is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

PTi experiencing largest growth in company history

At NPE2012, Dennis Paradise, senior VP of sales for Processing Technologies International (PTi), told PlasticsToday the first quarter of 2012 was the "largest in company history" and that PTi "has a pipeline that's literally busting with real projects."

PTi recently announced the sale of its "dryer-less" twin-screw sheet extrusion production system to Site Plasticos, a Mexican thermoformer based in Guadalajara.

Site Plasticos will use the sheet extrusion system to produce roll stock made of RPET (both consumer and industrial recycle) for thermoformed containers for fruit and produce. PTi will play a key role as a supplier of additional dryer-less machines as the Mexican manufacturer looks to double its production capacity at the Guadalajara facility over the next three years, the company stated.

Site Plasticos was among several OEMs and processors who attended PTi's live customer demonstration on May 1 at the company's Aurora, IL headquarters. PTi stated the company received strong interest from attendees at the NPE2012 plastics exposition (April 1-5; Orlando, FL), which spilled over to the subsequent live demonstration.

At the demonstration, PTi ran several trials of the High-Vacuum Twin-Screw Extruder (HVTSE) technology running PET virgin, flake, and RPET bottle flake material. As a result, PTi expects to close on additional sales opportunities in the near future, according to Paradise.

This extrusion system is the only full-scale "dryer-less" twin-screw sheet extrusion demonstration system available for trials in North America, according to the company.

PTi recently announced a $3 million plant expansion at its headquarters in response to growing demand for its sheet extrusion equipment.

The company plans to increase overall plant capacity by 50% by adding 40,000 sq-ft of primary manufacturing and office space and will boost staff by about 20-25%, adding manufacturing, engineering, and some sales positions.

PTi is expanding its dedicated feed screw testing and development center along with an expansion of the current "dryer-less" twin-screw sheet extrusion demonstration center. The expansion will also include crane runways for primary assembly, production offices, new inventory and parts management space, and a new lunchroom.

The production-scale unit, which is capable of processing rates in excess of 2000 lb per hour (900 kg/hr), runs a variety of resins including post-consumer and industrial PET/PLA.

The process relies on Italy's Luigi Bandera's patented High-Vacuum Twin-Screw Extruder (HVTSE) technology, which allows PET to be processed without the need for raw material drying and crystallizing. It employs a single atmospheric and dual high-vacuum, vent system with a co-rotating twin-screw extruder. This approach allows moisture and other volatiles to be removed as part of the extrusion process.

"Flexibility has been the biggest advantage and selling point in North America," Paradise said. "It allows processors to respond to market changes very quickly, especially resin prices. Also, a lot of customers want to run PLA, they need flexibility, but can't have a dedicated PLA line."

The company touts one of its biggest advantages as being energy-efficiency. The twin-screw saves about 35% energy over single screw, Paradise said. 

"Twin-screws can run multiple materials on the same line with a fast changeover time, as little as 30 minutes," he said.

PTi has a strategic business alliance with Bandera to exclusively market the technology in North America. The demonstration line is available to sheet manufacturers for product evaluation using their own virgin and recycled materials.

Customers have the ability to run production-scale trials instead of scaling up from a small lab-scale pilot line that can often result in inaccurate estimations and unfavorable results, according to PTi.

Invista unveils new production technology for key nylon intermediate

Some $40 million in R&D and four years later, Invista says it has a new production technology for producing adiponitrile (ADN), a key ingredient for nylon 6,6 polymers and fibers. Invista says the benefits of the new ADN technology include improved product yields, reduced energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions, enhanced process stability and reduced capital intensity, compared to existing technologies. In addition, the company says the new process virtually eliminates benzene from the production process.Invista

Invista, which produces nylon intermediates and polymers, has been operating this new technology for more than two years at a pilot-scale facility at its research and development center in Orange, TX. It is now pursuing deployment plans with the option of installing the new technology at its existing facilities in Orange and Victoria, TX, in addition to a plant Invista is constructing in China.

Bill Greenfield, executive vice president of Invista's nylon intermediates business, said in a release that the Wichita, KS headquartered Koch Industries company is ready to deploy the new technology at a commercial scale with a formal announcement in a few weeks regarding the details on location and timing. Invista said its proprietary, butadiene-based adiponitrile (ADN) production technologies are reportedly employed in more than 75% of the world's existing ADN capacity.

Invista describes its Dytek brand of ADN as a high-purity, high-boiling aliphatic dinitrile liquid, and a key intermediate for hexamethylenediamine, which the company uses to produce nylon 6,6. The company says its ADN manufacturing technology is proprietary and butadiene-based.  

Successful companies—and their owners—should be applauded

Not an uncommon concern these days. Many companies—even the biggest OEMs—are holding onto their profits because of a lot of uncertainty in those regards. And that is just one thing that seems to be keeping the economy stifled.

However Rolando added one more sentence to his response: “Last but not least that now it is a sin to be successful.”

In response to that, another group member, a beautiful young woman named Amelia who appears from her photo to be Asian, queried: “It is a sin to be successful?”

Yes, Amelia, that is becoming a prevailing attitude among many in the United States. Hard to believe that in a country that was built on people coming here, starting businesses, and becoming successful—fulfilling the American Dream—that being successful is becoming frowned upon.

People’s stories have always intrigued me, and I love to hear the stories of those in the plastics industry who started mold making or molding companies with nothing but their skill, ambition and a few dollars in their pocket. I remember one gentleman who had a large mold making and molding company up in the Bay area of California. I did a plant tour there many years ago, and one of my interview questions was "how did you get started?"

Like many immigrants to the U.S., he had come to this country with $25 in his pocket. He’d been a moldmaker back in his native Italy, and easily found a job upon his arrival in the 1960s. It wasn’t long after that he founded his own mold making company, then got into molding and eventually became one of the biggest suppliers of molds and plastic components to a then-fledgling company called Apple Computer. He eventually sold his highly successful company to a larger molding corporation and retired. Going from $25 in your pocket to a multi-millionaire in the course of less than 40 years sounds impossible. But in the USA, anything is possible for someone who has the skills, ambition and business savvy (and perhaps being in the right place at the right time) to make it happen.

Companies are people, in spite of what we’re hearing, and they support the communities in which they operate. Recently, I received a press release from Hoffer Plastics, another American success story of a family-owned injection molding and mold making company. Fourteen of Hoffer Plastics’ employees spent a day working on an 1880s home in the Elgin, IL, Historic District that was being renovated by Habitat For Humanity of Northern Fox Valley. The day’s activities, which were sponsored by the Hoffer Foundation, included exterior painting, tiling the kitchen and trimming windows, doors and closets.

The rehab project was started in November of last year and required a considerable amount of work, including gutting and rebuilding most of the structure, taking care to ensure that the re-built home conforms to the standards of the Elgin Historic District and maintains the neighborhood’s integrity. The goal is to turn the house over to a local family of six by early Fall.

“The Hoffer family is proud to support Habitat for Humanity in Elgin,” said Gretchen Hoffer Farb, director of supply chain for Hoffer Plastics. “Giving back to the community is a core value of our company, and days like this give our employees an opportunity to live those values and help those in need.”

Bill Klaves, Habitat For Humanity’s development director, stated in a prepared release, “The Hoffer Foundation has been involved in Habitat For Humanity for a number of years, through its financial support as well as encouraging individual volunteer efforts.”

I truly believe that most successful business people are people who give back to their communities. There are exceptions, of course, such as those who took advantage of their company’s success and ended up in prison—we all know those stories.

Success, like most things, can be a blessing or a curse, depending upon what the successful person does with their success. But success in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Most of us who are working today are working for a company founded by someone who took risks, invested their time and money and became successful.

No, Amelia, being successful isn’t a “sin.” Maybe we need to look at the example Hoffer Plastics—and I’m sure many other companies in our industry—set for us, and let our success provide avenues for making life better for others.

Proprietary extrusion process targets metal replacement

Putnam Plastics Corp. (Dayville, CT), is commercializing a proprietary process for manufacturing custom monofilament fibers up to 0.100 inch (2.54 mm) in diameter from nylon, polypropylene and other materials. 

The goal is to use the large diameter medical monofilament for x-ray and MRI applications as a metal replacement.

jh
It's hard to maintain strength in large-diameter fibers, but Putnam Plastics says it has solved the problem with a proprietary process.

Oriented, large-diameter fibers provide substantial strength for applications requiring x-ray transparency or non-magnetic properties for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), according to Putnam Plastics.

"The convergence of minimally invasive devices and medical imaging technologies are increasing demand for non-metallic components made from high performance materials. These emerging device solutions are custom by definition," said Ray Rilling, general manager at Putnam. "There is no off-the-shelf source for medical monofilaments with diameters greater than 0.025 inch (0.64mm). Our monofilament lines are built for custom medical applications, with capabilities for processing the broadest range of sizes and materials for device prototypes through production." 

Custom manufacturing monofilaments between 0.025 inch (0.64 mm) and 0.100 inch (2.54 mm) requires increased extrusion volume and substantial draw down for orientation. This can present challenges in controlling diameters, maintaining strength performance and managing setup time and costs. 

Putnam said it has overcome these challenges by developing a proprietary extrusion process for custom monofilament manufacturing that controls voids and diameters, resulting in more consistent product performance.

Putnam's custom medical monofilament fiber capabilities range from 0.001-0.100 inch (0.025 -2.54 mm) in diameter and are available in materials that include polypropylene, nylon, polyester, polyurethane and thermoplastic elastomers. These monofilaments are non-magnetic, transparent to x-rays, lightweight and high strength, making them suitable for tension components used in minimally invasive devices and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Putnam Plastics has more than 30 extruders in its medical extrusion facility in a range of sizes up to 2 inches (50.8 mm).

AGY boosts fiber output in response to soaring aerospace composites demand

AGY has increased production of its S-2 glass fiber reinforcements by 20%, with the capability to further increase output as market demands dictate. An AGY spokesperson told PlasticsToday that the amount the Aiken, SC based company has invested is confidential, and that while there will be some job creation as a result of the capacity increase, the exact number has not been determined.

AGY S-2 glass fiberThe spokesperson said the fiber's primary market is in aerospace, where its unique reinforcement properties are critical to high performance applications like helicopter blades, aircraft flooring, interiors, and structural parts. The capacity expansion occurred at the company's facility in Aiken, SC. AGY has additional production sites in Huntingdon, PA and Shanghai, China.

AGY offers S-2 Glass fiber products that are designed to be compatible with phenolics, epoxies, polyesters, vinyl esters, rubber as well as many thermoplastic resins. The company S-2 Glass has tensile strength that exceeds that of standard-modulus carbon fiber as well as most grades of aramid fiber. AGY says that because S-2 Glass fiber has a high strain-to-failure of 5.7%, it has an exceptional ability to withstand high impact events.

The spokesperson said the boom in carbon-fiber composites, driven by projects like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, has helped increase interest in all fiber reinforcements. "As composites grow, the applications for carbon and glass fiber grow," the spokesperson said. "Generally, when an application uses carbon fiber there are ancillary uses for glass fibers due to the superior impact resistance of glass fibers. The adoption of carbon fiber composites positively affects the use of glass fibers."

Green bottles: Coca-Cola and Eco Plastics joint recycling venture opens in the UK

Calling it a first for the UK recycling and beverage industries, Coca-Cola Enterprises and plastic recycler Eco Plastics have established a recycling facility in the U.K. dedicated to processing both PET plastic bottles and other polymers simultaneously.

The joint venture, known as Continuum Recycling Limited, is a U.S. $24 million (Euro 18.7 million) recycling facility predicted to increase the amount of bottle-grade rPET currently produced in the UK to more than 75,000 tonnes a year.

A Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) spokesperson told PlasticsToday the purpose-built recycling facility will more than double the amount of rPET produced in Great Britain.

Previously, Coca‑Cola had sourced recycled plastic from Europe, while around two-thirds of used plastics packaging was exported for reprocessing.

Traditionally it has not always been possible to source the desired quantity and quality of rPET, the CCE spokespeson said. So the decision was made to invest in a system capable of delivering a step-change in bottle-to-bottle recycling in Great Britain.

"This investment will ensure that more plastic bottles will be processed for recycling in Great Britain, rather than being exported to locations around the world," the spokesperson said. "The used British packaging will be recycled at this new recycling plant for re-use in packaging that will then be sold right here in Britain."

As part of its wider sustainability program, CCE pledged to recover the equivalent of 100% of its packaging through its reduce, reuse, and recycle program by 2020. This includes the goal of ensuring all of its PET packaging in Great Britain will feature 25% rPET by the end of 2012.

CCE chose to partner with Eco Plastics because of its presence in the recycling business.

"Eco Plastics was already Europe's largest recycler of mixed plastic bottles, with the most sophisticated bottle sorting facility in Great Britain, so it can comfortably handle the mix of plastics collected across the U.K.," the CCE spokesperson said. "This is important to ensure that CCE produces high quality rPET that meets its quality standards."

ECO Plastics accepts various polymer streams, and the facility will use Buhler Sortex, Titech, and Eriez sorting systems.

DEFRA (UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Waste Minister, Lord Henley stated, "This investment builds on the public's enthusiasm for recycling and will make it easier for them to buy recycled plastic products such as the famous Coca‑Cola bottle."

2012 Olympics

The Continuum partnership is part of CCE's investment in a variety of sustainable packaging initiatives, which includes a commitment to help London stage a sustainable Olympic Games this summer. As part of this, Coca-Cola has committed to recycle all soft drinks bottles that are disposed of at Olympic and Paralympic venues and return into new bottles within six weeks.

"Coca-Cola is working with LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) to ensure London 2012 is the most sustainable Games possible and a zero waste games," the spokesperson said.

To achieve this, LOCOG's waste partner, Sita, will sort the contents of these bins and then the bottles will be taken to Continuum Recycling where they will be processed into food-grade rPET flake. This will then be transported to one of Coca-Cola Enterprises' six UK manufacturing sites and will be turned back into new bottles. Coca-Cola estimates 80 million new bottles will be created as a result.

"Sustainability is essential to CCE as a business," the spokesperson said. "The new Continuum Recycling facility is a great asset, and one of a number of initiatives helping the business to achieve this goal."

D&W Fine Pack sees growth potential for recent thermoforming purchase

D&W Fine Pack CEO Mark Staton told PlasticsToday growth potential is "promising" regarding the company's recent purchase of the thermoforming division of Clear Lam Packaging.

With annual sales of approximately $80 million, the Clear Lam thermoforming division is a supplier of food packaging containers made from polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid to North American food processors and retailers. The sale includes facilities located in Elk Grove Village, IL; Vernon, CA; and one international facility in Nanjing, China.

"It fits well with our existing technology base and widens our presence in the grocery/packer/processor market," Staton said. "Also the operation in China gives us a valuable base in a fast developing market in its own right. Allied with that, it gives us an opportunity to use it both for manufacturing and sourcing in Asia."

Regarding any future acquisitions, Staton said D&W will continue to appraise any additional vehicle that fits with its strategic vision.

D&W recently closed on the purchase of the assets of JetPlastica, a U.S. manufacturer of straws and plastic cutlery. Serving the market for more than 40 years, it operates two manufacturing facilities in Hatfield, PA and Fowler, CA. D&W Fine Pack will continue operations in both plant locations.

James Sanfilippo, president and CEO of Clear Lam Packaging, said D&W's growing product portfolio and manufacturing capabilities provided a strong complement to Clear Lam thermoforming's business.

"By combining Clear Lam's thermoforming division with D&W Fine Pack's portfolio of businesses, we could create additional scale to help improve economies and also offer a much broader product line to its customers," he said. "We expect that the new combined thermoforming business will capitalize on expected growth in this sector in the years ahead."

He said the sale of the company's thermoforming division allows Clear Lam to focus capital and R&D on its other operating divisions, which include flexible films, forming films, and its new CL polymers division.

Sanfilippo said the company anticipates growth in its CL polymers unit due to "the market demanding materials that are able to enhance the performance characteristics of bioplastics as well as traditional recycled plastics." CL polymers manufactures proprietary compounds that are designed to improve performance characteristics for both bioplastics and traditional petroleum-based plastics, he said. 

"We are committed to growing our other divisions by delivering innovative packaging materials and designs that offer solutions to the changing demands of the marketplace," he said. "Clear Lam is uniquely poised to capitalize on growing demand for sustainable packaging materials through its Project EarthClear initiative."

Project EarthClear is Clear Lam's program to commercialize new packaging technologies that minimize the impact on the environment, which includes flexible and rigid packaging made from renewable raw materials, bioplastics, and more.

Sounding off on PVC bans, biomaterials' pricing and antimicrobials

Widespread efforts under way today to replace polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in medical applications are largely a waste of resources and energy, says Len Czuba, the president of his own product development firm, Czuba Enterprises Inc.

PlasticsToday interviewed Czuba on what he considers the most significant trends taking place today in medical plastics.

g
Czuba is a former president of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
He is a former president of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), former medical device development engineer at  Baxter Healthcare Corp. and is listed as an inventor on 15 patents in the medical device field. Czuba holds a BS in biosciences from Southern Illinois University and has more than 30 years of experience in polymer synthesis, compounding, and material development in the medical device industry.

An abridged version of the interview follows:

PT: What are the biggest trends you see in medical plastics?

I'm actively involved in organizing conferences for the Society of Plastics Engineers and MD&M, and I see tremendous interest in bioresorbables. One example is the Abbott Vascular bioresorbable cardiovascular stent that is now in clinical trials in Canada. Bioresorbable screws and anchors have been used for a while with very good success. I think that's a hot market that will continue to grow. There are three big producers and they can pretty much tailor the resorption rates to whatever is needed.

PT: What materials do you see as the key players for bioresorbables? PLAs? Animal derivatives?

PLAs and the various copolymers available. People want to get away from animal-derived materials. There's a movement away from animal derivatives in additives already.

PT: What are the challenges with bioresorbables?

The big challenge is how do you successfully or easily process them. They easily degrade and they are very expensive, above $1000 a pound.

PT: Are high costs in general an issue for implantable plastics?

Victrex considers PEEK not so much as a plastic material, but as more of an orthopedic material. They won't even sell it to the molders; they will only sell it to the OEMs and let the molders use it on a consignment basis. It costs more than $1000 per pound. In some respects they can justify the high costs of some of these materials. But on the other hand I saw that Solvay is no longer willing to supply their standard grade of materials (for implant applications). They are now coming up with a special implantable grade as a replacement for what they used to use. I believe that it is wrong for them to use the need for implants opportunistically and believe it is abusive to users who have successfully used this same material for years. I find this an offensive business decision. They've gone from a polysulfone that cost less than $30 a pound, even less than $20 a pound, to charging $750 or more a pound. I also wish Invibio (Victrex's medical business) would become more reasonable with their pricing. The whole issue is, does the material really justify that kind of pricing? They could probably sell it for half of what they are selling it and still make a tremendous profit.

PT: What about efforts by hospital to phase out use of PVC for intravenous bags and tubing. Do you think that's a legitimate issue?

I don't. I'm still looking for legitimate science to indicate we should change, and so far I'm not finding it. People somehow got the idea that PVC is bad and the snowball started rolling and became an avalanche. I think there are three or four specific products that require non-DEHP PVC because the amount of extraction of the plasticizer is higher than is normally the case for drug infusion. I'm not convinced it is necessary, but I would say if you want to be on the safe side, go ahead and use alternatives.

PT: What about studies that are said to show that DEHP plasticizer can be an endocrine disrupter for infants?

It hasn't been proven. No one knows that for sure that the extracted phthalate plasticizer is the direct cause for noted effects. It's the same as people raising concerns about bisphenol A coming out of polycarbonate. Is it a concern? One researcher has been the primary antagonist, and most people who have looked into the issue and done studies are not concerned about it. If there are problems with PVC or polycarbonate, we should make changes, but so far nothing has been proven, at least to my understanding. PVC is a good material. We're wasting a lot of time and effort trying to replace a good material.

PT: How good are the substitutes for PVC?

There are a lot of good materials out there, but for everyone I've seen there is a tradeoff in properties or cost. I think that clarity is extremely important as is softness. The materials that I have seen as replacements have less clarity, are less flexible and will be more expensive to manufacture, resulting in a higher-cost material. That's why I was so shocked when I read that companies like Kaiser Permanente are saving millions of dollars by switching to the replacements. I don't see it. We've asked for some proof of this; they don't provide it.

PT: Do you represent the PVC industry in any way, Len?

No.

PT: There has been a lot of buzz about antimicrobials. What's your view?

I have mixed feelings about antimicrobials. I think they are good for some very specific applications. The way people are talking about them for across-the-board use, I don't think it's good. My concern is that when we tell people we are using antimicrobial products are we then leading them to be more lax in their care? That could be a concern because if products that are intended to be carefully swabbed and cleaned before use are not treated as carefully, might that not lead to more hospital-acquired infections?

PT: Do you feel that federal heathcare reform will have a positive or negative effect on the medical plastics business?

It's already having a dampening effect on business. From what I see, people are just holding their breath. It was similar to when (former president William) Clinton got to the White House and threatened a healthcare bill, everybody held off on investment spending. I see it to an even greater degree right now. The medical device tax is a cost that companies did not plan for. With costs becoming so tightly controlled, I think it will be more of a problem than a benefit.

PT: Thank you Len.

*****

Shawn Shorrock, Solvay's global healthcare manager, made these statements to PlasticsToday in response to Czuba's comments:

"Our industrial medical grades of polysulfone have never been offered for implantable applications. We had a strict nonimplant policy for industrial-grade materials. Anyone using them for implantable devices did so at their own risk. Our polysulfone has a long history of use for medical device applications, such as hemodialysis. In 2007, we launched our Solviva biomaterials business for implantable applications. And when we did that, that's when we started offering our Eviva polysulfone for implantable medical applications. It was priced higher than industrial products because it's offered in a totally different way. It's manufactured on dedicated assets, with strict adherence to validation, traceability and control. The governing quality-management system is based in ISO 13485, the same quality manufacturing system that is used by medical device manufacturers. Six of the largest medical device manufacturers have audited our production system. They want these types of controls in place. Then we have done complete, extensive biological evaluation and chemical characterization of these materials. We maintain a Master Access File with the FDA to support regulatory submissions on these products. Responsible OEMs want materials with high quality, tight manufacturing controls, traceability, and know that using materials without these controls means the introduction of significant risks. The higher prices for these materials are justified by the higher costs to produce them.

Redesigned robot integrates controls, shrinks footprint

A revamped robot line now offers an integrated control, smaller overall footprint, and a longer Z-stroke of up to 2000 mm. Wittmann calls the new W808 "a significant upgrade"  over the previous iteration, the W801. Martin Stammhammer, international sales manager robots and automation, said in a release that the W808 now has a completely redesigned mechanical structure, so that it is much closer to the design of the company's bestselling W818, without an increase in cost.Wittmann W808 robot

Stammhammer noted that the W808 is now well suited to work with the W818 and W821, carrying out fast-cycling operations on smaller sized parts. The W808 has a maximum payload of 3 kg and can be used with injection molding machines of up to 150 tons clamping force.

Suited for shorter molding cycle times, the robot has highly dynamic servo drives for all three axes. The fixed kick-stroke design has a reach of 600 mm, and the W808's horizontal stroke is available in lengths of 1250, 1500, or 2000 mm. The vertical stroke comes in lengths of 600, 800 or 1000 mm, and the system can be retrofitted with additional vacuum and gripper circuits.

"More and more molders are turning to automation, even of smaller parts, in order to protect quality and to increase production efficiency," Stammhammer said. In April, Wittmann announced an upgrade of its W821 robot line, boosting its payload and stroke.

UPDATED: KrausMaffei expands dual-platen machine range

KraussMaffei has extended its hydro-mechanical dual-platen injection molding machines in the medium clamping force range with the world premiere of its GX series. Launched at a customer event at its headquarter in Munich, the GX Series features a redesigned locking device and guide shoe, among other new features.

The company says the GuideX guide shoe, with a fixed bearing joint and optimized FEM design, ensures platen parallelism and smooth, energy-saving movements. The GearX locking system is arranged in a space-saving manner behind the moving platen and can reportedly be activated with the shortest possible time to continuously produce quick machine movements.

KraussMaffei GX Series injection molding machines
KraussMaffei GX Series injection molding machines
KraussMaffei GX Series injection molding machines GuideX
The expanded GX series injection molding machines from KraussMaffei feature a redesigned guide shoe (bottom) and locking device (middle) that reportedly boost productivity, repeatability, and energy efficiency.

Six machines in the new GX series, with clamping forces ranging from 400 to 650 tonnes, ran at the open house in Munich. In addition to the locking systems and guide shoe, KraussMaffei also touted easy accessibility of the clamping, ejection, and nozzle areas, as well the switching cabinets and pump. This accessible design is said to shorten set-up times and simplify maintenance.

Material-specific plasticizing solutions

KraussMaffei also offers material-specific plasticizing options, with screws optimized for everything from PC and PMMA through to PET, PC/PBT and even long fiber processing. KraussMaffei's Markus Betsche told PlasticsToday that his company can optimize any component along the injection unit for specific material processing. "Depending on the material and the task, anything can be customized," Betsche said. "Customer specific nozzles are in almost every machine. For different materials, we offer a lot of specific screws, and sometimes specific barrels and heating bands, as well."

The in-line injection unit has a rotary piston design that transmits force centrally via the injection piston to the screw. KraussMaffei says this direct path ensures precision and reproducibility, with the GX series also regulating injection pressure and speed as a standard feature.

Updated control

KraussMaffei also updated the machine control from the MC5 to MC6, which includes an Eco button, that the company says creates an energy efficiency optimized machine setting at the push of a button. "With the Eco function, the machine itself adjusts to the most efficient parameters and energy consumption," Betsche said.

Also new is SplitScreen technology, which shows the operator all important production processes at a glance. The MC6 also has an integrated ProcessDesigner tool that KraussMaffei says clearly presents all current processes in visual terms and enables you to modify them, depending on requirements, via drag-and-drop or swiping movements.

KraussMaffei says the modular design allows customers to specify injection units, clamping units, or drives. The fact that the machine center always remains at the same height, allows the press to be compatible with all clamping and injection unit combinations.

The GX series modular drive system offers the latest generation of the variable delivery pumps as a standard feature. Parallel movement of the ejector and core pullers is standard, and depending on the application and production cycle, the machines can be supplied with different PowerPack performance classes for more economical production.

The optional Blue Power Servo Drive technology, is said to further reduce energy consumption compared to variable delivery pumps, with savings from 10-30%, depending on the particular application. Compared with conventional hydraulic concepts on the market, savings of up to 50% are actually possible.

Integrated robot control

KraussMaffei also worked to integrate the linear robots from its LRX series with a shared control MC6 system and uniform protective housing. KraussMaffei says the LRX is ideally suited for pick-and-place jobs, as well as quick removal. The industrial robot (IR) guarantees maximum flexibility during complex demolding and a wide range of other assembly steps or production steps. With the integrated MC6, machine and automation can be controlled on any control panel, and programming with the WizardX dialog-based programming assistant is said to allow even beginners to create basic demolding processes in the shortest possible time.

Beta-tested and approved

A GX 550-4300 was delivered to WAFA Kunststofftechnik GmbH (Augsburg, Germany) in October 2011 for field tests in continuous production operation. WAFA's machine is equipped with a type LRX 250 linear robot, removing parts, placing them on a cooling/conveyor section, and separating sprues as required. Betsche said WAFA's machine is serving the automotive market, running PC/ABS and ABS, with some chrome-plated applications.