HPM FILES SUIT AGAINST HUSKY; INTRODUCES TWO-PLATEN PRESS

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CHICAGO — HPM Corp. technology has gone global at NPE 1997 — in both technology and patent disputes. HPM (Booths S2430, S2447) is showing its new Next Wave two-platen injection molding machines, which combine Hemscheidt retractable tie-bar technology from Germany with a new two-piece platen designed in Los Angeles by Stadco Inc. Neil Kadisha, Stadco's president and chief executive officer, also revealed that HPM has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Germany against Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. of Bolton, Ontario, over two-platen technology.

A top Husky official said Husky has received no notification about the suit and could not comment.

Husky is introducing its E-Series two-platen machine at NPE.

``HPM claims that [Husky's] E-Series has been copied from our machine,'' Kadisha said. He said the dispute covers the locking mechanism, among other areas. The patent suit was filed June 12 in a district court in Dusseldorf .

Kadisha discussed the suit June 15, the day before NPE started, during a discussion about HPM's product introductions.

But as of Monday, the first day of the show, Husky officials were not aware of any suit.

``We haven't heard a word,'' said Michael Koch, Husky's vice president of technology. Since Husky has not seen the suit, Koch declined to comment. But he said Husky thoroughly checked competing patents before making its E presses.

Kadisha said HPM is asking the German court for an injunction to stop Husky from selling the machine in Germany.

Stadco, a Los Angeles aerospace and defense supplier, acquired HPM of Mount Gilead, Ohio, last year. Then HPM followed by purchasing German press maker Hemscheidt Maschinentechnik Schwerin GmbH & Co.

This week marks the first NPE for the new, more-global company, which makes injection molding machines and extrusion systems.

In McCormick Place this week, HPM also is showing a Universal toggle press with components and some subassemblies sourced from Asia, Germany and Italy and final assembly done by Stadco. Stadco's Los Angeles factory also has started to machine platens for injection presses, according to Kadisha.

In other news, HPM announced it has sold two 5,000-ton injection presses to Saturn Corp., the unit of General Motors Corp. whose cars sport plastic body panels.

HPM is building its machines in Mount Gilead, Ohio, Schwerin Germany and Los Angeles. Kadisha said the company is dropping the Hemscheidt name.

At NPE, HPM is showing the following technology:

The hydromechanical two-platen press. Two of the Next Wave machines are running this week — a 2,200-ton press molding lawn chairs and a 600-ton press molding a wheel cover. The line runs from 360-5,000 tons, with shot sizes from 14 to 1,325 ounces.

HPM claims platen deflection is eliminated by its parabolic design, which uses a two-piece platen that allows for flexibility between the vertical platen and its carrier. The two are tied together by a patented, proprietary design. Both the moving and the stationary platen use the design. During NPE, the company is measuring deflection on each shot. The two-platen press is being built in Ohio and Germany.

Access tie-barless machines in clamping forces from 60-275 tons, built in Germany in the former Hemscheidt factory. Like the retractable tie-bar technology, tie-barless machines give access to the mold area for robots and mold changes.

After a 1995 patent dispute in Europe with Austria's Engel Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, former owner Alexander Hemscheidt struck a licensing deal with Engel. Alexander Hemscheidt is no longer affiliated with the company. At NPE, Kadisha said HPM claims intellectual property rights to some aspects of the tie-barless technology and Engel claims rights to other aspects. But he termed the two ``friendly competitors,'' and said he is confident they can resolve the issue.

The Universal toggle-clamp machine, in clamping forces of 95-560 tons. HPM said each machine has a package of standard equipment commonly offered by competitors as options that cost thousands of dollars more. Stephen Byrnes, vice president and general manager of injection molding, said sourcing parts and assemblies globally has allowed HPM to reduce the cost of the machine.

He declined to identify suppliers of the parts, but said final assembly is done by Stadco in Los Angeles.

In extrusion, HPM is showing a small single-screw extruder with a very high output. The machine has a 21/2-inch diameter screw, with a 50-to-1 length-to- diameter ratio. It is running a compounding line at 2,500 pounds of injection-grade high density polyethylene at 800 revolutions per minute. Ferdinand Pranckh, vice president of extrusion systems, said the output compares to a 6-inch single-screw extruder.

HPM also is displaying the new sheet extrusion system, jointly developed by HPM and Cincinnati Milacron Inc. Also new is a networked control system using an Allen-Bradley and a Reliance Electric drive. Allen-Bradley and Reliance are part of Rockwell Automation. The system also has Eurotherm temperature controllers.

Plastics News will run a business profile on Stadco and HPM in the Thursday show daily.