Haitian readies next-generation molding machines

Haitian will soon roll out next-generation upgrades of its best-selling lines as its sales continue to move toward more sophisticated machines, such as German-made electrics for the packaging and medical markets.

Prices of the company's injection molding machines rose in 2011 in the face of a tightening Chinese economy,  reflecting growing sales of more expensive machines, Helmar Franz, executive director and chief strategy officer of Haitian International (Ningbo, China) said in a wide-ranging meeting with reporters at

Helmar Franz, former Demag CEO,  is the Chief Strategy Officer at Haitian, the world's largest manufacturer of injection molding machines.

NPE2012 in Orlando, FL last week.

Total output of injection molding machines by Haitian dropped from 30,000 units in 2010 to 27,000 in 2011, while the average selling price increased from $36,297 in 2010 to $40,101 in 2011.

Sales of the company's Venus series all-electric machines grew 77.5% in 2011, reaching $48.4 million. Absolute Haitian (Worcester, MA) announced at the show that the Venus/p, which is specifically configured for the packaging industry, is now available for sale in the U.S. The unit ran at NPE2012 with a 16-cavity cap mold provided by Cavaform International (St. Petersburg, FL).

Also now available in the United States is the all-electric Zhafir Mercury series, which is available in clamp tonnages ranging from 55 to 167. A Zhafir Mercury 1000-35/35 molded 200ul medical polypropylene pipettes with a scalable 64-cavity mold, also made by Cavaform. The Zhafir machines were designed and developed in Germany by a group that Franz headed in an effort partially targeting dominance of the high-precision machine market in Asia by Japanese producers. The machines are manufactured in Germany and Asia.

"Materials like PEEK, PSU and PPS have extremely high melt indexes and are too difficult to process on traditional machines, which combine injection and plasticizing in one screw and barrel," Franz said.  Two screws are used in the Zhafir Mercury Series so that the screw is not a compromise.

In the meeting with reporters last week, Franz also noted Haitian's partnership in Asia with Trexel (Woburn, MA), which is rapidly commercializing a process originally developed at MIT  to make large structural parts with microcellular foam. "It's one of the best technology developments in our industry in the past ten years," said Franz.

Haitian is authorized to offer the technology on its machines in China, Vietnam, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.

Unveiling at Chinaplas

Haitian plans to launch several new, second-generation versions of existing product lines including Mars II (formerly named as Pallas), Venus II and Jupiter II later this year. Franz said that new models will be shown at Chinaplas in Shanghai April 18 to 21.

Haitian said the new versions will offer higher precision, reliability, speed and a better price-performance ratio to customers in the face of tougher market conditions precipitated by the Euro Zone financial problems and tightening economic policies in China. Franz said in the media meeting that the second-generation Venus has an upgraded toggle and is 5 to 10% more energy efficient that the first-generation Venus.

Another strategy is to put more focus on exports.

Haitian, for example, has built a major assembly factory in Brazil. The United States remains a very small market for Haitian (150 to 200 machine sales per year), but its sales and presence are growing.

Franz said the size of the injection molding machine market in the United States is relatively small by global standards and is not the main attraction. The U.S. is important, he said, because it is a worldwide innovation leader.

"Strategically, it is one of the most important markets for us in addition to Germany," he said.

It was announced at NPE 2012 that Absolute Haitian is expanding its capabilities with the opening of a 20,000 square-foot technical center in Parma, OH. The company will conduct training at the facility and operate a technical center for machine demonstrations and mold trials.  Absolute Haitian is the exclusive sales agent for Haitian in the U.S. and Canada.

Franz said that some companies are in the early stages of moving molding capacity back to North America, particularly Mexico. Factors include rising costs in China as well as currency fluctuations.













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