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CHICAGO — Battenfeld of America Inc. (Booths S1400, S1800), the U.S. unit of Germany's Battenfeld GmbH, is showing its HM injection press, demonstrating its Combiform molding process and running gas-assisted molding on an automated work cell.

NPE 1997 in Chicago marks the North American introduction of Battenfeld GmbH's HM (hydraulic modular) injection press. An HM press with 1,100 tons of clamping force is one of six presses on display at the Battenfeld of America exhibit.

Battenfeld, based in Gloucester, Mass., introduced the HM in Europe at the K'95 show, replacing its BA-T line. At the 1995 show, the HM clamping force range was 550-1,430 tons. Battenfeld now has significantly expanded the range, to 300-4,400 tons.

Interviewed before NPE, Battenfeld of America President Wolfgang Meyer said the machines will make the company stronger in large-tonnage machines in North America.

Battenfeld also has reduced manufacturing costs by expanding its modular component system to its entire injection molding product line, he said.

``We will take a larger portion in the big machines in the future,'' he said. As of April, Battenfeld of America had sold two HMs, both 880-tonners, to custom molders Altec Inc. of Liberty, Wash., and Clairson Industries Corp. of Ocala, Fla. Clairson is adding the machine to its new plant in Norcross, Ga. Several more have been ordered.

HM machines boast a two-stage hydromechanical clamp. One pair of hydraulic cylinders closes the platen and the other clamps the mold closed. The moving platen and injection unit ride on linear bearings.

The HM's Unilog 9000C controller includes a process setup page that suggests injection and part-cooling parameters based on the material to be processed.

``You can get the machine going. Then you can refine it,'' Meyer said.

Also in Chicago, Battenfeld is running a 220-ton BK toggle press to demonstrate its Combiform process, which combines coinjection with multimaterial molding. Combiform uses three injection units. Using coinjection, two injection units will mold a door bezel for a car with a soft skin of thermoplastic olefin and a foamed polypropylene core. A third, vertical injection unit, will mold a Battenfeld logo onto the part.

Two independent injection units with a special nozzle head make BM machines flexible enough to do either two-shot molding or an interval molding, alternating back and forth between the two materials to give a marbleized look.

A CDC machine will use gas-assisted injection molding to mold computer keyboard parts. A five-axis robot will remove the parts.