Another K has come and gone. While we all said goodbye to the massive trade fair and quaint Düsseldorf, the innovations found at K 2013 are everlasting and will continue to make some noise for months to come.
According to Messe Düsseldorf, at the show, there were more than 3200 exhibiting raw material producers, processors and machinery manufacturers from 59 countries. This year some 218,000 trade visitors from more than 120 nations came to K 2013. However, the size of delegations from the individual purchasing companies dropped slightly. When K was held in 2010, about 222,486 visitors and 3094 exhibitors took part.
PlasticsToday's editors hit the ground running to find out the latest technology and innovation. Our Medical Channel Editor Doug Smock was the first to report on the big bombshell announced before the show officially opened its doors: Arburg, a supplier of mostly small injection molding machines, said it has developed and will begin selling an additive manufacturing machine that uses regular plastic resins.
"The machine uses inkjet-type printing heads, but has a very different approach in how material is delivered to the heads," Doug reported. "Most inkjet systems use filaments of material. Resins in the Arburg "Freeform" process are first melted with a screw, similar to how resin is plasticized in the injection molding process. The resin is then broken into tiny droplets in a piezo electric system. Size and surface of the droplets made from very homogenous material creates parts with strong mechanical properties, according to Arburg."
Stephen Moore, our Automotive Channel Editor and Asia-Pacific Correspondent, asked a simple question from Stork's booth: is this the fastest injection machine at the show?
"A cycle time of sub-two seconds for a rigid package in a four-cavity tool is impressive in anyone's books but when that cycle time also includes an in-mold labeling step, it's surely swift," Stephen wrote. "The machine cycled at speeds of down to 1.96 seconds during PlasticsToday's visit to the Stork stand, and the word is cycle time might be limited by the take-out speed. The machine might even be capable of 1.8-second cycles."
European Editor Karen Laird reported that for the past nine months, 3M and Trexel have been collaborating on a development that the companies described at the international K Show as "revolutionary" and "game-changing."
"3M, a manufacturer of high-strength glass bubbles, and Trexel, the exclusive provider of MuCell Microcellular Foam injection molding technology, announced that by combining their two technologies, they were able to realize 20% density reduction of finished plastic parts with mechanical properties comparable to standard solid molded parts," she wrote. "Moreover, manufacturers can also reap improvements in dimensional stability, process throughput and sustainability. The achievement signifies one of the world's largest advancement in the lightweighting of plastics
I was told that I had to stop by the Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) booth and I'm glad I did. Catherine Mattson-Fimmers, marketing manager for W&H, escorted me behind a curtain. I went into the 'experience' tunnel I met the Varex II, which was quite an impressive machine. The Varex II ran a 2200 mm 5-layer extrusion line featuring the Maxicone P die, which is specially designed for polyolefin films. The demo product is 40-micron collation shrink film.
With the Varex II, W&H touts this "innovative successor" to the Varex blown film system lifts the secret of one of the most significant development projects in the company's history.
Senior Editor Clare Goldsberry held down the fort for us in North America and she found a hot one: consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. appears to be getting into the moldmaking and injection molding business. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, iMflux, the company is establishing a manufacturing facility in West Chester, OH, and has begun advertising for employees that will eventually number 221 over the next three years.
"A patent was issued on August 29, 2013, detailing iMflux's mold/molding process that the company says could save P&G $1 billion annually," Clare wrote. "This patent, "Method for Operating a High Productivity Injection Molding Machine," is just one of nearly a dozen patents obtained by Gene Michael Altonen and various colleagues. Altonen currently serves at iMflux's VP of R&D and has been granted 40 patents with 25 patents pending in the field of injection molding."
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