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August 27, 2000

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Five, count 'em,five big thrusters helped Netstal's new SynErgy 6000 660-ton lowrider cycle an 8x8 Tradesco stack mold running 16-oz PP packagingcontainers at the show in 4.7 seconds. It dry cycles at 2.5 seconds.Only the injection unit drive system is electric on this hybridracer. Everything else is driven by accumulator-assisted fluidpower. It's got what it takes for high-volume thin-walling withhigh-speed stack molds. Expect 440- and 550-ton models soon.


Dima's Two-for-OneDebut

PhillipKim of Dima, an NPE first-timer, says the reason for his company'sbuy-one-get-one-free splash was simple. "Nobody's ever heardof us here before." Kim wanted to draw attention to Dima'spress technology, and to show the company's confidence in it withthe offer. Dima molding machines (from 30 to 5500 tons) are manufacturedby Dongshin Hydraulics, Korea's largest press maker. A 180-tonall-electric was on show in Chicago, along with a 250-ton two-platenhydromechanical; a high-speed 350-ton toggle running a 4x4 Yudostack mold in 7-second cycles; and the 750-ton twin platen shownhere. All Dima machines are closed loop, with Bosch hydraulicsand Barber-Colman controls as standard. Kim says the two-for-onedebut also drew attention to the company's name in another way. "Dima" stands for Double Income MAchine. "Theyare inexpensive, but you get better performance, too," heconcludes.


Xtreem Integration

This businessof using a PC for a machine control, as Milacron does with theXtreem, also lends itself to integrating other functions intothat control. One such application demonstrated was mold monitoring;Avalon Vision Solutions' PlantVision software was integrated intoseveral Milacron machines via the Xtreem NT controller. PlantVisionOEM is an imbedded component system that can be run on any moldingmachine or auxiliary equipped with a WindowsNT-based controller.There's no need for a separate system; the display of the moldtoggles with the machine control display, and production is stoppedif a stuck part is detected.


Remember Reed?(2000 edition)

Aleading Brazilian molding machinery OEM did. But how could Indústrias Romi forget the patriarch of U.S. molding machines? After all, Romi got started building machines in 1972 through a Reed license. Ready to grow into North American markets, Romi contacted Reedthrough the Web, and, offline, they struck a new deal. Red, white,and blue horizontal toggles-like the fully closed loop TR330 Reed-Romidebuted at NPE 2000 with a starting price of $135,000-will beavailable from 75 to 2000 tons, from Reed-Prentice.

The Time Machine


Epcohas to win an NPE 2000 display creativity award. At a VIP andmedia event before the show's opening, Epco's Steve Shroeder tookthe tarpaulin off a 1973-vintage Van Dorn machine. Half the machinewas in its sorry as-delivered state, but the other half was dramaticallyremanufactured to SOA perfection, right down to its E-500 controller,Epco's latest, low-cost upgrade. On the more serious side, Epcoannounced the creation of the Epco Audit for ANSI standards. Itwas formed to help molders prepare for the new worker liabilityrules that went into effect in July.

Moldmakers,Part 1

Wasit just us, or did NPE 2000 seem more international than everbefore? New molders, moldmakers, and molding machinery manufacturersfrom offshore came seeking new growth horizons in U.S. marketsand landed at the Chicago beachhead in record-setting numbers,particularly from the Far East. There were 13 companies at theHong Kong stand; 16 companies in the Korea die and mold pavilion;and 17 companies in Taiwan's, including Ding Chang Steel Mold.
Ding Chang's Wayne Yu (far right) told IMM that his company'scapabilities in building molds for thermoplastic and thermosetelectrical parts are already very well known in Scandinavian countries-sowell known, in fact, that Ding Chang qualifies its customers.It has 20 moldmakers and is an all-CNC shop, running Pro/E CAD/CAMsoftware, specializing in hot runner and multiundercut molds.Yu prefers not to do business through any trading company or middlemen,but he wants to do business here. That's why he came to Chicago.


Low-Pressure,Laminated Auto Door Panels

Thisdemo at the Krauss-Maffei booth was among the most entertainingat NPE. The mold, a product of Delta Tooling Co. (Auburn Hills,MI), produces door panels with inmold laminated vinyl fabric ina low-pressure process comparable to injection-compression. The1400-ton press, also owned by Delta, is from the K-M Decoformline. A robot starts by inserting fabric in the mold; the moldcloses to about 90 percent, leaving a small gap in the partingline. Material is injected through three gates behind the fabricin a low-pressure environment that preserves the integrity ofthe fabric. The mold then closes completely, forming the just-injectedresin as a backing to the fabric. Other gates below the fabricalso fire, molding the lower half of the door with armrest, pocket,and speaker grille.


Moldmakers,Part 2

There were moreEurope-based moldmakers at NPE 2000 than you might have thoughtby looking in the show guide. Besides those visible in their ownbooths, such as the large Portuguese delegation in the East Hall,there were several others operating in the booths of other companies,many of which were machine suppliers with whom they have strategicpartnerships.
These moldmakers approach the U.S./Canada market from variousangles, but they are almost unanimous in saying that the moldson which they bid and sell are often complicated, requiring thelatest moldmaking technology, and they are definitely not beingsold on low price.
The Portuguese moldmakers that years ago entered the Americanmarket touting low costs have invested in leading-edge technologyand now produce more complex tools than even just a few yearsago. Do these European moldmakers think the tool business is becomingmore global?
Absolutely. This is why they come to NPE-not to sell low-pricedmolds, but to show off carefully developed specialties.
For example, Foboha of Germany had its own booth to display itssophisticated multicomponent, multicavity molds for packagingand other applications. You could also see Foboha molds hard atwork in live demonstrations in the Ferromatik Milacron and Netstalexhibits.
European moldmakers are aware that they currently have a pricingadvantage, thanks in the main to the strong dollar, but many signedon for NPE years ago, when the dollar was not so strong. Thesemoldmakers come to sell value and high-technology specialties,and the market appears ready and willing to buy.


Moldmakers,Part 3

Domestic moldmakersturned out in a big way for NPE, and many are finding successby developing global relationships. Greg Smith, engineering managerat Dyna-Plast Inc. in Ramsey, MN, says that he had two large customerstell him that if he wanted to remain a supplier that he'd betterpartner with an offshore mold shop.
"They want us to invest in the tool, do the design work andpreproduction tooling, but want the production tooling to go offshore,"says Smith. "They want me to be the best man. I've done allthe work but I don't reap all the benefits."
Still, as reluctant as Smith is, he adds, "I don't believewe can last another 20 years without partnering with offshoretooling shops."
Jim Meinert, director of International Marketing for Snider MoldCo. Inc. in Mequon, WI, notes that "a third of our work comesfrom foreign sources." In addition to work done in Mexico,South America, and China, Meinert recently returned from a tripto South Africa where he talked to automakers and a pallet makerabout providing molds.
Some mold shops are doing more than just partnering or locatingwork offshore. Advanced Quality Molds in Mason City, IA boughta mold company in Marinha Grande, Portugal. "We went on aglobal search and ended up in Portugal," explains MichaelCastek, vp for AQM. "In Portugal there is more expertiseand it's easier to get skilled people. Molds are pretty equalto what you can find here, at about 15 to 25 percent below thecost of a U.S. mold."
Castek says that customers are typically willing to pay a littlemore for a U.S.-built mold. How-ever, lead time is really thecritical factor. In buying the company, rather than partnering,AQM is "trying to combine the best of both worlds-the expertiseof its moldmakers combined with U.S. technology and productionplanning techniques," he explains. "Production planningis a weakness there."

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