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Multinational microcellular molding

Amie Chitwood

December 3, 2008

3 Min Read
Multinational microcellular molding

A pricing structure of €40,000 (about $51,600), including tips and screws up to 40 mm (about 1.57 inches), has been set in Europe and in North America for Series III, the latest MuCell microcellular molding system from Trexel Inc. (Woburn, MA) when its System III is sold with a new molding machine.

Also, Arburg and Trexel have announced that Series III MuCell technology is now available for mold trials on small-tonnage hydraulic molding machines at Arburg’s technology center in Lossburg, Germany. Three Allrounder S hydraulics with 20-, 30-, and 40-mm screws are available for trials.

In case you haven’t yet heard, microcellular foaming technology was invented at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Trexel was granted an exclusive worldwide license for the further development and commercialization of the technology in 1995.

It involves the use of precisely metered quantities of atmospheric gases, such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, to create millions of nearly invisible microcells in molded parts to reduce part weight, material usage, and production costs, while improving dimensional stability.

Key features

Trexel’s Series III was engineered to be especially advantageous in electrical/electronic applications and precision-molded components run in molding machines with screw sizes up to 40 mm and at least 12-second cycles. It uses a patented all-electric pulse-feeding technology—a first from Trexel—to provide accurate and repeatable discontinuous feeding for microcellular foam production. Also, gas compression is accomplished with an electric drive motor, rather than air-driven pumps.

Trexel sources say that electrifying its systems will help to cut required maintenance in half when compared to its Series II system. What’s more, the in-service demand on shop air is said to be practically zero with the Series III.

The system is designed to take a supply of nitrogen from a high-pressure cylinder and provide a precise dose at a chosen setpoint. The nitrogen supply is fed to a gas piston and the electric drive motor attached to the piston compresses the nitrogen to a predetermined pressure—the supply pressure for pulse-feeding.

Systems are offered as stand-alone packages, but Trexel also sells systems engineered for seamless integration by injection machine OEMs into their small machine designs—Arburg, for instance.

Global support

According to Reiner Schmid of Arburg’s applications customer support department, speaking at ceremonies announcing Arburg’s cooperative agreement with Trexel in Lossburg, “This partnership between our two companies is designed to make the MuCell Process available to both our customers and Trexel’s on our high-performance hydraulic Allrounder S and our electric Allrounder A machines.

“This is part of Arburg’s continuous drive to bring new technology . . . to our customers. We have conducted an extensive evaluation of the Series III MuCell Technology and confirmed the value it delivers. We think it brings new levels of value and performance to smaller applications on our machines up to a clamping force of 1500 kN [165 tons]. It’s a great combination.”

Hartmut Traut, Trexel’s business director in Europe, added, “These aggressive commercial actions we announce today reinforce our commitment to bringing very cost-effective, advanced microcellular molding solutions for the new generation of demanding E/E and precision component applications.”

A series of industrial trials conducted by Trexel on a wide variety of machines from different manufacturers reportedly has shown that its Series III system provides “significant” improvements in dimensional stability and cycle time reductions up to 35%, reductions in clamping force requirements, plus materials savings.

Trexel has established a global network of exclusive manufacturing relationships to produce its equipment, with support centers in Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Australia, and Korea, in addition to Germany and the United States.

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