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State of the Tech: The best packaging presses in stock

Our quest for the best off-the-shelf injection molding technologies you could have on your shop floor brings us this month to high-speed injection molding machines for thin-wall packaging.

Carl Kirkland

June 1, 2008

20 Min Read
State of the Tech: The best packaging presses in stock

Our quest for the best off-the-shelf injection molding technologies you could have on your shop floor brings us this month to high-speed injection molding machines for thin-wall packaging.

Our imaginary molder, John E. B. Goode, president of IMM has seen better times, but he’s shopping around for new equipment he hopes will bring new growth opportunities in a growing market thin-wall consumer products packing. Read our imaginary molder’s RFQ, then evaluate the responses from leading real-world suppliers of today’s packaging press pacesetters.


Our imaginary molder seeks a machine to run radically thin-wall tubs and lids for an imaginary organic butter container that’s actually based on a challenging real-world part a leading-edge, super thin-wall 410 container that was run at the K 2007 plastics and rubber trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany. The lids and tubs were run in an 8+8-cavity, hot runner stack mold built by StackTeck (Brampton, ON; www.stackteck.com) in sub-4-second cycles. Here’s what the suppliers say they’ve got to offer Mr. Goode. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Editors note: IMM’s thanks to StackTeck for its assistance in preparing this story.

This machine-mounted stack mold carrier is one of several available technologies.


Arburg

Allrounder 570 A
Clamping force: 220 tons
Plasticating capacity: 29 in3/sec
Injection speed: Up to 500 mm/sec
Shot size: 15.3 oz, PS
Tiebar spacing: 20.47 by 20.47 inches

Allrounder 420 A
Clamping force: 110 tons
Plasticating capacity: 19.4 in3/sec
Injection speed: Up to 500 mm/sec
Shot size: 8.2 oz, PS
Tiebar spacing (H-by-V): 16.54 by 16.54 inches

Price: There is no fixed price; our Allrounder machines and their production cells are individually customized, depending on your specific needs.

Standards: The all-electric Allrounder A is naturally suited to the manufacturing process tasks of fast-cycling, high-precision, and thin-walled parts, which require exacting accuracy and repeatability. Energy-efficiency performance of the modular drives, combined with increased output, reduce part costs and shorten the return on investment.
Options: The standard electric axes can be combined on a modular basis, for example with a hydraulic auxiliary axis for integrated core-pull, thus enabling the machines to be tailored exactly in line with the application requirements. The machine’s injection unit can be equipped with an extended plasticizing cylinder and features barrier technology to ensure adequate plasticating.

Cincinnati Milacron

Powerline EPAK NT550
Clamping force: 550 tons
Plasticating capacity: 6 oz/sec
Injection speed: 175 in3/sec
Shot size: 44 oz
Tiebar spacing (H-by-V): 36.22 by 36.22 inches
Price: TBD

Standards:Considerable energy savings—three-quarters of all the functions of an all-electric, plus an accumulator-assisted injection option, and a proven design configuration ideal for packaging applications; integrated water manifolds; four- to six-stage air eject with 3⁄4-inch valves; an air-accumulator tank; Earth Friendly Technology, incorporating our exclusive Barr VBET (variable barrier energy transfer) feedscrew for delivering optimum melt quality; mold guard protection; independent motion included as standard, and a standard nozzle shutoff valve.


Options:
NT 550 41-oz, 120-mm, 25:1 injection unit; Mosaic control package; hybrid, high-speed, two-stage, 44-oz injection unit; six-stage air-eject package; ServTek Rex TCS thermal energy management on the injection unit, which generates a minimum of 30% additional energy savings.

Given the euro vs. the dollar, the dollar vs. the yen, and the dollar vs. the Canadian dollar, it looks like being American is becoming an issue today, Mr. Goode. All of those offshore machinery buys of the past apparently are having a big impact on spare parts costs and repair for those who made the choice of buying offshore machines years ago.

Cincinnati Milacron ‘s price is extremely competitive, and all the parts and services are provided right here in the USA. The machine is built in Batavia,OH.

We need some more information to give you a price on this system. Prints of the container and lid are required. We need to know the specs on the resin, as well. We also need to get to know your mold builder and automation people.

In addition, we supply systems, take-out devices, and all the downstream equipment. Once we get a better idea of your requirements for all of that, we can throw a number at you.
With all the changes in the industry, it’s best to go with a supplier with a strong history, and Milacron has exactly the heritage to support you. Also, we have proven technology...as a matter of fact, we have a system that’s very similar to yours running right in New Jersey, making a part that’s practically the mirror image of the part you describe.

Engel


Engel Speed 550/90
Clamping force: 550 tons (with Engel’s 90 injection unit)
Plasticating capacity: 115 g/sec (80 mm barrier screw, 24:1 L/D, 2.4-second recovery rate)
Injection speed: 1000 mm/sec (215 in3 injection volume rates for 0.3-seconds or less fill time—a 0.22-second fill time is necessary for this container)
Shot size: 34.5 oz (HDPE)
Tiebar spacing: 41.3 by 41.3 inches (wide platen); 34.5 by 34.5 inches (standard)
Price: TBD
Standards: Parallel operation of all movements offers full accumultaor-assisted hydraulics with highly dynamic valve technology in close -proximity to where it’s needed, plus energy-optimized hydraulics with fixed- and variable-displacement pumps; auto-protect -precision mold protection and monitoring of injection speed or pressure; electric screw drive; active clamp setup program for mold-to-machine speed optimization; dry-cycle time of just 1.7 seconds at 600 mm.
Options: Two additional bearings running on linear rails for stack mold center-section support; increased daylight extension of 200 mm; pneumatic shutoff nozzle on the main injection unit; programmed stroke-dependent pre-injection, and PD Graphics II—a graphical representation of the correlation between and frequent distribution of up to six selectable process parameters; Engel’s high-speed/side-entry Speedy robot.

Thank you for your request and your interest in our product.

On careful review of your application, we wanted to first address the matter of application, material selection, and wall thickness. It is noted that material with a melt flow index (MFI) of 30 to 40 is the most typical material grade selection for this type of application, in particular, for margarine tubs, and the target wall section specified would necessitate an 80-100 MFI in order to successfully fill. This thin wall with the high MFI material raises the concern of collapsing in the lidding machine and for the low temperature properties of the container when in use.

Based on industry norms using 30 to 40 MFI materials and a thicker-than-specified sidewall, Engel would propose the machine solution attached. Our estimation is that this part should run in the 3.8-4.5 second range. An 8-mm barrier screw (including nonreturn valving) with a 24:1 L/D ratio, providing 115g/sec plasticating capacity (based on HDPE) is our recommendation. We have determined the recovery rate provided is sufficient for this application at 2.4 seconds for recovery.

Injection volume rates of 215 in3/sec with speeds of 1000 mm/sec (39 in/sec) liner acceleration will give the flexibility to fill thin wall parts in 0.3 seconds fill times or less. The shot size capacity of this selection is 85 in3, or 34.5 oz (based on HDPE).

The tiebar spacing on this machine is 41.3 in2 for our wide platen machine. Engel also offers this in a standard platen size with 36.2 in2 between tierods. Since the mold dimensions will ultimately determine the exact requirement, this should be kept in mind when it comes to making the final selection.

Engel’s state-of-the-art training center in York, PA is the heart of our classroom and hands-on training capabilities, housing multiple machine types catering to each market. A significant portion of our trainers’ time is spent on-site at our customers, providing one-on-one training either tailored to your needs or working from our standard course curriculum.

Our product is supported by one of the few remaining stable, privately-held injection molding machine suppliers in the world. We provide in-the-field support and have over 50 direct service technicians covering North America. We believe we have the fastest machine on the market, and our state-of-the-art controllers featuring Active Clamp Setup allow the ease and flexibility to fine-tune and get the most out your process by reducing cycle times.

With our Speed Series, Engel continues its tradition of toggle-clamp technology in line with state-of-the-art developments. Systematic re-engineering in conjunction with an efficient hydraulic drive system is the essential basis of this series of high performance injection molding machines.

Husky Injection Molding Systems


HyPAC HL500 RS80/65
Clamping force: 550 tons
Plasticating capacity: Maximum recovery rate is 90 g/sec (PP)
Injection speed: 4678 cm3/sec (1539 mm/sec—instantaneous injection rate at 2/3 of maximum available plastic pressure up to 30% of injection stroke)
Shot size: Injection capacity up to 863 cm3
Tiebar spacing: 40.16 by 40.16 inches (1020 by 1020 mm)
Price: TBD

Standards: Our hydromechanical clamp design has a Euromap 6 dry cycle time of 1.8 seconds (we have actually run 2+ 8 molds for similar parts at sub-4-second cycles in 500-ton machines); clamp designed for stack molds, with up to a 1230-mm shutheight (48.42 inches) and up to a 1925-mm clamp stroke (75.79 inches); injection performance offers speed, control and repeatability, with typical fill times of similar molds of 0.1 second, allowing thinner walls to be molded; wide operating window with the injection unit designed to deliver very high throughputs and recovery rates with smaller diameter screws, allowing one screw size that can be used to comfortably mold both the container and the lid with excellent shot repeatibility; Husky’s Polaris control platform is an industrial PC machine control with a Windows-style operator interface.

Options: A machine-mounted stack mold carrier to provide platen machining and integrated stack mold center section support with a three-member mechanical linkage to open and close the stack mold; the linkage can be disengaged to allow the moving platen to be fully retracted for installation of molds with long sprue bars; a comprehensive stack mold cooling package; four air valves on the stationary and moving platen, pin-style shutoff for speed and drool control; a robot interface, as many packaging applications require automation.

Our HyPAC machine is designed to offer the highest machine performance available for high-speed, thin-wall injection molding. We recently conducted a mold trial for a part very similar to your 16-oz container with very successful results—we ran a 2+8 stack mold for a 13g PP 16 oz 410 container at a 3.9 second cycle. 

As compared to a more conventional machine, our system requires 10% less clamp tonnage which will result in longer tool life. We could arrange a demonstration of this stack mold running in a HyPAC 500 ton machine, if this would be of interest to you, Mr. Goode.

In addition to offering a machine that delivers the best performance and output, Husky also offers a complete suite of solutions to ensure that your Husky equipment runs with the lowest total cost of ownership throughout the product lifecycle. We have preventative and predictive programs that focus on ensuring that the equipment runs smoothly. However, should a problem arise, we provide access to a team of experts to solve problems through the free technical support line, and delivery of the right part to your facility in the shortest amount of time, with 24-hour part ordering availability.


Krauss-Maffei


KM 600-3500 C3
Clamping force: 660 tons
Plasticating capacity: 247 g/sec (with D80 screw)
Injection speed: 3016 cm3/sec
Shot size: 1543 cm3
Tiebar spacing (H-by-V): 1000 by 930 mm
Price: About $600,000.00 (about $900,000.00 with suggested options).

Standards: Two-platen clamp design provides highly dynamic mold movement and fast acceleration and deceleration; short dry cycle times, especially at short strokes are provided; floorspace savings are approximately 30% compared to other clamp systems; electric screw drive provides plasticating during mold movement; high rotation speed and high torque to generate high plasticating rates; its accumulator-assisted hydraulic system supplies high-energy density for single operations; accumulator assist also enables cycle time-saving full parallel movements; the plasticating unit’s shutoff nozzle effectively separates the molding and plasticating phases and enables independent parallel plasticating; stack mold support is provided at machine frame to allow high mold weights and to reduce mold wear, extending the mold’s service life.

Options: HPS or HPX plasticating units can provide extraordinary plasticating rates for specific materials and applications; high flow air valves and core pulling systems for fast and dynamic demolding; integrated hot runner control for easy machine setup and absolutely reliable process control; a fast side-entry robot with integrated control built by Krauss-Maffei; a complete, single-sourced production system can be provided with safe and simple operation for the entire cell provided by a single MC5 controller.


Our C3-range Sprinter Series convinces through versatility, Mr. Goode, meeting the high-performance plasticating and mold weight requirements of stack molds. At trade shows, our company has demonstrated the performance of the KM 600-3500 in the production of food packaging products by running a 2+ stack mold at extremely short cycle times of 4.5 seconds. The product was a food container of about 12 oz capacity and weighing 0.53 oz.

The high demands of the plasticizing capacity are met in practice by our proven, high-performance HPX plasticizing system. To achieve a particularly short cycle time, mold opening and closing speeds were optimized.

Special unloading systems are required for this performance class of machines. Moreover, the machine, mold, and unloading system must be precisely harmonized with each other.

Krauss-Maffei accepts the complete planning of such production cells, right up to turnkey delivery. Our machine and robot are run with a single controller. Operation is safe and easy. Our unique two-platen clamp design reduces floor space. And sales, service, and application engineers at our local organization provide you with excellent customer service that’s available right around the corner.

Netstal Machinery


Netstal EVOS 5500-4200
Clamping force: 605 tons
Plasticating capacity: 130 g/sec
Injection speed: 1000 mm/sec (upgradable to 1500 mm/sec
Shot size: 1,542 cm3
Tiebar spacing (H-by-V): 1020 by 920 mm
Price: $450,000-$500,000

Standards: A 27:1 L/D ensures a consistently homogenuous melt; its toggle clamp design provides the fastest opening and closing times in the industry (as measured by the Euromao 6 dry cycle test); the injection process is controlled with a closed-loop velocity transducer, which obviates the need for a calculation based on the distance travelled over time, allowing for very fast reaction times; a graphical interface to set up the injection process; built from the ground up to handle the ultra-fast cycles and high demands placed on the machine.

Options: Integrated hot runner control, allowing you to control the mold temperatures from the machine; dynamic entry control for the robot, letting you start the robot before your mold is fully open; prevention of the injection unit from colliding with the sprue bar during a mold change or a cleaning by inhibiting mold close until the injection unit has been retracted to a safe position; an option providing a valve to lock in the mold position to allow you to get the mold properly secured to the platen; increased injection speed up to 1500 mm/sec; optional second large valve for parts requiring high pressures and speeds.

We would reccomend a Netstal EVOS 5500-4200 with an 80-mm feedscrew. This is a 605-ton machine that is built with all the standard features needed for packaging. These features include an energy efficient electric screw drive, a central accumulator for fast injection and clamp motion, and many standard programming features that assure the fastest cycle possible.

Our machine control points out areas in your cycle where it is possible to run the process faster by noting where the machine is waiting for something else to happen. The feedscrew is a special design from Netstal that has been optimized for PP and PE, and includes a barrier section for optimum mixing of the melt.

We have a team of service technicians and applications engineers here in the USA ready to serve you. Included in the machine price would be free training and process optimization. Packaging is a world where tenths of seconds can mean profit or loss on a job. Our team will make sure that the machine is running the most optimum process, so you can have a chance to earn as much profit as you can.

We have an extensive inventory of spare parts in our Massachusetts headquarters and can ship parts same-day, if needed. We also provide on-call weekend support, so if you are running on the weekends, your people will have access to our support team.

Regardless, Mr. Goode, once again, thank you for this opportunity. We are eager to learn more about your application and provide a more detailed proposal.

Plastic Metal USA


Dynamika 650-6000
Clamping force: 698 tons
Plasticating capacity: 440-500 kg/hr
Injection speed: 7500 cm3/sec
Shot size: 3470 g (PS)
Tiebar spacing: 920 by 800 mm
Price: $450,000

Standards: An electric screw motor; accumulator assist for overlapping different phases of the cycle to reduce cycle time; ejector strokes, speed, and pressures are programmable and independent for ejector forward and retract; forged steel platens with a five-point toggle system engineered for maximum speed; the injection movement is actuated by two hydraulic cylinders for perfect alignment to the clamping unit.

Options: An IML-ready robot interface, hydraulic core pulls, at least three air ejectors with timers, automatic clamping force adjustment, bimetallic screw and barrel.

The Dynamika machine from NPM Plastic Metal has been dubbed “the Ferrari of performance injection machines” and is designed and built from the ground up to provide fast cycles and guaranteed performance. The true beauty of this machine is that most components needed for thin-wall speed, or even for a thick-wall project that needs an extra push, are standard on the Dynamika.

We offer the comprehensive solution, including complete, fully-automated cells to allow you to mold your parts with greater efficiency.

Our machines are very operator friendly, which will provide you with significantly less downtime, Mr. Goode. And there are seven programmable standard languages that will help all of your machine operators to easily navigate the control monitor.

Another key point is NPM Plastic Metal produces only a limited number of machines each year. We have found that this tradition helps us to better control the technical service needs of our customers. It also enables us to adapt to a more customized manner of production that is better suited to the needs of our friends, those whom other suppliers call customers. This has been our practice, our standard operating procedure, since 1954.

Stork Plastics Machinery


Stork S+ 6600-8650-R
Clamping force: 726 tons
Plasticating Capacity: 234 kg/hr
Injection Speeds: 1000+ mm/sec
Shot Size: 3690 g
Tiebar Spacing: 1000-by-1000 mm
Price: $600,000
Standards: Repeatability, high-speed, stable clamping unit with rigid platens, user-friendly operation, fast and responsive injection control, very repeatable opening position for robotic part removal
Options: Freely programmable air valves, programmable corepullers, clamping force measurement in every tiebar, robot interface with IML operation capabilities, integrated hot runners

Thank you for the opportunity to quote on this project of yours, Mr. Goode.

Stork has more than 40 years of experience in manufacturing high-speed injection molding machines and, as a result, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge for our packaging customers to utilize.

The Stork S+ Series I’d like to recommend is the recently introduced successor to our popular and reliable S series. It features a new drive system and significant modifications to its machine control system, both of which provide outstanding performance. You can choose the best drive to suit your specific requirements. And, by switching to our ECO mode, you could very well achieve a substantial reduction in energy consumption.

The machine is accumulator-driven and available either in a hybrid or fully-hydraulic version. It’s among the fastest injection molding machines on the market and is equipped with a five-point toggle clamping system engineered for high-speed operation.

As our customer, you can use our Internet-based remote maintenance feature. It enables our after-sales service team to help you diagnose any problems you might encounter and optimize your cycle time online. I also feel you will quickly become accustomed to our user-friendly touch screen machine control system, allowing you to take full advantage of each of our considerable number of machine features.

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