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September 1, 2003

21 Min Read
Injection Molding Machines- Web Exclusive: expanded content

Complex, .81-oz PBT electrical connectors were run on the prototype Van Dorn IntElect DD direct-drive all-electric.

Big or small, simple or complex, the machines that came to Chicago in June offered the promise of faster, more accurate, more technical, and more energy-efficient molding for anyone willing to make the investment.


Happy anniversary. Did you know that 2003 is the 20-year anniversary of the all-electric servomolding machine? According to our records, Nissei introduced the first commercial servodriven all-electric, the model MM-5, 20 years ago at K 1983.

NPE 2003 was the formal, international commercial debut of Nissei’s new Elject NEX Series GP all-electric. The modular Elject NEX Series will eventually include 22 models ranging up to 1000 tons or more with nine clamping units and 13 injection units. Company officials add that Elject NEX machines will cost about 15 percent less than its former GP all-electrics when the entire line goes into full production.

Key design features include five-zone barrel temperature control, including heating at the material drop port; a fast, high-rigidity “flat clamp” clamping unit, which features toggle pins specially designed for durability; and a new Tact control, which features a 100-ms scanning time and an ergonomically tilting, 12.1-inch color LCD screen.

Three models were demonstrated in Chicago:

  • NEX2000 (121 tons): PS utility mini cases were molded, with quality and production monitored by Nissei’s NC-NET PQ connected via a wireless LAN (local area network).

Meiki America’s Model Nadem 1500II-DM, a direct-drive all-electric, is specially equipped with an injection-compression system for thin-wall molding of ETPs.

  • NEX4000 (198 tons): PS cups were molded accumulator-free in six-cavity tooling in just 3.4-second cycles on this press, which was also wirelessly monitored.

  • NEX8000 (507 tons): Big PP letter cases were molded in a single-cavity tool.

Sumitomo exhibited four models of its horizontal SED direct-drive and SES dual belt-and-ballscrew all-electrics in its own NPE booth. Others were run at booths belonging to Cinpres, Incoe, Sailor USA, and Yushin America. Here’s what Sumitomo itself had on show—machines not mentioned elsewhere in this NPE Showcase report:

A Model SE30D (33 tons, 37 oz) showed off its high-speed, ultraprecision stuff, molding .4-mm-pitch/30-pin connectors in two-cavity tooling at 1.97-second cycles.

An SE100D (110 tons, 3.8 oz) ran .5-cu-cm syringes in 16-cavity hot runner tooling from Cavaform International, demonstrating the direct-drive clamp’s ability to deliver optimum clamping force distribution, which minimizes platen deflection and core shift, thereby ensuring wall thickness uniformity in high-volume, thin-wall molding.

An SE350S (385 tons, 33.4 oz) ran a four-cavity hot runner valve-gated mold from Stomp, producing thin-wall, clamshell optical jewel boxes with living hinges. Multitoggle clamp force control, an option on SES presses, allows injection to begin during clamping, reducing cycle times.

MHI Injection Molding Machinery’s MEt Series all-electrics, like this 55-tonner at NPE, feature a special metering control system for achieving uniform melt density and repeatable part weights as standard.

By the way, Sumitomo now manufactures 55- to 200-ton SED presses and 253- to 385-ton SES molding machines at its plant in Jefferson, GA.

Toshiba’s newest EC-N Series all-electrics, which debuted at IPF 2002 in Tokyo, were introduced to American eyes in grand style at NPE. An 85-metric-ton Model EC85N was the heart of a fully automated medical molding cell sporting a strategic supplier award from Baxter. Strategic suppliers supporting the cell included Bayer, American MSI, Mold-Masters, and Priamus. The mold was from Precise Technology. A larger high-speed EC390N also was on display.

EC-N Series machines feature wider platens and a lower overall profile than the company’s EC Series, which they are designed to replace. The machines also are equipped with feature-rich updates for Toshiba’s V21 machine control. V21s now have a wide-open architecture for direct control over robots and mold temperature controls, and for accessing the Internet to download new software packages, among other things.

The V21 graphs the load on each servomotor. New mold protection graphics help users select limits and alarms. “Virtual hydraulic injection” is another feature. It mimics a pressure control valve and helps users easily control speed by watching a simulation of hydraulic injection pressures.

Filling control can be manually set. “Feed forward” features allow users to select quick or sloped speed. Part jam-ups can be detected by the control’s monitoring of ejector torque. The V21 also has programmable ID password numerics, a memo pad for jotting notes to the next shift, and even an onboard calculator that does metric conversions.

Meiki America’s entry was its Model Nadem 1500II-DM, a direct-drive all-electric introduced last year in Japan at IPF. The machine has 350-mm/sec injection speed and is equipped with Meiki’s Injection-Press injection-compression system for thin-wall molding of ETPs. Injection-Press reportedly allowed the 160-tonner to produce thin-wall parts usually requiring a press with injection speeds of 1500 mm/sec, or faster.

An All-Electric First

NPE 2003 was not the first takeoff of the e-Jet—the first Swiss-made all-electric molding machine. The e-Jet was officially rolled out just a month before in Las Vegas, NV at the Media Tech Expo. But NPE 2003 was the first time folks in the North American molding community not directly involved in the optical disk marketplace had a chance to see the first all-electric ever built by Netstal.

The e-Jet is exclusively designed to mold optical disk substrates. It’s equipped with water- and air-cooled, encapsulated servomotors that minimize noise. A dedicated takeout device moves into the mold in 45 msec. It molded 7.8g DVD substrates from Bayer PC at the show in a Swiss-built AWM tool in cycles faster than 2.6 seconds. The entire press occupies only 9.5 sq ft of floor space, easing its installation into disk replication systems.

Its compact injection unit delivers 20,314-psi maximum injection pressure and reaches injection speeds of 250 mm/sec. It is completely closed loop controlled, like the lubricant-free, four-tiebar clamping unit. Both its injection and clamping units also ride on low-wear, high-precision linear guides. Its machine control system, based on Netstal’s DSP technology, features an ergonomic GUI with a 15-inch color screen.

The 55-ton e-Jet is Netstal’s first all-electric, but it won’t be its last. Company sources told the press that the international molding community will witness Netstal’s launch of an entirely new line of all-electrics from 50 to 175 tons for molding high-precision technical parts next year at K 2004.

  • Bigger Selections than Ever

Honors for bringing the largest-tonnage all-electric to NPE went to Maruka USA this time around. It displayed a brand-new 750-tonner from Toyo for the first time anywhere.

Shedding its image as a supplier of only small to midsize machines, Toyo showed the new Model Si-750II, largest in the Si-II Series. It has 45.08 by 45.08 inches between tiebars and can be equipped with injection unit shot capacities up to 159.2 oz. Three-lb PP parts were molded in Chicago.

Si-II presses feature a rigid, strong, and vibration-resistant machine frame developed a few years ago by Toyo called the Rasma-L. A double nozzle-touch mechanism that connects the injection unit to the stationary platen and use of nozzle-touch ballscrews eliminate shock at nozzle touch, while maintaining the load balance on the bars during mold movements. A highly rigid, CAE-developed clamping mechanism and a double-roller-supported moving platen support system are other Rasma-L features.

Austrian-built controls are featured on Dima second-generation, haute couture ES Series all-electrics. A 100-tonner ran .4-mm-thin parts on the runway in Chicago.

A networkable, touch-screen control, the 64-bit PLCS-10, is standard. Special highly precise metering control systems are optional. A smaller, 150-ton Model Si-150II-H200BU also was shown. It was equipped with a mold cavity pressure monitoring system. SQC and process control were monitored on a wireless laptop PC.

Toyo’s high-performance Rasma-L machine frames also are a feature in smaller-tonnage MEt Series Mitsubishi presses from MHI Injection Molding Machinery (MIMM). These machines also feature MIMM’s SRC-II metering control system as standard. The screw applies a touch of pressure to the melt after metering, resulting in uniform melt density and repeatable part weights. The company’s SRC-III locking check ring system is optional.

MEt Series machines are equipped with MIMM’s easy-to-use PLCS-10 touch-screen controls, capable of discretely delivering command signals to each of the MEt’s four servomotors, improving reproducibility. A 55-ton MEt was on show. There are six models in the line, which ranges from 35 to 300 tons.

MIMM also exhibited a 390-ton model in its larger-tonnage ME series of all-electrics. ME machines range from 390 to 610 tons. They feature MIMM’s MAC-VIII controls, which are equipped with huge, extremely easy-to-use 12-inch color LCD touch-screens and compact flashcards for memory storage.

  • Direct vs. Indirect Drives

Van Dorn Demag sources expect that the market share for all-electric injection molding machines will grow to more than 40 percent by 2005. It intends to be ready.

At NPE, VDD announced that it was extending the current 50- to 110-ton range of its belt-and-ballscrew all-electric Van Dorn IntElect toggles up to 385 tons. It also took the wraps off a late-stage prototype model of its first direct-drive all-electric, the Van Dorn IntElect DD.

All the members of the Demag Plastics Group are ganging up to bring the Van Dorn IntElect DD to market—including the Group’s operations in Europe, India, and the U.S. The 110-ton, 3.85-oz prototype at NPE, which features direct drives for all the main axes of motion, is scheduled for field testing by 2004. Smaller 50- and 80-ton models are planned for the line.

Battenfeld brought a 110-ton model in its EM Series all-electrics to Chicago. It molded complex PC light sockets in an intricate sliding-split mold at the show.

Among its other reported benefits, direct-drive technology improves overall machine reliability by reducing the number of moving parts. The show machine ran complex, .81-oz PBT electrical connector parts in a four-cavity Tyco mold at 12- to 15-second cycles.

A 50-ton, 2.45-oz Van Dorn IntElect of the belt-and-ballscrew variety that was modified for cleanroom operations ran nucleated-PP pipettes in a 32-cavity Tanner mold at 6-second cycles. Another coinjected Frisbees (see p. 22).

Haitian debuted its new all-electric at NPE 2003, the Model HTD88, a belt-and-ballscrew toggle weighing in at about 97 tons. Position, plastication, injection, and mold opening accuracies reportedly are to within ±.01 mm.

Simultaneous mold opening, plasticating, and ejection cycle overlapping allow the machine to dry cycle in 1.8 seconds—50 percent faster than Haitian’s comparably sized hydraulic presses.

Two models of its latest MD S-IV all-electric double toggles were on show at Niigata Plastic Machinery’s booth: a Model MD 110 S-IV, 112 tons with 16.4 by 16.4 inches between tiebars; and a Model MD 385 S-IV, a 394-tonner with 28.74 by 28.74 inches between the bars.

The Niigata machines feature twin servomotor drive control technology designed to reduce cycle times and improve mold pattern replication accuracies by providing quick response for deceleration and pressure reduction. Quick-response injection-compression capabilities also are provided.

  • Fashion-forward Electrics

A 110-ton model of Battenfeld’s stylish EM Series all-electrics (55 to 175 tons), which debuted at K 2001, precision molded complex, 7g PC light sockets at NPE. The parts were run in an innovative two-cavity, tunnel-gated, sliding-split mold built in Austria by Zumtobel. The EM1000/350 press was equipped with Battenfeld’s new independently controlled Unirob R8/B2 pick-and-place robot.

Dima displayed an equally stylish 100-ton, second-generation all-electric, designated ES 100. It features a new, more powerful B&R Austrian-built machine control—the same company that builds the machine’s servomotors—and is capable of 300-mm/sec maximum injection speed.

PC parts that were only .4 mm thick were molded on the Dima and were removed by a Swiss-built traverse servorobot from Geiger Handling USA. Models in Dima’s new all-electric series are available from 70 to 220 tons.

Another all-electric from Korea made the scene at NPE—a 121-ton, 5.2-oz belt-and-ballscrew clamping model from LG International’s new LGE Series (available from 35 to 330 tons). It has 16.5 by 16.5 inches between the tiebars and a maximum injection pressure of 16,353 psi. These five-point toggles also can reach 300-mm/sec maximum injection speed. They also feature Hicom—a touch-screen control, LG International’s latest.

A 110-ton model of its competitively priced V Series all-electrics (55 to 110 tons), the first all-electrics built in Taiwan, was displayed by Fortune International. The belt-and-ballscrew toggles in the line feature PC-based control over cycle-phase overlapping to reduce cycle time. Company sources say a 200-tonner will hit the market well before the next NPE rolls around.

Milacron exhibited a 48-oz, two-stage extruder/plunger electric injection unit equipped with a new screenchanger option at the show. It’s designed for use with the company’s Powerline Series all-electrics (220 to 1125 tons).

Mounted on the injection unit’s 30:1 L/D fixed-screw extruder, the screenchanger protects hot runners and small gates from regrind contaminants, while eliminating any possible pressure drop that might be encountered when using a screenchanger or filter in front of a conventional shooter.

A two-stage, all-electric injection unit equipped with a new screenchanger option was exhibited by Ferromatik Milacron. The screenchanger protects against contaminant damage and pressure drops.

  • All-Italian All-Electrics

As mentioned in August 2003 IMM (p. 17), NPE 2003 was the debut of Negri Bossi USA’s Elma Series all-electrics (50 to 1000 tons). A 100-ton Model VE 90-350 and a 180-ton Model VE 160-720 were on display.

A key feature of the Elmas not previously mentioned is their use of Negri Bossi’s patented design for the Elma injection units. It combines the use of Gleason-gear double-helix drive systems with advanced linear permanent magnet motors that have a high torque-to-current ratio.

Large shot capacities, injection pressures of more than 29,000 psi, a maximum injection speed of 10 in/sec, and a more than 30 percent greater screw rotation torque vs. comparable hydraulic shooters are benefits of the design.

Another all-Italian all-electric introduced to North American molders at NPE was the Bodini Eledrive. A 100-ton, 6.7-oz model with 15.9 by 15.9 inches between the bars was shown. Available in sizes from 100 to 165 tons and featuring servomotor drive on all axes of motion, Bodini Eledrives are represented here by Sandretto USA, the North American wing of the Cannon Group, based in Italy.

From another far shore, the latest series of Japanese all-electrics from Fanuc were discussed at the Milacron booth. Fanuc’s Roboshot Si-B Series machines feature advanced AI features, extremely fast injection acceleration, and a new low price. Fanuc’s Mold 24i database software, which allows remote process optimization, tracking, and reporting for up to 128 Fanuc machines, also was discussed; it was introduced at IPF 2002. (See “IPF in Toyko Was a High-tech Typhoon” at www.immnet.com for details.)

Tried and true toggles

Vincent Scuderi Jr., president of Van Blarcom Closures (Brooklyn, NY), became the proud recipient of the 7500th Van Dorn HT shortly after NPE 2003. Specialists in molding child-resistant closures, the company already has more than 50 VDD presses. Two 230-ton Van Dorn HT models are its latest additions.

The unquestionable, longstanding popularity of HTs—available in eight sizes ranging from 85 to 650 tons—is largely due to their simplicity, reliability, and versatility. Standard components and options are available to adapt these industry workhorses to most modern marketplace challenges, including electric screw drive, gas assist, LSR, microcellular foaming, Intellimold, and multishot molding.

Hybrid Machines

  • High Performance and Speed

Two Sodick Plustech Tuparl hybrids designed for ultraprecision molding were exhibited by the company’s exclusive importer and distributor, Yamazen. In one demonstration, a 66-ton, 2.93-oz Model TR60EH molded medical-grade PP pipettes weighing just .0808g each in an eight-cavity mold. Sodick Plustech Tuparl presses feature two-stage, check-ring-free screw/plunger injection, direct-pressure clamping, and powerful, multifunctional control systems. These are not your basic GP machines.

A highlight of the 12,000-sq-ft NPE 2003 booth belonging to Husky IMS, which in and of itself was a highlight of the show, was its hybrid Hylectric 1000 system with two-stage injection running 7-inch-diameter PP food containers in an 8x8 hot runner stack mold at 5.9-second cycles.

A 66-ton Sodick Plustech press molded .0808g PP pipettes in eight-cavity tooling at NPE. All Sodick Plustech machines feature check-ring-free two-stage injection units for accurate shot-size control.

The lean swingchute parts removal on Husky’s high-speed hybrid Hylectric 1000 saves up to 40 percent more floor space than other automated handling systems. The press dry cycles in less than 4 seconds.

Actually, the Hylectric 1000, an 1100-ton press, dry cycles in less than 4 seconds. But who would want to see something as boring as dry cycling at a trade show? Inmold automation was a key element in this cell. Husky’s swingchutes minimize floor space requirements when compared to robots-up to 40 percent less. The swingchutes removed the containers from their cores while the mold was opening, depositing them in an oriented fashion on a four-lane conveyor feeding a pick-and-place packer farther downstream.

The expansive Hylectric tiebar spacing easily accommodated the use of swingchutes, as well as big stack molds. And Husky’s distinctive stack mold carrier with its big, orange harmonic linkage easily bears the mold break force, while allowing QMC and accurate mold alignment in actual field use. Husky told us that the customer using the system on show once had to use three machines to match its production rate.

  • Size Matters

The largest hybrid at the show was at the Mitsubishi booth, the 1157-ton Model 1200em. MIMM’s em-Series twin-platen presses only use hydraulic oil for clamp lockup, nozzle touch, and mold actions, such as core pulls and valve gates. Every other action on its em-Series machines is servodriven.

Its hydraulic unit is built in, saving floor space. And the machine’s inverter-controlled Eco-servo pump delivers hydraulic flow only when it’s needed. During braking, the pump servomotor’s power is recycled back by its servo amplifiers. The result is that this hybrid provides the same degree of energy savings as an all-electric machine, according to MIMM.

Its em-Series machines are fully loaded with a number of other performance-enhancing features—high-speed clamp opening/closing control, peakless injection pressure control, and programmable injection-compression, for instance. Sequential cavity separation with four independent injection profiles for controlling sequential valve gating was demonstrated at the show. A 3300-tonner reportedly is in the works.

A Series presses from Boy Machines now feature optional servomotor screw drives. A Boy 90A, with an electric motor under the hood, was on show at NPE 2003.

HPM Div. demonstrated a space-saving Freedom Hybrid 1100-WP, a model of its Freedom Series two-platen presses equipped with an optional energy-saving electric screw drive. Hybridization is available on Freedom Series machines from 360 to 5000 tons, and with shot sizes from 14 to 1372 oz. Other features include retractable tiebars for easy, automated mold changes; improved longevity with fewer leaks; the ability to accommodate various injection technologies, including gas assist, silicone rubber, and foam injection; and Siemens PC-based TC03 controls.

An energy-saving servoelectric screw drive is a new option on the somewhat smaller twin-platen Model A from Boy Machines (30, 55, and 90 tons). When tested against all-hydraulics by the company, a 25.8 percent cycle time reduction was achieved running .407-oz PS tumblers, since screw rotation is independent of the machine hydraulics. Also, a 31.6 percent savings in energy input per kilogram of material throughput was the result.

Boy ran two of its new hybrids at the show, one with a Yushin sprue picker and one with a Kawasaki Scara equipped with a vision system. Both molding machines were equipped with Boy’s standard Procan CT controls. Direct robot interfacing reportedly is coming soon for Procan CTs.

In a demonstration of a real contender for the “ultimate hybrid” award, Arburg ran PP pipettes in 32-cavity tooling on its 88-ton, 8.2-oz Allrounder 420 A. The “A” stands for Alldrive. With the drive system modularity of A Series presses, you decide whether or not you need to go all all-electric. And on top of that, it’s a fully modular Allrounder.

The electric main axes of the machines—such as mold opening/closing, injection, metering—can be combined with either electric or hydraulic auxiliary drives for ejection, nozzle movement, or mold actions, depending on the application.

The Alldrive at the show had electrics powering its main axes and ejection; nozzle advance and core pulls were hydraulically driven. The pipette application helped to demonstrate the positioning accuracy and acceleration of the A Series’ position-regulated screw technology, as well as the machine’s suitability to medical molding.

Sandretto USA is marketing Bodini Eledrive Series all-electrics (100 to 165 tons) in the United States. A 100-tonner was on display.

  • East/West Hybridization

The "EH" in the EH Series molding machines built by Korea’s Jinhwa Machinery stands for "Excellent Hybrid." A 165-metric-ton, electric clamping/screw rotation Model EH165 ran thin-wall ABS mobile phone cases in eight-cavity tooling at 5.9-second cycles. It has about 20 by 20 inches between tiebars, and an injection rate of about 34 cu in/sec. Barber-Colman controls are standard.

Taiwan’s Fu Chun Shin also builds high-speed, closed loop hybrids. Its AE Series machines (50 and 200 metric tons) feature a-c servocontrol over screw rotation, highly responsive Bosch and Moog servovalving, closed loop injection control through its new FCS-2100 32-bit microcomputer control, and very competitive pricing. Maximum injection speed for the AE-200 is 600 mm/sec.

Negri Bossi USA exhibited a 935-ton, 130-oz Model V850-6500 from its Vector Series large-tonnage hybrids (660 to 1700 tons). Negri Bossi’s expandable CANbus control technology is standard, as is an a-c electric motor with vectorial-inverter control for high-performance, energy-saving screw rotation.

Telescoping Tiebars

A proprietary low-pressure, stress-relieving, “compression-injection” molding process that uses proprietary mold technology to produce those automotive windows was developed by Battenfeld. It has trademarked what it calls this “inmold pressing” technology as IMPmore. (See June 2003 IMM, p. 110 for an initial report.)

Inmold pressing reportedly is also suitable to other large, thin-wall parts with long flow distances that require low clamping force and must be free of molded-in stresses.

The design of Battenfeld’s big twin-platen also plays a key role. Its four telescoping tiebars retract, providing easy access for robotic removal of such large parts, and easy access for changing molds from the side of the press. An ABB Model IRB6650 robot was used at NPE.

Battenfeld sources say it’s only the beginning. They envision multimolding cells for producing windows with molded-in seals, for instance.

Vector Series machines are capable of simultaneous screw rotation, clamp opening and closing, and either ejection or core pulling. Other standard features include variable-displacement pumps, digital proportional valving, digital magnetostrictive transducers, bimetallic barrels, and ceramic heater bands. Competitive pricing is another standard.

High Speed

  • All-electrics

X-Melt Expansion Molding, Engel’s lock-and-load injection technology for high-speed, accumulator-free, all-electric molding, was demonstrated for the first time in the U.S. at NPE 2003.

We should have used a wide-angle lens to get all five accumulators on this high-speed, 550-ton Netstal SynErgy in the picture. It molded lids in a 24x24 stack mold from StackTeck in 4.5-second cycles.

The screw moves forward to a desired position and is locked into place, allowing melt pressure to build uniformly in front of the screw and in back of a shutoff nozzle. When the right melt compression level is reached, the nozzle opens and the rapidly expanding melt blasts into the cavity.

X-Melt was designed exclusively for use on Engel’s all-electric, tiebarless E-motion line. A 60-ton, 1.9-oz model at the show molded complex LCP DVD gear drive components in four-cavity tooling from HTP High Tech Plastics AG in 9.7-second cycles. Engel sources say X-Melt is already successfully being used to produce .011- to .009-inch-thick ABS/PC mobile phone covers at an .08-second injection time.

High-speed/thin-wall all-electric molding also was displayed by JSW Plastics Machinery. One of its third-generation J-EL III all-electric models, designated J200EL III, molded PS airline cups with .65-mm-thick walls in 12-cavity tooling at 3.25-second cycles. An identical demonstration was on show last year at IPF in Tokyo.

  • High-speed Hybrids

High-speed hybrid molding technology for packaging from Sumitomo was introduced to North America for the first time at the show. The two new SE-HY Series presses available include a 385-ton Model SE350HY and a 495-ton SE450HY.

Each uses three a-c servomotors built by Sumitomo with direct-digital, full closed loop control for plasticating, double-toggle clamping, and ejection. Functions including injection unit displacement, injection, hold- and backpressure, and screw pullback are handled by accumulator-assisted hydraulics with a digital servovalve and full closed loop control.

X-Melt, Engel’s ultrahigh-speed injection option for its all-electric E-Motion machines, debuted at NPE. Resin rockets into the cavity when a special shut-off nozzle opens.

Injection rates range from 191.7 to 245.4 cu in/sec. Shot-weight accuracy and repeatability reportedly is to within ±.02 percent. Mold opening/closing speeds are 49.6 (SE350HY) and 44.9 in/sec (SE450HY). Built for the rigors of 24/7 high-speed operation, Sumitomo’s SE-HY carries a comprehensive warranty, covering everything but the brake pads, filters, fuses, and bulbs.Engel put a 610-ton, 6

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