Canadian Plastics

Simply Incredible

Injection molding...

December 1, 2004   By Michael Legault



Injection molding

Arburg introduced its 270 Allrounder 270 U, a line of machines it is billing as the big brother to the Allrounder 170 U the company brought out last year. The fully hydraulic Allrounder U machines feature a modular design which allows optimization of clamping force, injection unit size and screw diameter, depending on the application.

The Allrounder 270 is designed with a distance of 270 mm between tiebars and is available in clamping forces of 250, 350 and 400 kN. The Allrounder U machines feature an optional pivotal clamping unit that can be configured in four different working positions. Options include: injection unit and clamping unit in the horizontal position; injection unit positioned vertically, and clamping unit horizontally; mold clamping unit and injection unit both positioned vertically; finally, the injection unit horizontal and the clamping unit vertical.

The company also extended its Alldrive electric machine series with the introduction of the new 320 A machine. The machine has an internal distance of 320 mm between tie bars and is available with clamping forces of 500 kN and 600 kN. Arburg introduced the Alldrive (A) electric machine series, which features a combination of servo-electric and hydraulic drive axes, at the 2001 K Show with the 420 A.

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Great Britain-based MCP Tooling Technologies Ltd. introduced the first machine in a new line of micro-molding machines, the MiniMolder 12/90HSE. The clamp, screw and injection modules all incorporate independent servo electric drives to provide fast, responsive parameter profiling. Changeover time in the two-stage injection head is on the order of 10 milliseconds. Tests have shown mold close and open speeds of 250 mm/sec, a 54% improvement compared with other machines, according to the company.

Cincinnati Milacron launched a new line of large two-platen machines. The first unit, the Maxima 3900, is the largest standard model in the new line. It features a 17,200 g injection unit, 3400 mm clamp stroke, and maximum daylight of 4200 mm. The machine is capable of delivering short cycle times with 760 mm/sec clamp speed and 0.98 sec. tonnage build. It is being targeted for the production of large automotive and truck components. Ron Hertzer, chief engineer for Milacron, emphasized that the design of the Maxima readily accommodates two injection units for co-injection or multi-material molding. The machine’s large daylight capability accepts spin-stack molding applications.

Boy laid claim to what may be the smallest part ever injection molded. The company featured a Boy 12 A, 129 kN machine with a two-cavity mold molding miniature toothed wheels weighing 0.0009 g. A plasticating unit with a 12 mm diameter precisely reproduces dosing of extremely small injection volumes down to 0.09 cubic centimeters. A shot size of 0.0985 g was used to produce the part. Dwell time of the material in the plasticating unit is reduced by 50% compared to a 14 mm plasticating unit, resulting in less thermal stress in the material.

LWB Steinl displayed its unique line of vertical injection machines used for the molding of rubber and TPE parts, frequently in applications involving insert or overmolding of metal parts. The machines have a telescoping clamping system, which provides ergonomic, optimized operating heights. The operating height of the company’s 450-ton machine, with a clamp stroke of 750 mm, is below 1000 mm. The machines are equipped with a graphics-based Flex control panel for easy set-up and data storage.

Engel featured its new macPACK machine series at the show. The company displayed a 330/125 (1250 kN of clamping force) macPACK machine molding a serving cup from polypropylene with a cycle time of 2.9 sec. Walter Jungwirth, president of Engel North America, acknowledged stiff competition for the ‘yoghurt cup’ market, but believes Engel can compete effectively in the industry.

“We feel we offer a better price/performance ratio than other machines,” said Jungwirth. “We are bringing new meaning to this area.”

Jungwirth also said Engel will be competitive in helping customers design and integrate complete production cells, a trend in the packaging industry. He singled out the high-speed machine series as one of the products likely to have an impact in the Canadian market.

Demag Plastics Group debuted its new large injection molding machine series, the Titan. The Titan series is intended to complement, and eventually replace, the company’s two-platen large machine Caliber series. The first model, the Titan 1100 (1100 tons of clamping force), will be followed by the Titan 2000 and Titan 1600, which will be available in early 2005.

Battenfeld launched a new version of its all-electric EM injection molding machine. The redesigned machine is the result of cooperation between Battenfeld and Ferromatik Milacron. Under a cooperative business arrangement, Battenfeld purchases certain unspecified components from Ferromatik and then manufactures the machines using its own controls. Battenfeld said the arrangement allows it to lower the cost of the all-electric EM line, which it first introduced in 1992. The series is available in machine sizes ranging from 300 to 1800 kN in clamping force. At the show, Battenfeld displayed an EM1000/210 machine molding polypropylene pipette tips in a 32-cavity mold.

Husky Injection Molding Systems ran its Tandem Molding System on a Quadloc machine to produce the left and right door panels for the Renault Megane. Husky indicated it eventually planned to extend the rotating platen concept used in Husky’s PET Index machine to a Quadloc Tandem machine. The new machine, called the Quadloc Tandem Index (QTI), rotates cores after injection, allowing the third side to be used for secondary operations, such as painting or part insertion, according to Pierre Viaud-Murat, senior marketing analyst for Husky.

Husky is currently running a 3150-ton QTI-machine in molding trials for a customer.

“We’re developing this machine in response to customers’ and OEMs’ needs to reduce costs,” said Viaud-Murat. “We hope to have this commercial soon.”

Read on North American injection molding market—improving

Most exhibitors of injection molding machinery at this year’s K Show reported improved sales in the North American market and the prospects for growth in the NAFTA region much improved in comparison to the last few years.

Ron Brown, president and CEO of Milacron, said growth of injection sales in the U.S. market is “steady and accelerating”. Worldwide, Milacron’s injection molding machinery sales have grown 10% in the last year, a pace Brown expects to maintain over the next few years. The North American market has strongly contributed to this growth.

“Our big machinery market in the U.S. is up 20%,” Brown said.

Demag Plastics Group reported a 14.6% increase in worldwide orders, compared to the previous year, and also strong growth in the large machine market in North America.

Walter Jungwirth, president and CEO of Engel North America, likewise sees encouraging signals.

“We see very positive signs of a pick up in the North American market,” said Jungwirth. “Automotive and packaging are two especially strong areas.”

Auxiliaries

The Helios Jetbox precision dryer is a top-mounted or press-side compressed-air dryer integrating the entire control and heating equipment, and is available in four capacity stages: Micro, Normal, Turbo and Jumbo. The drying air supply for the drying heater is provided through three to five parallel valves with various different cross-sections. The valves and sections can be opened and closed individually, resulting in eight to 32 possible volume flow rates. This design enables a material-specific, high- precision volume flow control. The drying capacity or material-specific drying intensity can be pre-selected either by means of four drying programs or with the aid of the integrated data base.

Wittmann introduced its new
, economical 7-series linear robots with the model W721 Compact S3. The W721 Compact line will replace the popular Compact W621 for applications on molding machines with up to 350-tons of clamping force. The W721 units are manufactured in serial production, with a reduced number of options. As a result the W721 Compact robot is priced 20% less than a comparable W621.

The new robots offer a maximum payload of 22 lb. and are equipped with three dynamic servo drives, providing extremely fast and coordinated part removal. Similar to its predecessor, the model W721 is equipped with a moveable kick-stroke axis in order to achieve the most balanced load on the linear guide. All three servo modules are mounted directly on the kick-stroke axis, eliminating the need for an external control cabinet. The robot is equipped with a standard CNC6.2 flexible control system, however customers can optionally order the R7-Teachbox Touch Screen control system used on the company’s 6-Series robot line. Other available options include additional rotary axes, vacuum and gripper circuits, input and output modules and a conveyor indexing option.

Moldflow Corporation’s Moldflow Plastics Insight (MPI) is one of the industry’s most widely-used design analysis tools. The software is highly recognized for its speed and accuracy. The newest version, MPI 5.0, provides users with enhanced functionality for gas-assisted molding, insert molding and two-shot sequential overmolding. An efficient meshing process results in faster and more accurate analysis reports.

On the manufacturing side, Moldflow Plastics Expert (MPX) v3.2 is an advanced control solution for automatic setup, optimization and monitoring of the process window of an injection molding machine. Unlike other control solutions, MPX interfaces with current injection molding machine control technology and provides on-line process correction with technology developed exclusively for the plastics injection molding industry.

AEC, Inc.’s ASD Series dryer features a unique small, efficient design. The series is available in 15, 30 and new 60 cfm sizes, making it the smallest line of dryers offered by the AEC/Material Handling Group.

The dryers’ HiCore design places heating elements within the hollow cores of desiccant canisters, which contribute to the ASD series’ thermal efficiency. Also, the ASD Series is designed to operate with minimal hosing. Standard operating temperature range is 180F to 250F, with an option allowing up to 400F. The dryer features off-the-shelf, easy-to-use, Mitsubishi programmable controllers with optional dew point monitors.

Maguire’s new MaxiBatch Weight Scale Blender (WSB) is rated for throughputs of up to 8,000 lb./hr. and has a batch size of 66 lb., which makes it more than two times larger than the previous largest blender made by the company. The blender accommodates nine removable hoppers for as many ingredients, each hopper incorporating its own dispensing device designed for precise metering in large quantities. As with other Maquire WSBs, ingredients are dispensed sequentially into a weigh chamber; the batch falls into a mixing chamber. The dispensing devices include vertical valves (for resin pellets and regrind) and auger feeders (for powders, granules). Because the hoppers are interchangeable, it is easy to accommodate variations in a batch recipe.

“The share of operating costs accounted for by raw materials typically increases with production throughputs, as does the likelihood that they will be using bulk powders and other difficult-to-meter ingredients,” said Peter Skulski, Maguire sales manager. “The MaxiBatch system enables companies with the greatest volumes to achieve the same exceedingly fine control over ingredient consumption and batch consistency.”

K-Tron’s BSP 150 is the newest model in the company’s bulk solids feeder family. The feeder utilizes positive displacement action to feed free flowing materials with high accuracy, providing uniform discharge, consistent volume and gentle handling. The BSP 150 utilizes four ducts to achieve a wide range of feed rates. Both gravimetric and volumetric versions of this and the earlier two BSP models are available.

Auxiliary interconnectivity on the horizon

The Internet-driven technology that allows processors to monitor and control their injection molding machines from remote locations will eventually be expanded to auxiliary equipment, according to Michael Wittmann, president and CEO of Wittmann.

The company demonstrated its Wittlink program, which facilitates the connection of auxiliary equipment, in real time, to a central server and a network of computers. The program can be accessed through a standard PC with a Web browser. Wittmann demonstrated Wittlink at the K Show by showing how it can be used to change the temperature of a temperature control unit located at the Wittmann Inc. facility in the U.S. The program can also be used to interface with robots, dryers, granulators and other equipment.

In essence, Wittlink is a high-layered communication suite that supports and unites a variety of communication protocols. The system is capable of interfacing with devices and equipment supplied by manufacturers other than Wittmann. Security access and rules are defined by the customer. When linked to a server the system can provide process data to any number of clients, or be configured to transmit error messages or important changes in operating status by e-mail or to enabled devices such as cell phones or Blackberries.

Michael Wittmann said that Wittlink is currently not for sale, rather it is viewed as an on-going development that the company intends to fine-tune through interaction and feedback from customers.

Extrusion/Blown film

TIME-SAVING WINDER SEEING BRISK SALES

As a result of logistic problems, Davis-Standard had to scratch its plans to exhibit a re-designed 4,400 mm (180 in.) Culisse winder. Nonetheless the winder, which saves time and money by slitting and winding in-line, rather than in separate steps, is still proving popular with customers. The company has delivered 15 of the winders to customers in North America and Europe in the last 18 months, according to Crompton, Davis-Standard business manager, blown film, cast film, Chris Barton.

The Culisse is capable of in-line slitting to widths of 75 mm across a 3,000 mm web at speeds up to 600 m/min. The winder had been redesigned for the K Show. New elements include redesigned mechanical parts, and a control system that simultaneously controls both web tension and lay-on pressure. The winder is being used in applications involving multi-slit hygiene film, PE film packaging, specialized multi-layer barrier film, and others, according to Barton.

Cincinnati Extrusion has extended its Alpha series of single-screw extruders for custom profile applications with four new models featuring either coarse-grooved or fine-grooved feed zones. The Alpha 45-28F and Alpha 60-28F are fine-grooved and well suited to processing soft materials such as TPE and TPU; while the Alpha 45-28G and 60-28G models are coarse-grooved and ideal for the manufacturing of profiles and tubing from polypropylene, with or without filler content.

Cincinnati also launched a new line of downstream aggregate equipment for pipe and profile extrusion. The Alpha Tubeline consists of Alpha extruders plus downstream equipment for the production of tubes up to 63 mm in diameter. The Alpha Profline features Alpha extruders plus downstream equipment designed for the manufacturing of small, hard profiles that cannot be wound.

Leistritz’s new shaft system, maXXshaft, is a “shaft-element-joint” that provides higher free volume of the screw with increased torque. Gunther Rduch, managing director of Leistritz, said, “With maXXshaft, new horizons in terms of transferable torque and flight are in sight. An increase in performance of 25 to35% is a very cautious calculation.”

Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik featured its BEX 1-90-30 D single screw extrude
r for high-performance production of polyolefin pipe. The extruder, which comes with a VSI lattice basket die, provides an average increase of 25% in throughput, without changing screw diameter. The single-screw extruder on display at the show, which had a 90 mm screw, had a maximum output of between 750 and 850 kg/h.

Materials

The purSonic sound system is the first indoor acoustic system that uses walls and ceilings, instead of external speakers, as sources of sound. The heart of the system is the purSonic Soundboard, which is manufactured from a special grade of foamed polyurethane supplied by Bayer MaterialScience. The soundboards are integrated directly into the wall, where they are then covered by the desired wall surface–wall paper, plaster or other finishing materials.

The sound system was demonstrated at the K Show. Bayer MaterialScience officials said the company tested several hundred different types of materials to find the one with the best combination of sound transmission and structural strength. The company said the size, shape and hardness of the foamed cell are the keys in making soundboards with the proper blend of acoustic and structural properties. The first applications for the soundboards are expected to be conference facilities

Dow Chemical expanded the offering of its subsidiary, Inclosia Solutions, a business unit formed to help OEMs enhance the appearance of consumer electronic products. Inclosia’s EXO wood and EXO metal are the latest additions to its EXO overmolding system, a technology platform targeted at the high-volume manufacturing of handheld electronic devices such mobile phones and PDAs.

The two new offerings compliment EXO fabric and EXO leather overmolding systems launched in 2003.

Dow also introduced a new series of ABS resins, Magnum Shield, with superior impact resistance at low temperatures. The new resins are ideal for high-impact sheet applications such as caravans, ski-boxes, snowmobiles and super-tough luggage. Magnum Shield resins can also be co-extruded with PMMA and other weatherable materials for use in applications where high gloss and long-lasting finishes are demanded.

Chevron Phillips Chemicals highlighted a real world application in order to demonstrate the feasibility of using its Xtel PPS-based alloys in the manufacture of water pump impellers. The company worked with Italian mechanical design firm, Ciarnelli Sfera, to spread the use of plastic impellers to after market manufacturers. Sfera’s impellers used to be made of metal, which is heavy and puts stress on the bearing. Most metals also eventually oxidize. The Xtel XK Series used for the impellers are high performance PPS-alloys developed to provide a combination of mechanical and electrical properties, along with excellent flow in thin walls, low flash characteristics and fast cycle times.

Wacker Silicones has developed a new polymer that incorporates silicone and thermoplastic in a single monomer unit. Previous silicone-based elastomers were made in two components. The novel hybrid polymer, given the trade name Geniomer, is a polydimethylsiloxane urea copolymer. It combines the properties of silicone and thermoplastic, and can be molded on standard injection molding or extrusion equipment. The material has good elasticity and high transparency. Company officials said Geniomer is initially being targeted for medical applications, coatings and possibly as a processing aid. Its high transparency also means it might have use in fibre optic applications.

“It means the polymer can be melted and molded. It also means it has higher purity than two-component thermoplastic silicone, which gives superior transparency.”

The company said it intends to work with customers and others interested in finding new uses for the polymer.

Lanxess has assumed the nylon, polyester, rubber and additives portfolios of its former parent company Bayer. At K, Lanxess featured a number of new applications, and at least one entirely new product–three grades of Pocan polyester designed for making molded interconnect devices (MIDs) using a laser direct structuring process develop by LPKF Laser & Electronics AG. The material contains a specific organometallic compound that allows a laser to “draw” a high-resolution circuit layout on the surface. The parts are then plated in a copper bath. Compared with current production methods for MIDs, LDS is less expensive, Lanxess officials said.

Lanxess also introduced EasyFlow grades of Durethan B (PA 6) polyamides, with a 22% improvement in flow properties. Tests have shown that intake manifolds produced using Durethan EasyFlow can be injection molded at a melt temperature of 250 to 285C, compared to 280 to 315C required for comparable polyamides. The lower temperature results in cycle times that are 15% shorter.

Lanxess will operate two production facilities in Canada, a fibre/textile plant in Montreal, and a rubber facility in Sarnia.

In the case of power tools, Technyl’s improved stiffness brings better structural characteristics to parts and improves screw retention, eliminating the need for inserts and resulting in better assembling performance.

Technyl SI is produced via an innovative patented polymer modification technology, resulting in a highly effective impact modification to the end material. “The higher stiffness of Technyl SI can allow designers to reduce part weight by reducing wall thickness, without losing structural and impact performance,” said Alejandro Zarate, marketing manager at Rhodia.

Rhodia also announced the launch of Technyl XT, a new range of modified polyamide 6 designed for high-output extrusion applications. The first commercial grade, Technyl C 502XT, is a general-purpose material targeted for corrugated pipe and conduit applications.

DuPont formally launched a new range of ‘superstructural’ engineering thermoplastic vulcanizate (ETPV) resins. Announced earlier at a pre-K Show press event, the ETPV resin family includes three new long-fibre-reinforced Zytel PA 66 grades, five short-fibre-reinforced and one long-fibre-reinforced Zytel HTN high performance combinations, and also Zytel CDV805, a new toughened PA 66 reinforced with carbon/glass fibre.

Key features of the ETPVs are very high stiffness and strength combined with excellent creep and fatigue resistance. The resins are targeted for structural automotive components, chassis parts for electrical/electronic equipment, power tools, furniture, sporting goods and other applications.

Next-generation data storage technology based on new type of polycarbonate

Bayer MaterialScience is developing a technology that promises to vastly increase the amount of data storage capacity in computers and other electronic devices. The new technology is based on holographic encoding and retrieval in a new type of polycarbonate molecule. The molecule is made with side chains oriented in the “up” and “down” position, which in turn correspond to bits of data, according to Dr. Constantin Schwecke, manager, new business, Creative Center, Bayer MaterialScience. The data can be “scanned” in much the same way as a barcode, although at much smaller scale. Schwecke said the physical form of a data-storage device made from the polymer could be a card or a CD with the potential of storing terabytes of data, much greater than present-day storage discs capable of holding mega- or gigabytes of data.

Schwecke said the technology is some years away from full commercialization, but “not many”.

“We are working with certain customers, and we have a road map to get this into the market,” he said.

Blow Molding

NEW MACHINES RAISE BAR FOR BOTTLE PRODUCTION

SIG Coroplast has launched its new Blomax 24 Series III family of stretch-blow machines for PET bottle production. Based on its Blomax 20 series machine, the new machine is capable of producing up to 43,200 bottles per hour, an increase of nearly 10,000 bottles per hour compared to the 20 series. The in
crease in capacity comes with no increase in the machine’s footprint, according to Dr. Olaf Weiland, managing director, SIG Coroplast GmbH & Co.

Weiland noted that substantial future growth in the carbonated segment of the market depended on new PET barrier technologies being introduced in smaller single-serve containers.

SIG Coroplast has joined forces with Schott AG to form Schott SIG Barrier Technologies GmbH. The new company, with headquarters in Mainz, Germany, will develop and manufacture coating modules for use in beverage filling machines. The primary objective behind the joint venture is to develop new methods of coating plasma and supply SIG Coroplast with Plasma Impulse Chemical Vapor Deposition (PICVD) coating components for use in food packaging. PICVD was a technology that Schott originally developed to coat and refine glass. SIG will manufacture coating modules for a commercial coating facility, Plasmax, located in Mainz.

Automa S.p.A. has introduced a new machine controller, the A3MC, which stands for Automa Advanced Architecture Machine Controller. The controller interface is a 15 in. color touch screen monitor located on a swivel arm at the right front of the machine. Data entry is accomplished with user-friendly icons located on the monitor screen. Operators can set all process parameters, such as temperature profiles, timers, proportional movements and parison thickness control, by a simple click on the appropriate icon.

Automa also launched a new machine model, the Apex AT 255D, on which the A3MC controller comes as a standard feature. The new model is based on the Plus AT 07D machine, with many of the same features; however the new model’s horizontal stroke has been increased to permit the use of larger molds. At K the machine ran a 2 x 2 cavity mold producing a “soft touch” cosmetic bottle in a two-layer configuration.

Heins PCM’s DF4000 Deflash unit can be adapted to the specific needs of individual customers. Bottles can be manually fed into the unit or the unit can be inserted into the production line. The deflash mechanism can handle containers as small as 10 oz., and as large as 10 gal. A scrap conveyor can be located below the bottles to catch flash and transport it out of the machine.

The machine comes with a standard clamp force of 160 kN, with an option to upgrade to 200 kN. Standard mold width/horizontal stroke is 500/520 mm. Pneumatic deflashing trimmers are laterally fastened to the molds. Pneumatic bottle take-out in the deflashing station is carried out by vacuum suction pads. Bottles are moved backwards and placed onto a straight bottle conveyor running across the extruder axis.

The UMS 16.D is capable of producing bottles up to 15L in volume. At the K Show the machine demonstrated the production of 500 ml HDPE trigger bottles in 3 x 3 cavities at 125 mm centers at an output of 1,800 bottles per hour. CPL

Auto Glazing Reaches Critical Stage in Commercialization

Battenfeld, together with partners Summerer Technologies and Exatec, demonstrated the production of large car windows made from polycarbonate in a work cell based on Battenfeld’s IMPmore (In-Mould Pressing) injection compression process. A first-hand look at the work cell in action at the show revealed the specific technological strides that have been made in auto glazing in the last few years, as well as where it is headed.

The 1 sq. m non-production windshield was molded on a Battenfeld HM 20000/19000 injection molding machine featuring a “hinged” core. The hinged core is the key to the injection-compression process and its ability to produce a stress-free part. The melt is injected under low pressure; as the mold begins to fill, the hinged core slowly straightens from the hinged position to close the mold. In-mold pressure across the 4 mm-thick windshield is kept below 200 bar, and the cycle time is 70 sec.

According to Thomas Betts, Battenfeld of America Midwest regional manager, one of the key benefits afforded by the injection-compression process is the lowering of required press tonnage. “The size of this part would normally require a 4000-ton machine. We’re able to mold it on a 2000-ton machine, and even then we’re only using about 1,500 tons of clamping force in the actual process.”

Betts said a two-component machine will be used to mold a 1.5 sq. m sunroof for a 2005 production vehicle. The machine, which is in the final stages of testing, has two injection units mounted opposed to one another. The first injection unit shoots polycarbonate into the window mold using the injection-compression method. The mold rotates 180 degrees on a rotary table and the second unit injects a black polycarbonate “casing” around the perimeter of the window.


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