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Articles from 2009 In December

Graham Packaging to make, market Tahara all-electric blowmolding machines in Europe

(Tokyo) has licensed Graham Packaging Company LP (York, PA) to manufacture its all-electric line of machines and market them in Europe. Tahara, which introduced its first electrically driven blowmolding machine in 1994, has issued a licensing agreement to Graham whereby that company will manufacture the machines at its Graham Poland factory, which also houses one of its three global technical centers, and market them in Europe through a Warsaw-based company. Graham Packaging is a leader in extrusion blowmolded containers for a variety of markets, including food and beverage, household, personal care/specialty, and automotive lubricants.

Graham Packaging, and Graham Engineering Corp. (York, PA), which manufactures extrusion blowmolding machines, evolved out of the Graham Group founded in 1960 by Donald Graham. Originally a design engineering firm, that business eventually spun off three manufacturing companies, which still exist today: Graham Packaging, Graham Engineering, and Graham Architectural. In 1998, founder Donald Graham sold a majority interest in Graham Packaging to investment firm The Blackstone Group. In 2004, it acquired O-I Plastic, a subsidiary of Owens-Illinois Inc., nearly doubling its size so that today it has 87 facilities and more than 8700 employees.

Tahara markets two lines of electrically driven blowmolding machines: the MSE/MB and MQ Series. The MQ is a tandem-style machine with two blowing stations and a maximum clamping force of 50 kN. Established in 1951, Tahara operates a 1866m2 manufacturing plant in Kitakasai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, with 64 employees. It opened a second assembly shop in 2002, and in 2006, The Japan Steel Works became its largest shareholder. Current export markets include Taiwan, Korea, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysis, Thailand, the U.S., Germany, and Sweden. —[email protected]

Pipe-profile tooling system cuts scrap, allows adjustable operation

A patent-pending tooling system for pipe and profile extrusion uses what it calls the world's first triple helix calibrator to provide precise adjustability during start-up and operation and dramatically cut start up, changeover, and production scrap. Called the Flextrusion system and produced by HG Engineering (McPherson, KS), the technology features a patent-pending adjustable pipe-sizing sleeve to provide precise adjustability during start-up and operation. In addition, HG says it has "rethought" the way extrudate is cooled with greater thermal efficiency boosting production rates. Specifically, the calibrator sleeve maximizes heat transfer efficiency to significantly improve cooling.

Flextrusion's adjustable pipe-sizing sleeve
Flextrusion's  pipe-sizing sleeve allows adjustments in start-up and operation.
Along with adjustability, the Flextrusion system features a double compression extrusion head that is said to boost product quality by conditioning the material and removing defects caused by die spiders and a lack of compression. An internal temperature sensor provides feedback on the state of the extrusion process, which HG says results in "robust and repeatable control" over wall thickness.

Hans Groeblacher, president and CEO of HG Engineering, told MPW that the system has been used in conjunction with extrusion grades of PVC, cPVC, ABS, PE, PP, PEX, and composite materials. Groeblacher reports that applications cover a variety of pipe and tubing products, including medical, gas, and pressure pipe from ¼-inch to 16-inches outer diameter (OD), with a variety of wall thicknesses. The company has received multiple orders for Flextrusion systems, with "extensive" production tests and evaluations on PE, PP, PVC, and gas pipes, according to Groeblacher. The Flextrusion head assembly has the patents pending for its double compression, X/Y adjustment, and internal temperature monitoring and control features. The calibration system is seeking patent protection for the multiple-helix adjustable-calibration sleeve assembly and the improved heat transfer in the calibration sleeve's front section. - [email protected]

Example of Cost Savings for PEX Production



Product Output Rate (lb/hr)



Cost of Materials ($/lb)



Operating Hr/Yr



Total Cost of Changeover Scrap/Yr



Total Cost of Changeover Time/Yr



Total Cost of Production Scrap/Yr



Total Cost of Lost Production Time/Yr



Annual Operating Costs



Total Potential Savings


Digitally decorate just about any part

A new range of specialty heat presses are said to be available in 2D sublimation and 3D sublimation models able to deliver complete digital decoration of complex products and surfaces. Called the Sublideck Surface Decoration System, the system is said to overcome limitations that prevented the use of high-end digital decoration on parts with complex designs.

The developer and supplier, Octi-Tech Ltd. (Sheffield, England), says the system uses a patented process that combines infrared heat and vacuum pressure to mold images onto 2- and 3D substrates and surfaces in applications such as automotive parts, consumer electronics, sporting goods, household appliances, architectural details, fashion products, mobile phones, and laptops.

According to Paul Hirst, managing director at Octi-Tech, “Sublideck 2D is an ideal system for small businesses wanting to decorate shaped items, while Sublideck 3D is truly a commercial-grade process to imprint onto complex surfaces.”

Sublideck 2D lets users decorate simple shaped products, curves, and dimensional items. Sublideck 2D uses a vacuum press bed, flexible top membrane and infra-red heat to create custom edge-effects for items such as switch plates and cell phone covers. The Sublideck 3D system uses the same combination of vacuum pressure and heat in a larger top membrane to wrap transfer film completely around complex shapes or surfaces. The firm also markets its TotalRelease Film, a flexible heat- and pressure-tolerant media specially formulated for dye sublimation inks. Images can be printed onto this film.

Sublimation works by heating sublimation inks that bond to a product’s surface when heated. For a substrate to be suitable for sublimation it needs to be able to withstand around 170ºC for about 1 minute. The substrate to be decorated must be either polyester-based or coated with a special polyester coating. The company also makes and markets its own range of coatings, which it says are suitable for almost any substrate (wood, metals, ceramic and so on). In the plastics world, it says plastics that can be directly decorated without coatings or pre-treatments include PET, PBT, POM, and polyamides. [email protected]

UV protection is in, yellowing is out, and costs are down

New ultraviolet protection additive masterbatches are said to give polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging the clarity that is desired without adding the yellow tinge common with these additives. According to the supplier, Ampacet (Tarrytown, NY), its CrystalClear PET UV additive masterbatch is 75% more effective than standard UV additives for PET and brings with it greater packaging clarity.

Unlike standard PET UV technology, which sometimes imparts a yellowish tint to the package, the CrystalClear product helps processors realize clear packaging with UV protection up to 380 nm. Ampacet says the product’s greater efficiency can lead to savings since less than half the normal amount of UV additive is required. For a standard bottle application, a loading ratio of 0.5-1% is recommended, dependent on bottle thickness. Also according to Ampacet, CrystalClear is less volatile and more soluble than standard additives, and it won’t contribute to plate-out during molding. [email protected]

Film extrusion: Polypet expands with new 5-layer line; 3-layer on order

Polypet has taken a 5-layer line from extruder systems manufacturer Rajoo Engineers. For Polypet this is the ninth 5-layer line in its program, and the system will be used to process barrier films.

Rajoo (Rajko, India) highlights the line as symbolic of its ongoing push into the barrier-film-line market, which as yet has been dominated by European and North American film extrusion manufacturers. The line acquired by Polypet also ran at the Plastindia expo and the processor in fact placed its order during that show. According to Rajoo, it is the first such barrier-film line manufactured in Asia.

For Polypet (Nagpur, India), the new line from Rajoo includes two 60-mm grooved-feed extruders for the inner and outer layers and three 55-mm smooth-bore extruders for the middle three layers, with film running through a 400-mm UCD (Universal Co-extrusion Die) stack-type die made by Rajoo, and an internal bubble cooling (IBC) system. An integrated conveying, gravimetric blending and dosing system was sourced from a German supplier. Film thickness is measured using two capacitive sensors with 0.1-µm resolution that are mounted on a rigid O-frame scanner, which is mounted after the nip rollers. The film is wound on a back-to-back dual-station surface winder with taper tension control, producing 1m-diameter rolls.

The machine will be extruding 75-µm barrier film with a 15-µm nylon layer and 1010-mm lay-flat width, for an output of 240 kg/hour. Polypet also has ordered another 3-layer blown-film line from Rajoo to pair with one already in operation at the processor. [email protected]

Extrusion machinery highlights 2009

Here, in no particular order, is my personal lineup of the top five stories this year out of the ranks of the world’s extruder manufacturing industry. Leave a comment if you agree, or, better yet, disagree.

1. Reifenhäuser acquires Kiefel Extrusion
Big news? You bet. It was the first really big M&A activity among film extrusion manufacturers in years, and almost certainly not the last, according to the rumor mill: with an eye on the exchange rate, North American outfits are being pursued, albeit not too aggressively, by some European extruder manufacturers.  


2. W&H packs 'em in for open house
Why is this important? One, because W&H is a powerful player in the blown-film extrusion systems industry, and that three-layer line is pretty unique (read much more in our next issue), but even more because it illustrates the willingness of processors, even in tough economic times, to travel great distances to get a close-up look at new technology. 


3. Gloucester, Kolsite join forces for film lines
Big news because it involves two storied machinery manufacturing firms, is illustrative of the global nature of the business, and because India is well on the way to becoming a major market for multilayer/complex film extrusion. 


4. Coreless winding cuts transport costs, pleases Walmart
Development of coreless winding systems is underway at extrusion system manufacturers around the world, as this article illustrates, and it’s little surprise when one considers the potential savings. Plus, these developments have the added benefit of fitting well in the "sustainable processing" movement.     


5. Can a worn extruder screw cause surging?
OK, admittedly a shameless plug for our newly launched Extrusion Forum, but the news is that peer-to-peer information sharing is a great tool for processors. This is not counter-intuitive to #2: plastics processors—and everyone else—still want the personal touch and will travel far to trade shows and open houses to get it, but there is a world’s worth of information available for free from your desktop. My recommendation: Register and be an active participant at our Forum, and also join a worthwhile social networking site (my vote: LinkedIn, with plenty of relevant groups for plastics processors).


There were many other stories this year; for instance, I really enjoyed my colleague Tony Deligio’s interview with the only film line manufacturer who ran a blown-film tower at NPE. Every person’s list probably will be influenced by his own experience. Your feedback and own personal highlights are very welcome at [email protected].

Complex line stands behind household brush production

By adding a 6-axis robot to the production cell, moldmaker Zahoransky was able to save its customer up to 75% of its complete production cycle time by better synchronizing the molding process with downstream processes so that, in effect, the injection time equals the cycle times at the external cooling and demolding station.

The entire mold block is transferred to the cooling station
The customer, an unidentified manufacturer of household brushes, recently took delivery of the fully automatic production cell and is using it to produce a wide variety of different injection molded brush elements. Zahoransky reckons it can prove helpful for other molding projects especially of thick-walled parts that are required in small quantities but in different sizes and colors.

The production cell consists of a multicomponent injection-molding machine and an external demolding and cooling station made in-house by Zahoransky (Freiburg, Germany). The connecting element between the three production stations is a 6-axis robot which allows the individual phases of the injection molding process to be synchronized, a step the moldmaker says will save its customer as much as 75% in cycle time, particularly for thick-walled components. In short, the robot ensures that the molding machine’s injection time equals the cycle time of the external cooling and demolding station.

After injection, the robot removes the entire mold block and places it in the single rack of the cooling station. At the rack, the robot grips a cooled block from another rack and swivels it to the demolding station, which also was developed by Zahoransky. A second robot takes the finished parts and places these in a storage box. The 6-axis robot returns and mounts the empty mold in the molding machine, and reaches for the newly filled mold at the ejector side. A new cycle begins.

Flexibility is realized in terms of shape, size, and color. The injection molding machine used is equipped with five injection units. Using the four side units, the skin of the component can be molded in different colors. The core material, recyclate with a blowing agent added to it, is then injected. For each product, a separate and distinct software menu for the process parameters of every component is stored in the SPC developed by the system supplier. Between shots, automated production processes for as many as 24 different products in a maximum of four colors are feasible at the same time. According to the supplier, there is no downtime during color or mold changes. Matt Defosse

Celanese set to acquire German LFT maker Fact

Officially the purchase is made by Ticona’s parent company, Celanese. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Ticona (Kelsterbach, Germany and Florence, Kentucky) offers its own Celstran line of LFTs; these are based on a polypropylene (PP) matrix.

FACT, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and employing about 60, was started as a private company in 1998 with three employees and two compounding lines, but by 2006, when MPW visited the company, it had grown to 50 employees and eight compounding lines. The compounder offers a wider variety of compounds than Ticona, using various matrix materials and also not only glass but also carbon and aramid fibers.

Belgian plastics supplier Ravago Group acquired FACT in 2005. In 2006 it acquired the Pryltex-brand
long glass fiber polypropylene production business of Arkema (Paris, France).

Within Ticona,
FACT will become part of a newly established business called Celstran GmbH and will be managed under the umbrella of the Ticona organization. The existing Celstran production in Kelsterbach, with its 25 employees, will be relocated to Kaiserslautern by mid-2011. Ticona already needed to move its production in Germany, as an already-approved extension of the Frankfurt Airport would have placed the company’s plant into a zone deemed unsafe incase of an airplane crash.

After long legal haggling,
Fraport, the airport manager, agreed to pay Ticona €650 million for the costs associated with the transition of the business from the current location and the closure of the Kelsterbach plant.

The year 2009 saw considerable jockeying within the LFT market. PolyOne entered the market late in the year; to now it is having its orders toll compounded by PlastiComp (Winona, MN). Plastics supplier Sabic Europe (Sittard, The Netherlands) is bringing online now a 140,00 tonnes/yr compounding site in Genk, Belgium for PP and LFT compounds. The company earlier this year acquired RheTech Inc.’s (Whitmore Lake, MI) RheMax product line and obtained a toll-manufacturing agreement with the company for Sabic’s line of Stamax LFT-PP materials. Under terms of that deal, existing RheMax products will be integrated under the Stamax brand name, with product formulations maintained.

Materials inventory status, anytime, anywhere

The core components of the solution are BinMaster’s SmartBob2 or SmartBob-TS1 sensors mounted on the bins or silos; a wireless or wired data communications network; a gateway to provide connectivity to a personal computer or IP network; and data collection software that can be viewed by any authorized individual via an Internet connection.

BinLink offers real-time 24/7 monitoring and features end-to-end encryption and authentication to ensure data is safe and confidential from the bin to the corporate office.

“The genesis of BinLink came from customers demanding an IP-based inventory-management solution,” says Todd Peterson, VP of sales for BinMaster. “The SmartBob devices provide the ability to monitor bulk inventory at a particular site. BinLink takes it one step further to give authorized users the ability to look at any tank, silo, or bin anywhere in the world.”

BinLink also allows users to set automated alerts to their Blackberry or cell phone, ensuring the proper levels of inventory. It’s ideal for multiple facilities and facilitates bulk material buying for every plant. SmartBob-TS1 can be used in tanks up to 40-ft tall, and the SmartBob2 can be used in silos up to 180 ft tall, explains Peterson. “Users can schedule measurements to be taken at various times during the day, either every so many hours, or at the end of every shift,” he adds. “Many companies have fewer people to take the inventory, and BinLink makes it easier to manage inventory.”

BinMaster is a division of Garner Industries, a custom injection molding and job-shop machining operation. Peterson notes that the BinMaster proprietary business has been growing steadily over the years, and the company serves all types of industries in addition to the plastics industry, including food processing and agriculture. Clare Goldsberry

Names in the News: December roundup

as the head of the profile extrusion product group. Kessler has worked at KM for almost 10 years, including time in Shanghai. In 2003, he was appointed head of extrusion sales in Asia/Oceania. Hofhus has been with KM’s Extrusion division since 2003, working as the area sales manager for Eastern Europe since 2007. Oswald has worked in the extrusion industry for almost three decades and has been with KM’s Extrusion division since 2001. Since October, he has been the Area Sales Manager for Europe.

Extrusion equipment supplier Windmöller & Hölscher Corp. (Lincoln, RI) has added Bob Duren and James Nelson to its North American staff. Duren will work as business development manager for W&H’s Form-Fill-Seal Division. Prior to joining W&H, Duren was the division manager at palletizing and material handling equipment supplier Beumer Corp. Nelson was named technical manager of Extrusion Systems. He came to W&H with more than 11 years experience in blown-film extrusion, most recently working for W&H competitor Kiefel.

A. Schulman Inc. (Akron, OH) has named Liu Hao as sales manager for China and Mannar Mannan Shanmugam as sales manager for India. Both will report to Alice Chan, business unit manager, Masterbatch Asia. The two will be responsible for growing A. Schulman’s customer base in their respective markets, which are described as “key” to its future growth. Liu has 15 years of experience in plastics, while Shanmugam has 20 years of experience in the development, production, and marketing of biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film products. A. Schulman said the positions were necessitated in part by its proposed acquisition of ICO, which will broaden its presence in Asia.

Automotive parts supplier ABC Group Inc. (Toronto, ON) has appointed Helga Schmidt as chairman and Mark Poynton and Robert Kunihiro as co-managing directors. Helga Schmidt is the wife of deceased ABC Group founder, Mike (Matthias) Schmidt. Poynton joined ABC Group in 2001 and most recently served as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Kunihiro most recently served as executive vice president and chief financial officer: a position he has held since 2007.

Bunting Magnetics Co. (Newton, KS) has hired Paul Scott as a design engineer for its material handling product line. Scott, who has a mechanical engineering degree from Kansas State University, will focus on designing custom material-handling equipment and assisting in the automation of the design process through the expanded use of software applications.

Polyurethane products supplier Arnco (South Gate, CA) has hired Bill Hory as its (GEO) Green Enabling Officer, making him responsible for designing, implementing, and communicating Arnco’s evolving sustainable initiatives. Arnco’s corporate headquarters are in based in California, with production facilities there, in Berea, OH, and in Manchester, England.

Motion Controls Robotics (Fremont, OH) has named Earl Raynal as sales manager. The supplier of integrated material handling robotic systems will task Raynal with overseeing current accounts and developing new ones in a variety of industries including consumer products, plastics, food & beverage and general industries. Raynal has 26 years of experience in the material handling industry.

Medical molder MRPC (Butler, WI) has added Brunson Parish as a senior process engineer. Parish has 13 years of experience in process engineering. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from UW-Platteville in industrial engineering/plastics engineering, Parish went on to become a Silver Certified Moldflow User. He has also completed RJG’s Systematic Molding I, II, and III, training. Parish will be responsible for reviewing potential products for manufacturability, ensuring successful product development, and assessing and implementing emerging manufacturing and processing technologies.

Injection molding machine manufacturer Sandretto, acquired in 2008 by Indústrias Romi S.A., Brazil’s leading manufacturer of machine tools, injection molding machines, and blowmolding machinery, has named Steve Lacey as its new sales manager for the company’s European subsidiaries.

In a bid to streamline its technical service and customer support, and speed spare parts’ shipments, the company consolidated these services for its European subsidiaries and named as manager of these Andy Roberts. Managing sales and service for Sandretto’s home market of Italy and for those markets where it has no subsidiary is Fausto Rinaudo.

In related news, the company organized an open house in early December at which it displayed its new range of EL electric injection molding machines, designed by Romi in partnership with Sandretto. The machines are offered in clamp-force sizes ranging from 75-1500 tons. Sandretto has two factories near Turin, Italy.

Plasticizing screw, screw tip and barrel manufacturer Zeiger Industries (Canton, OH) announced that Stan Glover will rejoin the company as director of sales, effective January 4, 2010. Glover will oversee the company's domestic and international sales efforts for its proprietary line of Mallard Z4 non-return valves and ZPM through-hardened tool steel screws. Glover most recently was marketing manager for tool steel supplier Crucible Service Centers. Glover first worked for Zeiger Industries during the 1990s as technical sales manager.

Custom compounder Teknor Apex Company (Pawcatuck, RI) has named Rod Fischer to be the director of sales for the company’s Vinyl Division. Fischer joined Teknor Apex in 2000 and has been working in the PVC compounds division as its western regional sales manager. Fischer replaces Jack Loiselle, who is retiring after leading the division’s sale program. [email protected]