NPE2009 report: Your post-show wrapup

By PlasticsToday Staff
Published: September 21st, 2009

Held during what will be recorded as the worst recession in decades, June’s NPE2009 trade show in Chicago generated its fair share of heated discussion, with some industry experts arguing there was no cause to spend money on an exhibition in such a tough market while others were just as convinced that it was exactly the sort of statement the industry needed to make. The show was combined with the SPE’s Antec and a host of other conferences and events, which some saw as a great more-bang-for-my-buck opportunity; others believed that too much choice diluted the impact of NPE, and especially Antec.

No matter where you stand on those issues, there is no question that the show exhibitors brought an incredible array of technology to the Windy City, technology offering processors a way to move well ahead of their peers. We devote this NPE Showcase to some of those many new developments and wish you success in finding the materials and equipment your company needs. You can also find more Web Exclusive bonus content here.


Materials and additives

Beyond PET, Invista 
now offering PA66 too
As its noncompete agreement with DuPont is ending, PET supplier Invista (Wichita, KS) announced at NPE it has thrown its hat into the nylon 6/6 supply ring, and reckons it has a good chance of taking market share from more established engineering thermoplastics suppliers. The firm’s portfolio already included nylon fiber, and Kurt Burmeister, executive VP of the company’s new engineering polymers business unit, said at NPE that his firm bases its expectation on its lack of any legacy materials. “We’re taking a more focused approach by creating a simplified portfolio of products, each with the ability to perform in numerous applications,” Burmeister said, with target markets including automotive, electrical/electronics, and consumer goods, among others. Initial grades will include some offering low viscosity, and Burmeister said the company has established relationships with a number of compounders around the world to compound the materials (the company would not name those compounders, nor would he quantify the supplier’s PA66 capacity). He also said that Invista would be able to offer grades with postindustrial recycled content. Invista, 
www.invista.com

Replace petro-based plastics 
with no loss of properties
That, said Marsha Clark, global business director for renewably sourced materials at supplier DuPont (Wilmington, DE), is the truly big deal with the company’s new range of materials based on renewable resources. Three product lines—Sorona EP, Hytrel RS, and Zytel 6/10 and 10/10—are offered, with the Zytel 10/10 material 100% based on renewably sourced materials. Hytrel RS grades can be dropped into applications now running petrochemical-based Hytrel with no drop-off in properties, she said. Sorona EP processes like PBT but has lower warpage and is stronger, she said; 15% and 30% glass-fiber-reinforced versions are available and an unreinforced version is on the way. “We’re getting very strong market pull (for these materials), even in this economy,” she added. The three material ranges primarily will compete with engineering thermoplastics in injection molded technical applications. The supplier also offers its Biomax materials for packaging applications (molded and thermoformed) and Biomax additives to boost PLA’s thermal stability and strength without hindering its biodegradability. DuPont, www.dupont.com

PC copolymers, sustainability, 
and much more
Executives at Sabic Innovative Plastics (Pittsfield, MA) have plenty on their plates, including development of new polycarbonate-based copolymers, according to Thomas Stanley, VP technology. Some recently developed include a grade of Lexan PC with higher flow, better ductility, and even some of the BPA replaced with alternate bisphenols; and Lexan EXL, which has silicone incorporated into it to help with low-temperature ductility and fatigue resistance.

Stanley said sustainability of course remains a huge issue for the supplier, which has done its part internally by improving the efficiency of its own plants. The company is working on bioplastics and others based on renewable resources, he said, though also noting that plastics’ sustainability can be most improved via greater recycling, and ensuring that materials can be recycled. One ongoing development involves the firm’s ecoFR benign flame-retardant additives for use in thin-wall molded, transparent PC parts. On display at the stand was Motorola’s W233 Renew mobile phone, which includes parts made from Lexan EXL 8414 PC containing up to 25% postconsumer recycled (PCR) content from discarded water bottles.

Recently released and quite novel is Noryl MX90, a low-molecular-weight PPO that can be incorporated into thermoset plastics such as BMC or epoxy to bring additional heat and dimensional stability to these materials. Sabic Innovative Plastics, www.sabic-ip.com

Replacing trade-offs with 
new developments
That is how Phil Wilson, new business development manager, engineering plastics, at BASF Corp. (Wyandotte, MI), describes BASF’s development program: “Find where people are making a trade-off, and then we develop a material for that.” Automotive oil pans are one example he cited, which were on display at the company’s NPE booth. “Optimizing these for stone impact tests was the big hurdle, but we beat aluminum hands down,” he commented, adding that additional plastic oil pans are in development beyond the handful already commercial.

Wilson said that during NPE, and in general, processors’ and OEMs’ concerns often include high temperature resistance and it is an area to which BASF devotes considerable developmental effort. Sustainability also plays a huge part and it often combines itself with heat stability, noted Marianne Morgan, power train and fuel systems marketing, engineering plastics. Head covers are transitioning in the U.S. from metal to plastics, she said, and noted, “When the 35-mpg CAFÉ was announced, our phone started ringing off the hook.” BASF, www.basf.com

Custom compounder 
pushes into bioplastics
Custom compounder Teknor Apex (Pawtucket, RI) not only is developing bio-based colorants for use with bioplastics, but also has the exclusive global license for an extrusion processor for producing a thermoplastic starch—so it’s a bioplastic that also is a true thermoplastic, able to be remelted and reused, according to Jonathan Fain, the company’s president and CEO. This is especially important for recycling purposes in applications where, for instance, a standard petrochemical-based thermoplastic is mixed with the starch-based one. “We intend to be global with this,” commented Fain on the company’s growth strategy, adding that the company also will consider sublicensing the technology to large end users. The starch-based plastic is limited in that it can only be mixed with a matrix material that processes at 400ºF or less. Teknor Apex, www.teknorapex.com

Evonik’s range keeps 
growing, improving
Plastics supplier Evonik Degussa Corp. (Parsippany, NJ) took a number of new materials to the NPE stage, including its improved Vestamid E polyamide 12 elastomers, which find favor in a number of molded shoe sole applications where the material’s shock absorption comes in especially handy. Evonik also introduced a PA12-based powder that can be used in rapid prototyping or rapid manufacturing equipment—for instance, in laser sintering of spare or unique parts.

Also on display were a range of Vestakeep PEEK-based materials for medical applications. Evonik, www.evonik.com

On the safe side with TPE
Thermoplastic elastomers supplier Kraiburg TPE Corp. (Duluth, GA) introduced its Thermolast M product range of TPEs for the medical market. Five different compounds are available in the range, with production of each done on an extruder dedicated to medical grades at the company’s German headquarters and with customers given a minimum of a two-year delivery guarantee. The Thermolast M compounds already meet the relevant DIN and USP standards for the medical market. Kraiburg anticipates its new materials will find favor in molding of seals, diaphragms, valves, and other parts where a hard/soft material combination will come in handy. The compounds are suitable for gamma sterilization and autoclaving with steam heated to up to 134ºC. Kraiburg TPE, www.kraiburg-tpe.com

New opaque copolyesters aiming at GPS, PDA, other housings
The new family of Edgetek XT High Performance Blends that PolyOne Corp. (Cleveland, OH) was featuring in its NPE booth comprises a range of opaque grades based on Eastman’s Tritan copolyester, and, says PolyOne, is well-suited to handheld devices like GPS and Smartphone systems that demand aesthetically pleasing yet durable housings.

The Edgetek Blends are said to combine exceptional chemical resistance and hydrolytic stability with toughness, high gloss, and easy processing. Craig Nikrant, PolyOne’s general manager of specialty engineered materials, said that the compounds, based on the inherent benefits of Eastman Tritan resin, offer an innovative, effective solution for durable plastic housings. And in addition to performance benefits, the Tritan material is manufactured without bisphenol-A (BPA).

Developing these compounds means that PolyOne now offers processors a broad menu of both clear and opaque grades incorporating the performance features of the Tritan material. On the processing side, PolyOne says the Edgetek compounds have good melt flow rates, and if used to replace polycarbonate, they require minimal retooling because Tritan molds similarly to PC. PolyOne Corp., www.polyone.com

PVC replacement opens doors for SBCs
At Kraton (Houston, TX), CEO/president Kevin Fogarty said his company continues to see opportunities for its materials among customers considering or actively working on PVC replacement. Kraton’s styrenic block copolymer (SBCs) have been designed to ensure ready compatibility with other materials, he said, including high-end thermoplastic matrices, as the Kraton materials almost always see use in compounds.

Kraton also just invested in a new R&D facility, which Fogarty said should help the firm cut its time-to-market for newly developed materials by up to 50%. Work is already under way on development of plastics derived from renewable resources. Kraton, www.kraton.com

DSM Somos creates Chicago 
in stereolithography resins
Chicago, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day, but DSM Somos created the Windy City using its high-performance stereolithography (SL) resins, including WaterShed SC11122, ProtoGen Gray 18920, and Somos 141122, in just seven months. In recognition of the centennial anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s first architectural Plan of Chicago (1909), and to help promote Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the Chicago Architecture Foundation created the first large-scale model of the city of Chicago. The work was unveiled at NPE2009.

Work on the SL project began in November 2008 and was completed in May. Each of the more than 1000 building structures included in the Chicago Model City Exhibition were created largely via the SL process using Somos resins from DSM Desotech (Elgin, IL).

Chicago-based Columbian Model & Exhibit Works, along with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, chose rapid prototyping technology as the best way to create the model. After constructing accurate digital models of the buildings, rivers, and roads, modelers then helped assemble and prepare the data for the SL equipment that would create each part.

“These buildings, made from Somos material, were undeniably the best choice for models of this scale and importance,” said Catherine Tinker of Columbian Model & Exhibit Works. “The buildings have outstanding detail and stability, and are easy to finish and paint.”

In addition to supplying all SL resin needed for the project, DSM joined with Baxter International and Molex, both with manufacturing facilities in the Chicago area, to create each of the building structures used in the model. The Sears Tower (recently renamed the Willis Tower), created by DSM using WaterShed XC resin, stands approximately 35 inches tall and, at a scale of 50 ft:1 inch, is approximately 600 times smaller than the actual structure. The entire city model requires a display area of more than 800 ft2.

Vince Adams, DSM Desotech marketing manager, said, “We are extremely pleased to have been part of this historical project. Not only does it showcase what stereolithography can achieve for the architectural community, but it has allowed DSM to contribute to Chicago’s bid for the 2016 games.” DSM Desotech, www.dsm.com


Injection molding

Engel software offers path 
to energy savings
Injection molding machine manufacturer Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) introduced a software option for its CC200 control that guides operators to choose processing parameters that lead to big-time energy savings of 15%-25% vs. a setup on the exact same machine that was not optimized to account for energy usage of the individual motions. Called the CC200 integrated energy calculator software, the new option is available on all of the company’s machines equipped with its CC200 A02 controls, which were introduced at K 2007.

According to Steve Braig, president and CEO of Engel North America, the calculator offers “guidance for the setup person to adjust parameters—motion parameters, heat zones, and more—to the most energy-efficient settings, without affecting the cycle time.” The energy values are calculated based on oil pressure and volume on hydraulic machines, and motor speeds and torque on all-electric machines.

The operator need only enter the shot weight into the setup screen and the machine will automatically calculate the energy required to process a part based on other settings (clamp motion, injection, cooling, and others). After a few test cycles, the measured values are compared to a database and the energy consumption calculation is provided in a graphic. Engel, www.engelglobal.com

Automation aplenty at Arburg
One of the most attention-grabbing molding cells during NPE proved to be Arburg’s Allrounder 520A (165 tons) mounted with a Multilift V robot from the company and running a mold from Electroform, processing, inmold labeling, and inmold assembling toy cars. The robot was operated from the injection press’s own control. Arburg (Lossburg, Germany) ran five machines, three of them all-electric and four including automation. Another top exhibit was an Allrounder 570A molding a two-component (thermoplastic and silicone) part for coffee machines. UV light irradiation in the mold helped ensure a good seal of the disparate materials.
The company also ran its largest electric molding machine, an Allrounder 720A with 360 tons clamp force, which showed off its thin-walled packaging capabilities by molding lids in a four-cavity tool at just 5.6-second cycles. At the other extreme, Arburg ran a 14-ton Allrounder for micromolding, with the unit processing gear wheels weighing just 0.001g. Arburg, www.arburg.com

Milacron PowerPak takes on packaging applications
Long a somewhat hidden player in the manufacture of molding machinery for the thin-walled packaging market, processing machinery manufacturer Milacron (Batavia, OH) made its presence loud and clear with the introduction of its Power Pak all-electric press at NPE. PowerPak’s power comes in the form of an accumulator on the injection end to give comfort to processors who might not normally consider a hybrid or all-electric for thin-walled packaging. It’s a market segment that the company has long served, said Andy Stirn, market development manager, but now is more clearly targeting. “The PowerPak has its origins in the PowerLine,” he said, referring to the company’s long-established machine range, “but is optimized for packaging, be it thin-walled containers, closures, medical packaging, or even large pails and buckets.”

The machines are available now in clamp tonnages of 440 and 550 tons, with the range to be extended to smaller sizes and as much as 1100 tons. It is available electrically powered on all four of the machine’s axes, or with the ejector and injection portions as hydraulic. Stirn said the manufacturer already has seen considerable interest from processors of plastic cutlery, 1- to 4-gal containers, and from others molding dairy and medical applications. “You don’t need a hydraulic [machine] with every packaging application,” he noted.

Among advances Stirn cited is one that seems simple—a walk-up base design—but will make sense to operators who in the past have had to lean far across a machine to get to a mold; and the Eject Bump, a patent-pending technique to generate higher ejection force. Running molds from potential customers in test trials, he said energy use on the PowerPak machines had been 50%-60% less. Milacron, www.milacron.com

Absolute Haitian broadens its scope with hybrids, electrics
Although the U.S. introduction of Haitian’s Jupiter Series (1500-6000 tons) hybrid two-platen servo-pump injection presses was first on Absolute Haitian’s list at NPE, the presence of a 135-ton Zhafir Venus all-electric machine in the booth evidenced yet another expansion of the company’s American offerings. Zhafir, which is based in Germany, is a wholly owned brand of China-based Haitian International Holdings that  makes only all-electric machines.

The multiple servo pump technology of the Jupiter Series has been proven and accepted on Haitian’s Mars Series injection machines, more than 11,000 of which are installed worldwide, according to the company. Like the Mars machines, the Jupiters are designed to be highly energy efficient.

The Jupiter 12000/8400/j machine working at NPE was the core of a robotically served cell making a thick-walled laundry basket that was popular with show-goers. Absolute Haitian Corp., www.absolutehaitian.com

Small machine specialist 
goes even smaller
Given that Boy Machines Inc. has never offered a molding machine with more than 100 tons of clamp force, it’s logical that the newest Boy premiering at NPE2009 would be its smallest ever. The new Boy XS has an 11-ton clamp, a 12-mm screw, and even with those specs, a small footprint at 9 ft2. That meant Boy could have seven of them in its booth and still have space for a Boy 35A molding LSR key holders, and the company’s largest press, the 99-ton Boy 90E, also making its North American debut. Featuring a servomotor pump that saves up to 50% on energy, cuts noise, and boosts speed and precision, the show model added a real-time energy monitor to visualize its efficiency while running a three-plate, four-cavity cup mold.

Horizontal XS machines take 9 ft2 of floor space, but the vertical XSV, with both clamp and injection unit upright, takes but 7 ft2. One of the XS systems that was molding a very small gear housing also was equipped with an interesting vibratory sprue separator. All nine Boy machines in the booth use Boy’s Procan Alpha Control, whose remote accessibility was demonstrated by reaching through the Internet to a Boy 22A molding parts at company headquarters in Exton, PA. Boy Machines Inc., www.boymachines.com

Beyond great machine systems, 
ways to keep them running
To be sure, Husky had several traffic stoppers at NPE2009. The HyCap beverage closure molding system popping out 72 water bottle closures in 2.5-second cycles was one (more at plasticstoday.com/imm/articles/npe2009-highlights); the HyPET 300 PET system making 72 preforms every 5.5 seconds was another. Husky, however, was emphasizing its total customer support, and at least as much with software and other programs as with hardware. The launch of the Shotscope NX process and production monitoring system is aimed at helping manufacturers minimize scrap and downtime while running a more sustainable operation. Able to monitor machines or ancillary equipment in the shop, the NX is a notable step up for Husky’s existing Shotscope. The user interface is straightforward and the software is now Web-based so information can be gathered from anywhere at any time, and we’re told it’s compatible with any brand of computer equipment. PDAs and webcams work, too.

During NPE Husky also launched its new Pro-Act maintenance program, aimed at improving the molder’s asset availability and performance, both to maximize overall ROI through optimizing efficiency and to maintain the effectiveness over time. Calling Pro-Act a cure for unplanned downtime, Husky VP of marketing Jeff MacDonald said, “We have found that, industry-wide, most systems degrade by up to 17% over 10 years.” To counter that, Pro-Act offers three levels of service. The base level includes an annual assessment and calibration by Husky’s techs. The intermediate level is proactive, with Husky working with customer maintenance staff to optimize machine availability. On the advanced level of proactive maintenance, Husky ensures optimum machine performance so operation-wide maintenance costs can be fixed. Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., www.husky.ca

New line of electrics saves money, among other things

The 1000-ton model of KraussMaffei’s MX Series (800-4000 tons) pushing out PP containers every 28 seconds was hard to ignore. Likewise the fast-cycling hydraulic C3 machine making two-component (PP+TPE) closures in a 16+16 mold every 10 seconds. The TPE was coming through the company’s SP180 bolt-on electric injection unit that can turn almost any machine into a multimolder. But the center of attraction was the new AX Series molding machine (50-350 tons soon; 80, 100, and 180 tons now).

The KraussMaffei LRX 50 linear robot integrated into the frame of the AX 100-180 that was making ABS/PC b-covers in a 9-second cycle showed one of the machine’s array of floor-space-saving features. Energy savings—always a key with electric machines—also is prominent here. KraussMaffei says several engineering features combine to yield 50% and sometimes even 60% more energy efficiency than a comparable modern hydraulic. Water-cooled regenerative converters harvest braking energy.
Back to floor space: since the machine is slim, the safety guard is extended so it can be supplied as a production cell with both the robot and a conveyor inside, all managed by the KraussMaffei MC5 Touch control system. Thanks to standardized connectors, AX machines can use any of the plasticating units from the company’s CX and EX machines. And sweetening the deal, the AX Series is KraussMaffei’s low-priced electric line. KraussMaffei Corp., www.kraussmaffei.com

A hybrid that saves a lot of energy, and takes your phone calls

The all-electric Canbel LSR Series, a 132-ton VE 120-350 that Negri Bossi ran at NPE2009, was making LSR cupcake-baking trays. The series ranges from 55-320 metric tons, and shot sizes from 1-16-plus oz. Negri Bossi says the energy saved molding LSR with this machine can be up to 75%, compared with hydraulics. Canbel design includes all direct drives and fluid-cooled servomotors that make the machines cleanroom-ready.

The big news from Negri Bossi at the show was its new Janus Series (eight models from 160-900 metric tons) of hybrid machines. Direct-drive servo technology handles clamping and screw rotation; a smart-pump hydraulic system runs the injection, ejector/core, and carriage functions. The 350-ton VJ 320-2100, like all machines in the series, featured Negri Bossi’s CANbus interface for connectivity between the control system and the peripherals, digital wireless communication, and the company’s Amico wireless networking. Negri Bossi USA, www.negribossiusa.com

LSR molding, IML packaging, remote monitoring—all in one booth
The three machines in action in the Toshiba booth covered a number of the hottest technologies in the market right now—for example, inmold labeling, LSR molding, and remote molding machine monitoring—and promoted energy efficiency on each machine. A 180-ton Toshiba EC180NII high-speed injection system optimized for packaging, medical, and food applications, which Toshiba claims has injection rates up to 75% faster than competitors, as well as a 1.09-second dry cycle time, was molding very thin-walled containers, with an Imdecol IML system applying color labels to the lid and bottom portions of the containers. Toshiba says the machine’s shot-to-shot consistency lets it achieve reject rates of 3 ppm or fewer.

Besides the IML machine, a 45-ton EC45NII was molding LSR cupcake molds for consumer baking, using a Star robot for part removal and replacement, a Scara robot for stacking, and an RJG eDart System for process control. A 110-ton EC110NII was molding medical parts of Eastman Tritan BPA-free copolyester that weighed only 6g each in an eight-cavity tool with a Priamus monitoring system ensuring consistency.

All three machines were monitored by Toshiba’s recently introduced iPaqet Remote Monitoring System, which consists of server and client software and a V21 Ethernet card, and can keep watch on up to 24 Toshiba machines at once. Working under the Windows OS, an intranet is created between a machine and a user’s laptop or desktop, PDA, or mobile phone. Production, machine data, logs, quality, and more can then be monitored in real time from anywhere. Toshiba Machine Corp., www.toshiba-machine.com

Refining injection takes a Veri-flo
NPE exhibitor Beaumont Technologies (Erie, PA) announced at the show a new Veri-flo service for moldfilling simulation. The company has identified a need for a low-cost solution for upfront comparison of actual molding results with predicted simulation results, which the new service targets. Beumont’s Veri-flo requires 20 lb of the specific material to be sent to the company as a means to benchmark actual molding conditions vs. simulation predictions. This gives Beaumont engineers the ability to collect process and material information, compare the data to the analysis output, and then use this information in the CAE analysis to provide more accurate interpretation of the result files, said John Ralston, engineering manager at the company. “The Veri-flo service offers an advantage for those analyses that must utilize equivalent or substitute materials because the actual material is not characterized in the simulation database,” he said. “Without the actual material characterization data, the accuracy of simulation results is more suspect.” Beaumont Technologies, www.beaumontinc.com

Teaching older machines new tricks
Many molders came to NPE to learn how their established machines could learn some new tricks, commented Takanori Taresawa, president and CEO of Nissei America (Anaheim, CA). Case in point: The company ran two of its servodriven hybrid FNX80-12ALM presses in a cleanroom together during NPE to open processors’ minds to the possibilities the machines offer. He added that his company sees continued solid demand for these hybrid machines as some molders complain that maintenance costs for electric machines can be expensive (for new ballscrews, for example).

He added that Nissei is seeing increased demand among LSR molders for its X-Pump-equipped machines since, during the long cooling cycle associated with the material, the pump is not running and still more energy is saved. Nissei America, www.nisseiamerica.com

New high-speed machine, and molds, and IML—get it here
There was a lot to see at the Wittmann Battenfeld (Torrington, CT) NPE booth, as you’d expect now that those two companies are together. And in this case, one plus one equals more than two. For example, the new high-speed TM Xpress 270/1350 that made its U.S. debut was molding a 750-ml container in polypropylene using a two-cavity mold on a cycle time of 4.7 seconds. An IML system was handling label insertion and removal and placement of the finished containers. The machine, IML automation, and the mold are all supplied by the Wittmann Group, which says it’s the first supplier able to provide a complete high-speed production cell with all these own-branded components.

The synergy was also evident on a Wittmann Battenfeld HM Series machine multimolding a fitting with a seal. The mold was from the Austrian moldmaker IFW, but the automation was a Wittmann W823 four-axis servo robot with a telescopic vertical arm. It was integrated into the machine frame to save floor space and the need for external safety guards, and could be fully operated using the machine’s Unilog B6 control system.

Wittmann Battenfeld was also talking about two developments it will unveil soon. The Microsystem 50 fully integrated, self-contained production cell for molding micro parts in the NPE booth was making two tiny POM cogwheels on 4-second cycles. At the Fakuma show in Germany in October, the next generation of Microsystem will debut, with two clamp sizes, two injection units, and other new modules to extend the system’s product capability. The same show will also see the debut of a completely new line of all-electric injection machines called EcoPower, which also will feature peripherals within the machine frame to save floor space—Wittmann peripherals, that is. Wittmann Battenfeld, www.wittmann-ct.com

Kortec launches thin-wall injection molded barrier containers

Known as a supplier of multilayer preform technology, Kortec (Ipswich, MA) is branching into net-shape parts, launching a new injection molded thin-wall multilayer container technology it will position as a replacement for thermoformed plastic, metal, and glass containers. The company believes the three-layer package (EVOH barrier sandwiched between layers of polypropylene) will offer better aesthetics, faster filling-line speeds, greater part-to-part consistency, and longer shelf life than competitive products. Compared to what Kortec calls a typical five-layer extruded film or sheet that has to be thermoformed, a multilayer injection molded container would result in net-shape parts in only one step. Where this technology will mirror Kortec’s preform systems is in implementation, with Kortec providing a turnkey pretested ThinWall molding cell to the customer.

Russell Bennett, who was recently hired as VP sales and marketing at Kortec, said the move broadens the areas Kortec can target, expanding beyond beverages into foodstuffs. That shift started with the company’s Gamma-Clear technology, which uses clarified oriented polypropylene (OPP) with EVOH barrier for hot-filled or retort food and beverage applications. A Ball Corp. (Broomfield, CO) technology, Kortec is the worldwide distributor outside North America for Gamma-Clear, which it introduced at K 2007.

Bennett said that in addition to thin-wall containers, Kortec is investigating whether the technology would be suitable for closures. The company doesn’t yet know how thin it can go, but is continuing testing on a four-cavity lab-scale line. The company’s multilayer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) preform technology reached 144 cavities, but for this net-shape part, Bennett believes ThinWall will be limited to 32-48 cavities, with the possibility of using a stack mold to increase output. The prospect of injection molded closures with an inherent barrier layer is of particular interest, as a number of closure manufacturers are interested in eliminating the butyl rubber insert currently added in a secondary step to create a barrier. Kortec Inc., www.kortec.com

Wilmington creates dedicated 
pallet molding system
Processing equipment manufacturer Wilmington Machinery (Wilmington, NC) launched a structural foam injection molding machine at NPE2009 that’s purpose-built for the production of plastic pallets from scrap. The Lumina Pallateer can mold pallets from 100% scrap in a variety of styles, including one-way nestable, rackable, and single- and double-deck, among others. Wilmington will offer three systems: PM-1 produces a single deck pallet/cycle for pallets weighing up to 25 lb, with annual production topping 240,000; PM-3 molds two single-deck pallets, or the top/bottom of a double deck, or pallets up to 50 lb per cycle, with output topping 480,000/year for single-deck pallets; and PM-5 can mold one double-deck pallet/cycle for pallets weighing up to 50 lb with throughput of more than 200,000/year. Respective clamp tonnages for PM-1, PM-3, and PM-5 are 300, 500, and 350 tons, with melt capacity ranging from 800-1600 lb/hr.

Wilmington’s Jeff Newman said his company has a number of customers stuck with plastic scrap who were interested in making pallets. To answer the demand, Wilmington created a production cell for pallets designed to optimize output and cost. Key to that effort is a shortened mold stroke, made possible because processors don’t have to worry about the amount of daylight if the machine is running the same mold, or one of similar size. This feature allowed Wilmington to use more economical cylinders and optimize their accumulators for pallet production. Newman said that initially this machine will target buyers outside North America. Wilmington will supply an entire production cell, including a robot for part removal and nitrogen-generation equipment for the foaming. Wilmington Machinery, www.wilmingtonmachinery.com

Extrusion
Leistritz options, small to large
American Leistritz (Somerville, NJ) offered NPE attendees a look at its range from the tiniest to quite large models. The company displayed its ZSE-40 Maxx twin-screw line for the first time in North America. Charlie Martin, GM, noted how visitors were very interested in the company’s options for direct extrusion. The company also demonstrated its Nano-16 extruder, processing micro-batches of just 20g and 100g. The unit has segmented screws and barrels and a control/data acquisition package with a torque-sensor load cell built into the drive train. It replicates operations of larger-scale equipment with a free volume of only 0.9 cc/diameter. American Leistritz, www.leistritz-extrusion.com

Get a handle on waste, 
and know the cost
Precision AirConvey (PAC; Newark, DE) highlighted the inauguration of its new ROI calculator so that its customers, or potential ones, can determine their ROI (return on investment) and the payback time on an automated trim system from PAC for film/sheet. The pneumatic conveying system manufacturer said the ROI calculator considers dozens of input parameters to compare a plant’s current operations to the same facility following a trim-system installation. Variables including the cost impact of a slitter, extruder downtime, raw material and reclaimed waste, waste hauling and disposal, and other manual handling are calculated in terms of labor, time, productivity, and product quality. Precision AirConvey, www.precision
airconvey.com

Efficiency mustn’t mean high prices
An unorthodox machine design has helped Welex (Blue Bell, PA) trim the manufacturing costs of its new Econotruder range of sheet extruders, and it says it is passing the savings to processors to ensure they get maximum efficiency at a hard-to-beat price. The Econotruder features direct drives and a PLC touch-screen interface, and as the name implies, it is priced to sell.
Also new from the company was its HS300, a 3-inch, 40D vented extruder equipped with a 600-hp AC drive. Running at 1500 rpm, this extruder has an output greater than 4000 lb/hr, comparable to a conventional 6-inch 30D machine. Its AC motor drive is directly coupled to its screw. A hollow shaft motor facilitates both screw cooling and easier screw extraction. Welex, www.welex.com

Die head beats mandrel heads 
at lower cost
Medical tubing lines drew the most attention at Boston Matthews (Worcester, England), according to Richard Brookes, marketing manager. “The margins (for processors) are in multilayer tubing,” he said, so the company has devoted significant R&D effort to offering lines for this. “We’ve developed a new five-layer die head for tubing that is much smaller than a mandrel die head and also is lower cost,” he added. Boston Matthews, www.boston-matthews.co.uk

Big results from smaller compounder
Compounding extruder manufacturer Steer (Bangalore, India) took a large stand and made a large splash with its claims (and video to back them up) that its developments in metallurgy (the company has its own foundry) and screw element design have helped it compound what it calls a world-record throughput of 900 kg/hr using a corotating intermeshing Omega H-40 twin screw to compound a 40% talc-filled polypropylene (PP). According to Babu Padmanabhan, Steer’s founder and managing director, the throughput on such a small (40-mm) extruder compares well to that of a 70-mm unit, but at 40%-50% less energy use. The first of these was sold during NPE2009, he added. Steer, www.steerworld.com

MRS makes debut in Americas
For the first time in North America, equipment builder Gneuss (Matthews, NC) featured its Multi Rotation System (MRS) extruder for degassing and devolatilization of plastic melt. Initially shown as a prototype in Düsseldorf during K 2007, the unit is now commercially available. It is based on a single-screw-extruder concept, yet the extrusion drum contains either eight or 10 smaller extruder barrels, parallel to the main screw axis. These small extruder barrels hold the satellite screws, driven by a ring gear in the main barrel. They rotate in the direction opposite to the main screw while also rotating around the main screw axis. This disproportionally increases the surface area exchange rate of the polymer melt by up to 500%, compared to single-screw extruders, to extract emerging gases. It can be used to extrude PET with up to 10,000 ppm/H2O directly without prior drying. Gneuss, www.gneuss.com

Century’s lines find bioplastics favor

The twin-screw extruders manufactured at Century Extrusion (Traverse City, MI) are finding takers in the industry who have an interest in bioplastics, including the Alberta Biomaterials Development Center in Alberta, Canada, which recently took delivery of a machine from the manufacturer.

Century said its equipment is appropriate for processing of biomaterials for a number of reasons, including its ability to process materials of different types and densities. Century Extrusion, www.centuryextrusion.com/century

R&B launches single-screw extruder
Branching out from its supply of private-brand equipment, R&B Plastics Machinery LLC (Saline, MI) launched a single-screw extruder line at NPE2009. The Max line comes in diameters from 1-10 inches and all L/D (length/diameter) ratios. At the show, the company had a 2.5-inch 24:1 L/D system on hand. The company says the line will be able to serve a variety of market sectors, including pipe, profile, tubing, sheet, film, coating, compounding, wire, and cable. Al Hodge, R&B’s VP of sales, told MPW the lines use a double-reduction gearbox from Zambello, and the lines will be supported in the field by 18 direct service providers. R&B Plastics Machinery LLC, www.rbplasticsmachinery.com

Entek customizes lines for biomaterials, adds wear-replacement conical barrels
Extending work done with several key customers and using knowledge gained in its own lab, twin-screw extruder and replacement wear-parts supplier Entek Mfg. Inc. (Lebanon, OR) at NPE2009 introduced customized twin-screw extruders specifically designed for bio-based compounding applications. The company displayed a specially outfitted E-Max 27-mm twin-screw extruder at the show, outfitted with two dry feeders and a liquid feeder for processing a combination of thermoplastics and a bioresin or starch material.

This setup mirrors those used in the field by Entek bioresin-processing customers, and given the growing usage of bio-based materials and fillers, Entek has developed an extruder platform especially configured for three distinct areas: reactive bio-based materials (starch-based materials and plasticizers), bioresin materials (PLA, PHA, etc.), and bio-based blends (bioresins or starches blended with thermoplastics).

To serve these distinct niches, Entek’s specialized line features dry and liquid feeders; atmospheric and vacuum vent combinations; strand, pellet, and sheet dies; a variety of screw options; and downstream equipment to match end-use needs. John Effmann, Entek’s director of sales and marketing, told MPW that work on the company’s lab, where the bioresin products have been optimized, is continuing, with Entek looking to replace a 53-mm extruder currently in the lab and to add downstream equipment as well as a 27-mm extruder.

The company notes that 27-, 40-, and 53-mm twin-screw extruders are the most popular models for bio-based applications, but larger models, including its 73- and 103-mm machines, also see use in these applications.

Entek also announced that its wear-parts business will now offer nitrided and high-wear/corrosion-resistant 64H conical barrels specifically designed for PVC extrusion applications. Effmann said Entek, like many equipment manufacturers, is responding to pull from a market that is keen on keeping existing machines running. “There are lots of old machines in the marketplace,” Effmann said, “and we see a need for replacement parts.”

The company says the 64H conical barrels reportedly offer longer life than standard nitrided barrels, since the inside diameter of Entek’s conical barrels feature 0.150-inch material thickness compared to the typical maximum thickness of nitrided barrels of 0.015 inch. The company says this added thickness has been proven out in independent lab tests showing almost four times the wear resistance and five times the corrosion resistance of standard nitrided barrels. Entek Mfg. Inc., www.entekextruders.com

Parkinson slitter/rewinder is both tricked out and economical

Parkinson Technologies (Woonsocket, RI), a production-scale web processing machinery supplier, introduced an all-new slitter/rewinder at NPE2009 targeting small to midsize converting operations with its ability to handle a range of materials at high productivity levels. The Genesis 700 was described by Parkinson as affordable and feature-rich, counting a human machine interface (HMI) with full PLC controls; web-tension optimization to suit a variety of materials; razor and rotary-shear slitting; and a pre-engineered design that can accept numerous options among its features.

The center-driven duplex slitter/rewinder has an integral unwind, resulting in a smaller footprint, and the electrical panel is integral to the machine, making for simpler installation, which the company says it has cut from days to hours. The system can store 99 recipes, and the control’s maintenance screen can track preventive maintenance issues on weekly or monthly intervals, with operators also able to see the time and place alarms occurred. Parkinson Technologies Inc., www.parkinsontechnologies.com

CMD takes drawtape bag-making system, high-speed winder to Chicago
Plastic converting equipment supplier CMD (Appleton, WI) used NPE2009 to respond to what it calls an increase in worldwide demand for consumer-friendly drawtape-style trash bags. The company ran the Model 1270GDS Global drawtape bag-making system and the Model 0330HSW high-speed winder in the South Hall, with the patented winder debuting at McCormick. The system allows wound bags to be connected by perforations or be separated and overlapped onto the previous bag. Servodriven, the winder produces coreless rolls at up to 30 cycles/min. The system can also eliminate the need for outer packaging with an optional roll-banding feature.

The Global Drawtape System has production speeds up to 183 m/min (600 ft/min) with flexible take-off options for rolled or folded-bag dispensing. An optional print-to-seal registration for the high-speed production of printed bags or film is also available. CMD stressed the system’s space-saving design—for instance, a reduced height that makes film thread-up easier and allows the entire system to fit in a conventional ocean freight container for international shipping.

The company worked with extrusion system supplier Gloucester Engineering and ExxonMobil Chemical to create a 0.75-mil (19-µm) thick bag that had the performance of a more typical 0.9-mil bag. A trial was run with Enable metallocene polyethylene (mPE) 20-05CE used in the outer layers of the three-layer film and Exceed mPE applied in the core layer. CMD converted the film into bags at NPE. CMD, www.cmd-corp.com

PSI promotes patent-pending 
backflush screen changer

Extrusion and recycling equipment supplier PSI Polymer Systems Inc. (Conover, NC) introduced a new dual-bolt backflush screen changer for polymer filtration at NPE2009, heading to Chicago after moving from Hickory, NC to Conover, NC and into a 45,000-ft2 facility that triples its factory footprint. At NPE2009, PSI displayed the CSC-148BF, which uses a patent-pending design to reduce the amount of resin needed to backflush material through the unit and clean the screen packs. The company also placed the backflush ports on the bottom of the unit, whereas competitive systems place these ports on the side of the screen changer. In that configuration, contaminant leakage is possible during flushing, with greater material loss. This system comes with guaranteed leak-proof operation to 10,000 psi and is constructed without seals or contact parts, which helps increase screen pack life by up to 25 times, according to PSI, while also boosting output due to reduced backpressure. PSI Polymer Systems Inc., 
www.psi-polymersystems.com

Maag unveils new 
gear-pump concept
Calling it a first-of-its-kind generation of gear pumps designed to convey highly filled plastics, Maag Pump Systems AG (Oberglatt, Switzerland) gave showgoers a preliminary glimpse of its latest design, which will go into series production in 2010. The tooth flank position and the flank clearance of the extrex synchro drive can be continuously calculated and calibrated during operation, allowing processors to track and adapt to the effects of high shear and pressure. Operators can choose whether gears touch or not, depending on the process, through electronically timed gear control. The patent-pending design will allow processors to use more abrasive- or corrosive-resistant materials. In addition, through cladding, Maag says the gear pump’s housing ensures optimal temperature distribution throughout the pump and improved heat control, which results in energy savings of up to 30%.
The synchro drive is recommended for unit sizes between 36 and 90, which allows machine operators working in restricted spaces to increase productivity. Maximum capacity for the extrex synchro drive is 2500 kg/hr (6260 lb/hr), with the system able to handle pressures up to 7250 psi. At show time, Maag was in the midst of building and testing a prototype, with plans for full-scale production to begin around the start of 2010.

Under the billing “small giant,” the company also displayed its polyrex 100 pump. Designed to run in a plant processing 100 tonnes/hr of low-density polyethylene in an undivided main stream, the polyrex can achieve differential pressures up to 250 bar. Maag says the pump’s volumetric efficiency allows such high pressures to be reached with a minimum amount of energy. The company also showed visitors its vacorex 560 intended for plant capacity of 1500 tonnes LDPE/day in an undivided main stream, with differential pressures up to 320 bar.

On the business side, Maag said it would begin manufacturing its Model CSC piston-type continuous screen changers in the U.S., starting with the 116- to 176-mm models. The company says the move will mean faster deliveries and competitive pricing for its North American clientele. Maag Pump Systems AG, www.maag.com

Conair unveils extrusion initiative
Among the many technologies it highlighted in Chicago, auxiliaries supplier Conair (Cranberry Twp., PA) came to NPE2009 with what it called a “film and sheet extrusion initiative.” Specifically, the company displayed a gravimetric control system for mono- and coextrusion lines, a blender control that combines with the gravimetric control, and an integrated inline extrusion-scrap reclaim system.

The TrueWeigh extrusion control uses its control logic to maintain consistent dimensions and weight-per-length regardless of process and material variables. The TrueBlend EXT gravimetric extrusion control blender extends that concept to blending, combining blender operation with gravimetric control to lower overall cost and give operators a single interaction point with the system. The Scrap Saver delivers material, including up to 25% film-scrap regrind, to the extruder consistently, reportedly without hangups, surging, or clumping. Conair, www.conairnet.com

Lung-Meng alone in running 
blown-film tower at McCormick
Noticeably absent from NPE2009 were rafter-scraping film towers running blown-film applications, as many suppliers still came to Chicago, and brought equipment, or portions of equipment, but left it idle. The lone operational system could be found in the North Hall and was brought by Taiwanese equipment supplier Lung-Meng Machinery (Tainan Hsien). The AH75T monolayer system with 3-inch extruder and winder was running an Exceed mPE (metallocene polyethylene) from ExxonMobil for a stretch-film product. Allen Tsai, GM of the company’s U.S. operations, Lung Meng Machinery Inc. (Doral, FL), said the company had planned to have two operational systems in its booth, with a larger three-layer coextrusion line joining the stretch-film system, but as reports of pullbacks by competitors surfaced, the company scaled down its own plans.

The second line, which would have blown a three-layer garbage bag, was to be paired with an inline slitting and packaging system to produce finished boxes of garbage bags. The company still brought the inline-packaging system, as well as an automated prestretching system for shrink film that reduces stretch-film thickness from 21 to 8 µm, while boosting strength. The company described its booth as a demonstration of its new whole-plant system, offering film manufacturing to bag packaging. The AH75T has a maximum film width of 1600 mm and output of 200 kg/hr in high-density PE and 230 kg/hr in low-density PE. Lung-Meng Machinery Co. Ltd., www.lung-meng.com

W&H holds form at NPE with 
form-fill-seal line, rings up sales
Windmöller & Hölscher Corp. (Lincoln, RI; U.S. division of the Lengerich, Germany firm) presented a Topas form-fill-seal machine for free-flowing bulk products at NPE2009. Featuring a handle die cutter, edge sealing, and mitered corner sealing, W&H says the system can be adjusted to a variety of sizes and products, offering filling weights from 10-110 lb (5-50 kg). A compact design allows the system to be mounted on rails, wheels, or an air-cushion system, boosting mobility.

While at the show, W&H secured the sale of a three-layer, high-output Varex blown-film line on the second day of NPE2009—the fourth system sale it announced in June. W&H was unwilling to identify the buyer of the 134-inch lay-flat system, saying only it was sold on Tuesday of the five-day show. On June 17, W&H announced the sale of two blown-film lines to ISO Poly Films (Gray Court, SC). That purchase order included a five-layer Varex with a 63-inch working width, a Filmatic S dual-surface winder, as well as a Multicool D stacked double air ring with Optifil P3 gauge control. The second line was a three-layer, 110-inch Varex line with grooved feed extruders, a 25-inch Optifil P2 die, and a Filmatic T dual-turret winder. W&H has worked with ISO Poly, which was purchased by Sigma Plastics in March, since 2001.

On June 23, W&H announced the sale of a three-layer Varex coextrusion film line with an 87-inch working width and Filmatic dual-turret winder to Next Generation Films (Lexington, OH). Expected to be in production in the fall of 2009, the unit is the fourth W&H system for the company. The Ohio extruder is applying patent-pending nanotechnology to create three-layer film structures for the produce market with the same performance as seven-layer structures. According to Andrew Wheeler, VP of W&H in North America, Next Generation bought its first three-layer W&H system, a 103-inch line, in 2001, and after working with another supplier, it has purchased its last three, including the most recent, from W&H. Windmöller & Hölscher Corp., www.whcorp.com

Davis-Standard builds up its lab, brings a lab line to NPE
Davis-Standard (D-S; Pawcatuck, CT), which recently had installed a pilot line at its New Jersey facility, brought a lab line to NPE2009. The company showed a Killion KLT extruder and lab-size cast-film line in Chicago—the first Killion at NPE in 18 years, according to D-S. The company said the decision to bring the line reflected its belief that even while companies work to save money in difficult times, they should continue to invest in research and development. Rick Keller, VP of blown-film equipment at D-S, told MPW that his company would be unveiling new die and winding technology in the months after NPE2009 following additional fine tuning. In terms of the broader market, Keller said film machinery demand in North America remains stagnant, with interest also on the wane in China but rising in Latin America and India. Davis-Standard, www.davis-standard.com

Fight for feedblock superiority continues strong

The layer-multiplier race continues among flat-die extrusion feedblock suppliers, although at NPE2009 it focused more on fine-tuning the layers themselves vs. expanding their numbers. Cloeren’s (Orange, TX) stand included several examples of its Nanolayer feedblock—the patented layer multiplier that it says offers duplex and centralized synergistic nanolayer structures. At its stand, Cloeren displayed a 514-layer feedblock, which creates films composed of 512 nanolayers and two conventional ones. Sold into the Asian market, the die will create reflective polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film. New for Cloeren at McCormick was an AutoGauge 5.6 lip adjustment and a Synergy flow channel. Cloeren’s Nanolayer system dates back approximately three years, with the first system sent to athletic equipment and apparel supplier Nike. That 76-layer system created air bladders for shoes from thermoplastic urethane (TPU) and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH).

Competitor Extrusion Dies Industries LLC (EDI; Chippewa Falls, WI) promoted what it designates as microlayer technology at NPE2009. EDI has promoted its layer multiplier in the past, but it says the latest iteration benefits from research the firm undertook for the U.S. Dept. of Defense to create long-shelf-life containers for military food supplies.

EDI’s layer multiplier feed block transforms a typical sandwich structure from a standard composition into one where one or more of the layers has been subdivided into multiple microlayers. Key is that the coextrusion’s overall thickness is no different than if the original sandwich structure was transferred directly from the feedblock to the extrusion die without the layer multiplier.
By multiplying key layers—like barrier—to create a “synergistic” effect, the system impedes oxygen ingress three to five times better, compared to conventional barrier coextrusions. In essence, a multitude of incredibly thin barrier layers, working together, outperform a few much thicker ones. EDI says the multiplier has also demonstrated improvements in other film properties, including tensile strength, by alternating multiple layers of performance materials with lower-cost commodity resins.

EDI also promoted a new surface coating specifically designed to withstand most attacks from hydrochloric acid (HCl) generated while extruding polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The DuraCoat coating is said to be inert when exposed to a range of harsh chemicals, but EDI will initially target processors of PVC foam, film, and sheet. In addition to overall hardness, the coating can withstand high melting and oxidation temperatures while offering insolubility in most acids and bases.

Gary Oliver, VP technology at EDI, said the coating forms an extremely thin film on the die’s steel surface that has no effect on even intricate features machined into flow surfaces, with the coating’s low friction coefficient creating improved slip release compared to standard chrome plating. The coating is applied to the entire die, including polished flow surfaces. Cloeren, www.
cloeren.com; Extrusion Dies Industries LLC, www.extrusiondies.com

Hosokawa Alpine promotes film-development work with Dow Chemical
Hosokawa Alpine’s (Natick, MA) booth was located in the North Hall of McCormick Place but the processing action was going on in Freeport, TX at Dow Chemical’s test facility. Two separate flat-screen televisions offered a live view of a seven-layer blown-film system running a barrier EVOH/nylon film. Dow purchased the system from Hosokawa for testing purposes, according to Jim Campbell, VP sales at Hosokawa Alpine American. Campbell said Dow is planning to add a nine-layer system to the lab in the future.

The company provided samples of the seven-layer film produced at Dow’s Film Application Development Center. The 4-mil film was constructed from Dow XUS linear low-density polyethylene (the newest in the Dowlex NG series), Amplify tie layer, nylon, EVOH, nylon, Amplify tie layer, and finished with Dow’s Elite 5401G—a copolymer produced via Dow’s Insite metallocene catalyst technology.

Dow’s film tech center officially opened in the spring of 2009, and the resin maker and Hosokawa Alpine worked together to create a line they felt would be capable of meeting practically every kind of film application. The cell also includes a 64-inch dual-turret stacked winder from Brampton Engineering and four-component gravimetric blenders from Maguire. Hosokawa Alpine American Inc., www.halpine.com

Gloucester Engineering stands alone
Some 31 years after becoming part of Battenfeld, Gloucester Engineering (Gloucester, MA) once again came to Chicago as a stand-alone company in 2009, bringing with it news of two technology developments. The company introduced its Symphonix control technology for film, sheet, foam, and extrusion coating. Replacing its Extrol platform, the company says it takes proven features of the previous iteration and enhances them so they’re based on off-the-shelf commercial hardware. Symphonix includes reporting and control features that offer users customization, as well as two features—Symphonix Control Node and Investment Security—that Gloucester says confront the risk of technological obsolescence that threatens any software.

The company described the control node as a data-processing solution, with investment security through a software refreshment program that continually updates the system as well as defends against networked-data security risks. The company said the product is modular and scalable, handling everything from a basic, single extruder to the largest multilayer, multi-extruder cast- and blown-film systems, all the way up to plantwide integrated systems.

Gloucester also used the McCormick spotlight to launch its Centrum CS winder: a center surface winder for blown film capable of winding in forward and reverse modes. The winder uses what Gloucester calls a floating suspension system that it says provides outstanding film roll quality compared to conventional center surface winders. The company says this is due to greater precision and constant pressure over the entire contact area of the rubber roll to the film roll. In addition to roll quality, Gloucester says the new winder allows easier cut-over and film-roll changes in reverse wind mode without the need for a driven shaft. The company offers the system in a single station with or without a nip roll or as double stations in back-to-back or face-to-face configurations with nip roll and platform. Gloucester Engineering, www.gloucesterengineering.com

Alpha Marathon brings new cone die, winder to Chicago
Less than a year after the company became employee owned, film extrusion equipment supplier Alpha Marathon (Woodbridge, ON) made a splash in Chicago, calling the quality of the leads it got at NPE2009 exceptional and rating the overall show a success. The company displayed a 12-inch stackable air ring with motorized adjustment, a newly patented stackable high-output Alpha Cone die, dual-spiral stackable-die system, and a new single-turret winder for high-speed blown film.

Sandi Holgate, Alpha’s North American sales director, said the cone die, which, as its name indicates, is cone shaped, generated a great deal of interest. The stackable die, which can go from five layers up, is intended for high-barrier products with high output. The Alpha Cone splits melt into two streams before they’re fanned out and spread around the die’s circumference. The die has several spiral or helical grooves prior to the joining gap where the various layers of melt stream reunite. According to Holgate, the spiral grooves’ and lands’ dimensions are carefully calculated in relation to relevant factors such as melt viscosity, shear sensitivity temperature, and pressure requirements. Stackable die benefits include decreased residence time, thermal insulation, and temperature zones that allow different melt temperature materials with a 60-deg-C range.

Holgate said the company is also seeing demand for its stack winder, and Alpha decided to bring a single-turret winder since it takes up less space and to disabuse people of the notion that the company is only about air rings and dies. The 74-inch single-turret winder for high-speed blown-film lines can handle 500 ft/min throughput, with a 30-inch maximum roll diameter. The unit also has 3-inch-diameter shafts with automatic cut-over and integrated secondary nip station with inline and edge-slitting capabilities. Siemens PLC controls and drives are used. Alpha Marathon, www.alphamarathon.com



Material handling

Accuracy offered in GPET 
gravimetric series

New from Plastrac (Edgemont, PA) at NPE was the Auto-Disc GPET303 model gravimetric blender, targeting injection molding and injection blowmolding equipment. The feeder can handle all pellet types including micropellets as well as regrind. The unit’s Recovery Time Tracking and Timer Mode synchronize this blender with the processor’s press. It features integrated weigh scales with push-button calibration for additive feed and a capacity of up to 1000 kg/hr (2200 lb/hr). Should material approach empty, a material low-level sensor initiates an audible alarm to alert the operator. The microprocessor can store up to 250 different recipes that can be edited and loaded by computer. An event history feature on the machine records the last 76 production processes during the previous 72 hours for quality control. Plastrac Inc., www.plastrac.com

Unit prevents bridging, 
rat-holing of materials
New from K-Tron Process Group (Pitman, NJ) at the show was the ActiFlow, an alternative to mechanical hopper agitators with secondary motors and gearboxes as well as the need for flexible sidewall agitation devices. It prevents bridging and rat-holing of cohesive bulk materials in stainless steel hoppers. It is a non-product-contact device, made up of a patent-pending vibratory drive and control. Its self-tuning control algorithm  adjusts the frequency and amplitude of ActiFlow to maintain flow within the hopper that prevents bridging before it occurs. The device is bolted to the outside of the extension hopper, above the feedscrews. K-Tron, www.ktron.com

Double output at half the waste
Auxiliary equipment manufacturer Matsui America Inc. (Hanover Park, IL) is focused on cutting what executives there identify as the molder’s biggest waste: wasted water, wasted energy, and wasted resin. “We want to help molders halve their waste and double their output,” stated Greg Lewis, sales GM. At NPE the company touted its Plas-Aid dryers, saying processors can see 10%-40% energy savings with these. The dryer turns off automatically if it does not draw resin for a specified time. Interest in its established dessicant rotary dryers continues, he said, including for processing of bioplastic PLA. The DPD3 low-temperature vacuum dryers, oft used for molding of connecters, are helpful in reducing the gases that gunk up a mold’s surface, Lewis said, such that users are seeing mold maintenance requirements dropping considerably. New, and drawing interest from molders of transparent parts especially, is a vacuum receiver that uses the air stream to remove dust and blend materials. Matsui, www.matsui america.com

IR drying jointly presented
A sales agreement between The Conair Group Inc. (Cranberry Twp., PA) and Kreyenborg (Senden, Germany) in May allowed for the first cobranded infrared drum dryer (IRD) to be displayed by Conair at NPE. The integral reflector is made of aluminum-oxide ceramic, which degrades slower than other materials, and the IRD uses laminar airflow to keep dust from damaging the IR lamps, especially in PET regrind drying applications. In addition to the single-stage ES-1 EnergySmart PET drying system introduced in May, a new TrueBlend blender was on display, featuring a new control system, nine individual material hoppers, and a compressed-air self-cleaning system for quick color changes. New TouchView controls are available on larger Carousel Plus dryers and are standard on all dessicant dryers, with four available configurations. For material handling control, the new FLX control can allow users to build a system of up to 32 loaders and 10 pumps with easy graphical display on the color touch screen. Conair, www.conairnet.com

Material-specific transport

NPE was the North American debut for Moretto’s (Massanzago, Italy) KruiseKontrol material transport system, which helps to eliminate issues like angel hair and pipe wear by optimizing transport according to the nature of each material. A series of sensors can control vacuum and speed within the transport pipes, adjusting to meet the designated parameters of 40 different preloaded material profiles and 40 more customizable options. Users select the image of a receiver on the color touch-screen monitor and only need to select a material and machine number for the system to automatically manage every cycle. Transport cycle data, planned maintenance, and alarm archive information are available. Moretto, www.moretto.com

Mobile drying
Motan (Plainwell, MI) added a smaller model to its Luxor beside-the press dryers, with twin high-capacity desiccant beds and a single blower for both process and regeneration circuits in the new 50 and existing 80 models, and separate blowers in the 120 and 160 models. The mobile units require little space or energy consumption, and operate without compressed air. The Minicolor G compact gravimetric blending and dosing unit features automatic calibration, a maintenance-free dosing motor, is insensitive to vibrations, and doses through loss-in-weight technology. Motan, www.motan.com

Angel hair, dust removed 
with deduster
With cleaning capacity of 10-500 lb/hr and a low height, the new RC-Series DeDuster from Pelletron Corp. (Lancaster, PA) uses a cone-shaped filter in its CentraCone technology to remove long angel hair and heavy dust particles with low energy and air consumption. For capacities up to 1000 lb/hr, the new XP5 DeDuster is only 20-22 inches high, depending on flange connection type, and features a redesigned dust outlet deflector for higher cleaning efficiency. Newly patented GRM (medium pressure) and GRH (high pressure) rotary valves feature expanded end tips of the rotor vanes, an increased number of vanes and pockets, and optimized venting design to provide high filling efficiency with the lowest possible air leakage. Pelletron Corp., www.
pelletroncorp.com

Blending control
TSM Control Systems (Atlanta, GA) showed its new fully automatic Auto-Clean technology, with an accumulator that blows material from the vacuum receiver level down to the machine throat for virtually instant automatic order changes. Auto-Clean is available on the Opti-Mix series of gravimetric batch blenders, which use a reverse flight mixing auger for consistent continuous homogenous mixing regardless of material geometry or bulk density. This capability becomes even more important to processors using high percentages of regrind—the mixing technique is said to allow for processing of up to 100% low bulk density flake regrind. TSM Control Systems, www.tsm-controls.com

Energy-efficient drying

Of the 16 new products introduced at the Universal Dynamics Inc. (Una-Dyn; Woodbridge, VA) booth, highlights included the TR Series rotary-wheel dryer, using Advanced Micro sieve technology to provide what the company says is the most energy-efficient wheel dryer offered to processors. The low-air venturi design on the AutoDry II compressed-air dryer can achieve a –40°F dewpoint and is available in sizes from 25- to 800-lb drying hoppers. To access a variety of auxiliary equipment throughout the plant from the palm of your hand, the WiFACS system allows for reliable communication for data management and system control. Una-Dyn also offers more products and information to process PLA resin, since the heat bloom creates unavoidable clumps of resin that need to be trapped, raked, or shredded to prevent system blockage. Una-Dyn, 
www.unadyn.com



Reclaiming and recycling

Surprise sale highlights NPE

An unexpected sale to a domestic customer of a WL(K)15, 120-lb/hr shredder from Weima America (Fort Mill, SC), was the talk of the company’s stand on the second day of NPE2009. Booth personnel had previously talked to the processor but were not aware that a purchase was imminent. “This made the show an even more satisfying event for us,” said Vikki Van Dam, inside sales/marketing manager at the company. Material is loaded into the unit’s 1500-by-1500-mm hopper opening and pressed against the 368-mm-diameter rotor by a hydraulic ram. The two-stage system is intended for drums, pipe, and hollow containers. Weima America, www.weima
america.com

Eriez boosts PolyMag 
additive performance
After launching the technology at NPE2006, Eriez (Erie, PA) has made refinements to its PolyMag offering. Eriez’s Keith Jones said they’ve moved away from a wax-based carrier to EEA and increased the strength of the additive, lifting its metal content 70%, so you can have effective additive levels from 0.7% instead of 1%-1.25%. In multimaterial systems, processors can add PolyMag to a material they want to reclaim. After granulating a part, all the scrap is passed over a magnet by conveyor, with resin that has the PolyMag additive separated out. The company boosted the system strength by using a thinner belt (5 mils instead of 10), which served to bring the pellet closer to the magnet, and boosted system strength by 25 times. At the show, the company processed a coinjected hood from a John Deere tractor, but there are other uses, including reclaiming more valuable materials from startup scrap often generated in extrusion.

The product is actually now used in food-processing tote bins, with the molded plastic loaded anywhere from 5%-20%. Food processors have already installed metal detectors/magnets so now if part of a plastic bin breaks off, it can be extracted from the food stream as well. Eriez, www.eriez.com

Flexible, safe granulating
The replaceable back plates in Conair’s (Cranberry Twp., PA) new CKW series of heavy-duty granulators offer three different feed configurations—open, tangential, and restricted—with adjustable bed knives, feed opening, and down-stroke cut options increasing the granulator’s application versatility. Able to process up to 8800 lb/hr, double-scissor-cut herringbone knives can be adjusted to ensure a consistent gap between rotor knives and screen, with three-blade beam, five- and seven-beam rotors, and two additional bed knives available as options. A swing-away front-panel door provides clear access to the cutting chamber for easy cleaning and maintenance, with the granulate catch bin mounted in front of the rotor on the door. Magnetic separator and fines/long removal options are available, and for safety a speed sensor prevents the cutting chamber from opening until the rotor comes to a complete stop. Conair, www.conairnet.com

Easy-access granulator
In addition to announcing the company’s acquisition of Avian Machinery, the second-largest Asian granulator manufacturer, Rapid Granulator (Cranberry Twp., PA) released the RG series of screenless granulators, which use Integral Metal Detection technology to prevent metal from damaging equipment. These slow-speed screenless granulators also have a reversible motor function to prevent blockage in the cutter house and are available in eight models ranging from the small-sprue RG-1 to the RG-4 Twin, which is capable of granulating bumpers and other very large parts. The open-hearted granulator line was also expanded with the large 600 Series, which offers a throughput of up to 5000 lb/hr. The rotor and cutter can be easily accessed in three steps to allow operators to see that the machine is visibly clean before contamination occurs. A new modular silencing system uses sound-absorbing fabric and lightweight aluminum profiles to lower noise emissions by 10-20 dBA, helping to meet increasingly stringent noise constraints from regulatory authorities. Rapid Granulator, www.rapidgranulator.com


Mold/diemaking and 
rapid tooling

No waffling over benefits of 
plastic baffles

Improved cooling, leading to improved cycle times, and lower cost are two of the big benefits D-M-E (Madison Heights, MI) says users will realize when switching from brass turbulent flow baffles to ones made of polythalimide. Patented side wipers on these eliminate coolant blow-by and seal the plastic blade of the baffle within the mold’s cooling channels to ensure uniform cooling. The baffle design creates turbulence within the cooling liquid—to increase heat transfer and cool parts more quickly than traditional baffles, according to D-M-E. Because they can be cut to length with standard shears, there is no need for secondary procedures associated with cutting and soldering traditional brass baffles. D-M-E, www.dme.net

Econ line keeps costs low, capabilities high

Among the novelties it brought to Chicago, probably the biggest from a strategic viewpoint was the introduction by PSG Plastic Service Group (Stevensville, MI) of its new Econ strategy: two new product lines of hot runner manifold systems and hot runner controls. These are made by PSG in Germany and the U.S. The company’s HRS and other established product ranges now become its premium products.

The new Econ-Trol hot runner control features PID auto-tuning, soft-start function, heating current display, and alarm contactors. It is said to be very easy to use, and controls can be ordered through a newly created website, www.econ-trol.com.

The new Thermoject-Econ hot runner manifold systems are offered in five standard manifold heights (33, 40, 50, 60, and 70 mm), with the height of the manifold matched to the diameter of the respective melt channel. Users can buy the components and assemble them, or purchase them unitized (complete drop-in system, including all plumbing and wiring) and as complete hot halves (two- and three-plate versions are available that bolt onto a mold). The application range for these is broad and includes those with manifold melt channels ranging from 8-24 mm and shot weights from 0.5-6000g. PSG Plastic Service Group, www.psg-online.us

Trio of valve gate nozzles
Germany’s Otto Männer Vertriebs GmbH debuted three new products at NPE. The männer Sidegate is a valve gate nozzle for side injection, and offers the features of männer’s cylindrical valve gate in a nozzle designed for side injection. The new system eliminates the drawbacks of previous solutions such as complicated gate vestige removal in cold runner applications or stringing when hot tips are used. This new nozzle is designed for long, tubular plastic parts and all applications that require lateral injection, said the company.

Männer’s SlimLine valve gate nozzle is a compact design for close-cavity spacing, and has a nominal diameter of just 8 mm, enabling its use in applications involving tight spacing or configurations with low accessibility such as direct injection close to the core or inner injection, high-cavitation molds, and applications with extremely small parts/weights.

The MCN männer Combi Nozzle valve gate nozzles have interchangeable tips and are specifically designed for cost-effective, high-volume production of demanding products with short cycle times. MCN-series valve gate nozzles feature a standard nozzle body plus custom nozzle tip tailored to the specific application involved. Otto Männer Vertriebs GmbH, www.maenner-group.com

New products, new partnerships, 
new logo for Progressive
Progressive Components Inc. (Wauconda, IL) rolled out its new logo at NPE. “We’re not just Progressive, but we’ve evolved into a group of companies serving the tooling industry with specialties in specific areas,” explained Progressive’s president Glenn Starkey.
Progressive Components’ group of companies includes Roehr Tool (Hudson, MA), specializing in collapsible core and expandable cavity technology; ToolingDocs (Ashland, OH), a developer of mold maintenance software programs; and AST Technology GmbH (Herford, Germany), a service provider and resource to OEMs for developing tooling standards in four core areas, including design for manufacturing, tooling and process development, process optimization, and tooling assessment and training.

Adding to this group, Progressive announced that it has formed a partnership with SonikS LLC (East Longmeadow, MA) for specialized mold component mechanisms. SonikS was founded by George Sukonik in 2005 to develop and produce accessories for more effective mold performance. He and his partner Yakov Gartsbeyn have developed a product that Progressive will add to its lineup in the near future.

Roehr Tool introduced its Dovetail Core with a collapsible mechanism for PVC applications. Roehr recently built two of its new Dovetail Cores, complete with thread-ground molding details, for Pilgrim Innovative Plastics (Plymouth, MA). The cores were needed for molding a very large, intricate, threaded part used in the food processing industry. In addition, the part design required that the cores be installed on the A half of the mold base and space was a factor due to molding machine platen limits. Dovetail Cores are very compact and do not require the use of a front-half ejector box.
Roehr also announced the ribbon-cutting for its newer, larger facility in Hudson, MA. The company more than doubled its floor space with the move into 13,000 ft2. “This move has allowed us to reorganize our shop workflow and gain efficiencies, particularly as our business grows,” said Jim Cullison, Roehr’s VP. Progressive Components Inc., www.procomps.com; Roehr Tool, www.roehrtool.com; SonikS LLC, www.soniksllc.com; ToolingDocs, www.toolingdocs.com

Nanocoating for molds
Mold component, hot runner, and mold base supplier PCS (Fraser, MI) showcased its NanoMold Coating, a semipermanent, two-step, self-applied coating designed to reduce cycle time, rejects, and maintenance while improving part quality in injection molding, blowmolding, and rubber molding applications.

The coating is created by forming a nanoscale barrier from nanoformulated molecules. It is a nontoxic, nonmigration product that can withstand temperatures up to 1000°F, and can last up to (and in some cases exceed) 300,000 cycles per coat, depending on the mold material, fillers, mold design, flow rates, and pressures. NanoMold Coating resists most common cleaners and degreasers, so molds can be cleaned without removing the coating.

Soon, PCS will be offering interchangeable Gate Mate Standard and Gate Mate Lite Replacement nozzles that enable lower process temperatures, longer nozzle life, energy savings, higher-quality plastic parts, a unique patent-pending nozzle design, and elimination of unscrewing tip problems. PCS Co., www.pcs-company.com

© 2011 UBM Canon | please visit these other sites

UBM Canon | Design News | Test & Measurement World | Packaging Digest | EDN | Qmed | Appliance Magazine | Powder Bulk Solids | Canon Trade Shows