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Long stroke growth continues

Demand for long stroke blowmolding machinery shows no sign of slowdown, with many insiders indicating that 2001 entry into the U.S. market by Alpla Werke (Hard, Austria), one of the world''s largest packaging blowmolders and a manufacturer of its own long stroke equipment, is causing processors in North America to consider acquiring the machines.

At Bekum America Corp. (Williamston, MI), company president Martin Stark says, "Long stroke seems to be the buzz word since Alpla''s entry into the U.S. We''ve sold six large ones in the last year, and next year at the K show (in October, 2004) we''ll show some new long stroke models." Alpla has three processing sites in the U.S.: Georgia, Texas, and Iowa. Rich Morgan, shuttle blowmolding program manager at Uniloy Milacron (Batavia, OH), says processors are keen to take advantage of the high outputs that can be achieved, as in wheeled extrusion blowmolding, but with quicker mold change-over and calibrated neck.

Long stroke machines typically have 6 to 16 parisons and a clamp stroke greater than 650 mm, and see use in relatively high-volume applications (20 to 60 million bottles/yr). High-volume bottle processing in North America has long been the realm of rotary wheel extrusion blowmolding machines, but even leading manufacturers of those now offer long stroke machines. One, Graham Machinery Group (York, PA), now imports long stroke HLD 700 dual-station machines made at its Hesta Graham subsidiary in Stuttgart, Germany, for assembly in York. These large shuttles account for about 75% of Hesta-Graham''s sales now, says Joe Spohr, Sr. VP international sales at GMG. Competing rotary wheel manufacturer Wilmington Machinery (Wilmington, NC) spoke at NPE of its first long stroke machine, a novel three-mold system (September 2003 MP, p. 26; MPI, p. 24).

Matthew Defosse [email protected]

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