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Injection Molding: Tiny Town Welcoming Big Machine Developments
Oct 20, 2009

With NPE only recently ended, you might not expect much new equipment or processing technology to be revealed at Fakuma, the big injection molding show in Germany’s small town of Friedrichshafen. You’d err.

Maybe the manufacturers needed those few post-NPE months to get these processing cells tuned, or maybe it’s simply a cost-saving move: Many of the leading machine OEMs are within a few hours’ drive of Friedrichshafen, which hosts Fakuma from Oct. 13-17. Plus, the European molding machine market is about three to four times the size of that of North America. Regardless of the reasoning, the show once again will be a feast for injection molders.
 
The evidence? Exhibit A comes from Arburg (Lossburg, Germany), which early this year rolled out its new take on hybrid machines with its Hidrive range (see “
new take on hybrids” at plasticstoday.com). The Hidrive-equipped press running at Fakuma, an Allrounder 520 H with a clamping force of 1500 kN and a size 800 injection unit, will run a 32-cavity mold with a full hot runner system, processing polypropylene (PP) syringe barrels in 6-second cycles. Of the manufacturer’s nine presses at the show, five will belong to the Allrounder Alldrive (fully electric) or the Hidrive ranges.

Herbert Kraibühler, Arburg’s technical director, is plenty pleased with the company’s new Hidrive line.

Netstal’s Evos machine promises to pump out plenty of IML-PP containers.

Meanwhile, Engel plans to make a splash with multiple new developments, among them two new models: a fully electric e-motion 310/100 T press for cleanroom molding and an Engel victory 160 ecodrive. The former will process PP pipette tips on 6-second cycles; this will include injection plus camera-monitored QC and their placement on racks sorted by cavity. The latter machine replaces the 150-tonne size and, reports Engel, offers more space and flexibility. Engel says the victory 160 is the first fully hydraulic injection molding machine with the company’s servo-hydraulic ecodrive. Also new at Engel will be the first of its viper robots’ range.

KraussMaffei (Munich, Germany) will be hyping its thin-walled packaging strength on an all-electric molding machine, an EX 160-1000 fitted with the company’s Ultra injection unit, processing inmold-labeled PP (IML-PP) food containers in a two-cavity mold. An SR80 side-entry robot inserts the label bands in the mold, removes the finished containers from the non-operator side, and stacks them on a conveyor belt.
 
At the stand of Wittmann Battenfeld (Vienna and Kottingbrun, Austria), visitors will be able to catch a first glimpse of the company’s new entry into the all-electric machine competition, dubbed the EcoPower Series. Battenfeld had many years of all-electric manufacturing experience but halted production of these; in early 2008 auxiliary and robot equipment manufacturer Wittmann acquired the company.
 
Netstal (Näfels, Switzerland) will bring three presses to the event, including a thin-walled IML-PP packaging application on an Evos 3500-2000. Netstal introduced its Evos concept at K 2007 but has tinkered with it since; the Evos now is available with clamping forces from 3000-5500 kN.

Based on a hybrid drive technology, all axes on the Evos machines are individually and digitally closed loop controlled; this includes even secondary movements such as nozzle contact pressing. According to Netstal, all of this control makes for better process control and more precise and repeatable molding.

Driving in from Malterdingen, Germany is the team from Ferromatik Milacron, who promise to be running one of the company’s new Vitesse 300 presses, called “the fastest injection molding machines available” by the company’s Robert Trube, director sales and marketing. What more can one say? Well, the machines, first shown at an open house earlier this year and reported in a May NewsFeed newsletter, are equipped with an electric screw drive for parallel functions, which Ferromatik says is the driving force behind those short cycle times. Stability is provided via a reinforced machine base with linear guides.
 
We’ll report later with more detail on these as well as other innovations from Fakuma. The show, like most, has suffered somewhat in the current economic climate. From the exhibitor list in mid-September, it appeared only one Italian molding machine maker, BMB, would exhibit, and Husky and Haitian (and its Zhafir subsidiary in Germany) are no-shows. But with more than 1000 exhibitors, including many of Europe’s best moldmakers, MPW’s staff there won’t lack for things to see.