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When your supplier disappears

August 16, 1999

3 Min Read
When your supplier disappears

Editor’s Note: Last month we introduced you to new thermoset injection molding machinery systems from Milacron and Apex for molding thermoset materials like BMC. How do the new machines stack up against what’s come before? Can they deliver the kind of performance that will help thermoset molders recover from the loss of the Swiss-built Bucher presses? IMM visited the molder running the first Milacron/Apex production machine, Dickten & Masch Mfg., to find out.

It can run polyesters, phenolics, and thermoplastics. It’s the most versatile piece of equipment we have in the company,” says John Onzik, president of Dickten & Masch (Nashotah, WI), speaking about the 200-ton Milacron Magna 200 TS. Dickten & Masch, moldmakers and custom molders of both thermosets and thermoplastics, bought the first production model of the new thermoset molding machines from Milacron.

“I had been after Milacron to get them to build a thermoset press for years,” Onzik continues. “I’m so happy they’re finally in the business. Now we don’t have to go overseas for machines and parts.”

With decades of experience in molding thermosets, Dickten & Masch operates 25 thermoset machines from 35 to 350 tons. It has about 300 active thermoset molds. Most of its thermoset presses are Buchers. Most of its 45 thermoplastics presses are Milacrons.

Milacron’s new thermoset molding machines feature servodriven, twin-auger stuffers and other thermoset-dedicated components and systems from Apex Plastic Technologies (South Elgin, IL), engineered with the assistance of Murray Inc. (Buffalo Grove, IL). Management at both Murray and Apex were formerly with Bucher’s now defunct stateside operations, making the Milacron/Apex/Murray match heavenly for Dickten & Masch. Still, there were some initial concerns.

“We are very familiar with Milacron machines, but we were concerned that they didn’t understand thermosets,” explains Don Pirlot, plant manager. “Thermoset molding involves a few concepts that are alien in thermoplastics molding, like an absence of water manifolds and check rings, and other things like mold breathing and injection compression. That’s where Apex came in.”

Parts in a Day
Better technical service is one reason why Pirlot and others at Dickten & Masch prefer the Milacrons. “We can have parts in a day now,” explains mold technician Terry Pooth, “no downtime waiting for parts to arrive from overseas. We had a programming glitch in the machine controller, a Camac 486, as we were getting started. Milacron e-mailed the new program, it was loaded into the controller, and we had the problem solved in about 30 minutes.”

Pooth likes the machine’s open base, which makes cleanups that much easier. He also appreciates the accessibility inherent in the Magna design. And Milacron met Dickten & Masch’s list of performance specs and processing options, like CPM 9V and 10V screws and barrels.

Equally important, the company has found that the Magna TS provides good repeatability and molding accuracy that are better than a Bucher. “We’ve only quantified the improvements on a few products to date, but the repeatability is definitely there,” Pirlot says.

Then there’s the bottom line. With all of Dickten & Masch’s special options, the 200-ton Milacron cost around $200,000. Estimates are that a similarly sized Bucher would have cost 15 to 20 percent more. The price gap gets even more pronounced in larger tonnages.

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