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York, PA - "Is all-electric the future? We say, 'yes,'" Christoph Steger, head of the Engel packaging business unit, told attendees during Engel Packaging Days 2013 (April 24-25) at the company's North American headquarters in York, PA.

Heather Caliendo

April 26, 2013

5 Min Read
Engel feeling “all-electric” about future in packaging

York, PA - "Is all-electric the future? We say, 'yes,'" Christoph Steger, head of the Engel packaging business unit, told attendees during Engel Packaging Days 2013 (April 24-25) at the company's North American headquarters in York, PA.

As the injection machines such as all-electric Engel e-motion 740H/310V/180 T and an Engel e-cap 3440/420 hummed along in the background, the two-day packaging event featured technical presentations by a variety of industry players from companies such as Weatherchem, Healthy Brand Builders, and Trexel, as well as Engel representatives.

Many of the presentations centered on sustainability and energy savings, with Engel staking out places where all-electric machines could displace hydraulic.

Steger said that in the packaging market there is currently a limitation of current production equipment to answer the growing demand on sustainable and greener production methods. Packaging, in particular, places many demands on all the components of an injection molding machine.

engel_3_0.JPGEngel works to produce high performance all-electric machines that at the same time can help to dramatically reduce operating costs and save carbon footprint. The company's offerings make up a broad portfolio of automation and presses from simple sprue pickers to 5500-ton large-scale machines.

"The packaging market is developing quite well for us," Steger told PlasticsToday. "We've taken major steps for market penetration and landed several key international accounts, which shows the proof of concept and the featured benefits such as energy efficiency."

All-electric should be a molders "dream," said Joachim Kragl, director of advanced molding systems and processing for Engel North America.

"All-electric is no doubt the future for packaging," he said. "It will happen one way or another, which is good for building a sustainable world." 

During Packaging Days 2013, Engel showcased four molding systems that have been designed for packaging industry applications, and that demonstrated some of the most recent developments in both equipment and technologies for this ever-changing industry.

  • With cycle times of less than 2.5 seconds and injection speeds of more than 500 mm/second, the all-electric Engel e-cap injection molding machines are suited for use in fast-cycling and high-performance applications in the packaging industry. During the Engel Packaging Days, an Engel e-cap 3440/420 US produced x-light caps for water bottles at a rate of 144,000 per hour by using a 96-cavity mold by Schöttli, Diessenhofen/Switzerland with a cycle time of 2.4 seconds. Where regular closures typically weigh around 2.6g., a single x-light cap weighs just 1g. Engel says combining the weight reduction in the part with the unusually high levels of energy efficiency achieved by the e-cap, provides an enormous, and sustainable, reduction in unit costs. A camera-based quality monitoring system by IMD vista, Brügg/Switzerland guaranteed 100% quality control.

  • A 12-liter pail with integrated handle ran on an Engel e-motion 2440/420 T US, at a 14-second cycle time. The all-electric Engel e-motion machine takes the place of the typical hydraulic press used for pail applications. Engel's all-electric machines have the capability of meeting the high performance requirements of modern day pail molds, while providing the added benefits of all-electric technology. Top Grade Molds of Mississauga, ON has provided the mold for this system, which is designed with optimized thermally balanced cooling and air-delivery system.

  • An all-electric Engel e-motion 740H/310V/180 T combi injection molding machine delivered flip-top lids -- like those used on shampoo bottles -- ready for use. The two differently colored materials are injected into the 16-cavity mold, one after the other, to form the cap. Once molded, an in mold closing device is used to flip the caps shut prior to demolding. The production cell operates at a cycle time of just 14 seconds. The moldmaking partner for this exhibit was Erwes Reifenberg of Finnentrop, Germany.

  • Partnering with Mold-Masters and F&S Tool Inc., Engel displayed a system that starts with an Engel e-motion 940/200 T US and added a 16-cavity, co-injection hot fill closure using IRIS technology provided by Mold-Masters. The IRIS co-injection product was specifically designed to the beverage, closure, food container and medical markets, and provides an attractive alternative to glass, metal, multilayer thermoforming or multi-piece assemblies to achieve a functional barrier. The system produces a net-shape part with no waste or additional processes.

"Packaging is a right fit for us"

While Engel already has a strong presence in automotive, packaging has proved to be a great opportunity for the engel_4.JPGcompany, said Mark Sankovitch, president and CEO of Engel North America.

"Packaging is one of the few industries that require both large and small machines," he said.  "Packaging is a right fit for us."

He sees packaging as a key growth market for areas such as thin wall technology to the company's ecodrive option. Depending on the application and the machine, in comparison with conventional hydraulic machines, the Engel ecodrive servohydraulic produces energy savings of as much as 70%, with savings of up to 100% possible on cooling water for oil cooling.

Steger said having a global sales and service proximity to its customers, with 27 sales facilities in major markets and 60 representatives on the smaller markets, offers a competitive advantage. 

Sankovitch said Packaging Days is a good event for the company to show Engel's technology and also get players from all sides of the value chain to come in and share insight. The company is planning a similar event for the medical market in 2014.

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