using Ticona’s Celstran long-fiber compound and Trexel’s MuCell microcellular process. The platen or core is opened precisely to allow part expansion, creating a lower-density part with high stiffness. Engel’s closed-loop platen parallelism control adjusts clamping pressure individually on each of the four corner tiebar clamps to maintain part thickness uniformity. Engel achieved a 50% reduction in density but five-fold greater stiffness.
Kortec introduced a new multi-layer technology designed as a replacement for glass and metal in thin-wall containers for single-serve food applications. The new packages are injection molded in a three layer structure with a barrier EVOH layer between inner and outer PP layers. Kortec’s Multilayer ThinWall approach is also an alternative to thermoforming. Kortec provides an entire pretested ThinWall cell.
Boy’s new XS and XSV line of super-compact horizontal and vertical injection machines come with 14-mm or 12-mm reciprocating screws (said to be the world’s smallest) and a special runnerless nozzle. They handle shot volumes as small as 8 cc.
Engel introduced to North America its first all-electric e-max unit equipped to run LSR. The 110-tonner has a special screw and barrel, spring-loaded check assembly, and electrically driven injection and carriage movement. Engel says the LSR option is offered for all machines in its line-up. The valve-gated system produced a silicone boot in a 16-cavity mold every 28 sec.
More details were revealed on the new J85AD-60H all-electric press for LSR from JSW. The unit is said to provide low-speed, low-pressure injection control (down to 4 mm sec with 0.01-mm positioning accuracy) and has a mold heat controller, shutoff nozzle, and vacuum setting and recovery software. Its High Accuracy Volume Control (HAVC) uses a check ring with a reverse seal to minimize shot variation. Its Syscom 3000 controller reportedly has response speeds of 62 micro-sec.
Arburg demonstrated its 220-ton Allrounder 570 A in overmolding thermoplastic outlet valves with LSR tubing for coffee machines. The 14.5-g part is produced in a cycle time of 45 sec using a 4+4 cavity split mold from Elmet. The Ultem PEI valve is molded first then adhesion treated by a UV lamp integrated into the press. Then the rotary tool indexes and the hydraulic core moves the part to the lower station where the LSR tube is overmolded. An Arburg robot takes the part to an assembly station where a filter nozzle is inserted into the open end of the LSR tube and pressed into the correct position by a lifting cylinder. The part is then taken to a final station for a pressurized leak test. Arburg’s Selogica control manages the entire process. (More new LSR capabilities from Boy, Engel, Negri Bossi, and Nissei were reported in the June NPE preview.)
More productivity with less energy consumption and capital investment; more operations in the machine or manufacturing cell with less time, labor, energy, and capital—these were the common themes of injection molding exhibits at October’s K 2013 show.
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