Suncast embraces Kautex technology

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: November 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Blow Molding

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 13, 2:25 p.m. ET)  — Suncast Corp. built its business on injection molding of hose reels, storage products and garden sheds, but two years ago, the company in Batavia, Ill., got into blow molding — in a big way.

Suncast bought extrusion blow molding accumulator-head machines featuring a technology that Bonn, Germany-based Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH originally developed for blow molded gas tanks, using a split parison stretched out into two large sheets.

It’s a new way to blow mold large flat panels. The traditional method — turning a parison shaped like a big round balloon and into a flat panel — is a major challenge.

Kautex’s solution: Start with a flat parison. In that shape, the plastic does not freeze off while in contact with the mold and thin the outside edges.

“Suncast decided to step out of their comfort zone, with a supplier,” said Chuck Flammer, vice president of sales for North America at Kautex Machines Inc., based in North Branch, N.J. “We took a company that was an injection molder and turned them into a blow molder.”

The first Suncast part using the blow molding technology was a garden-deck box with a simulated woven pattern molded in. The company also blow molds components for sheds.

Suncast and Kautex announced the news in April at NPE2012. But Flammer gave more details and historical perspective on the so-called “flying knives” technology in a presentation Oct. 9 at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Blow Molding Conference in Pittsburgh.

Kautex Maschinenbau is, by far, the biggest maker of systems to blow mold automotive fuel tanks. Flammer said 85 percent of the plastic fuel tanks worldwide are blow molded on Kautex machinery.

That position was threatened in the early 2000s when thermoformed fuel tanks made inroads. Flammer said twin-sheet thermoforming had an advantage over blow molding by making it easier to put components inside the tank, rather than having to attach them from the outside. Stricter regulations limiting vapor emissions helped drive the change.

“So what we had to do was … take that idea of putting stuff inside the tank without losing the six-layer parison,” Flammer said. “We take it and we actually split it into two sheets of six-layer plastic.”

The patented “flying knives” process never took off in automotive fuel tanks, Flammer said. But Suncast has a good application in household and garden products.

A decade ago, Kautex engineers developed a way to spread the continuous round parison into two halves, allowing access to the inside of a fuel tank. Flammer played a video showing the process. The big parison hangs down, then two spreader pins stretch the parison into a long, flat shape. A mechanism also grips the parison.

  Flammer got chuckles when he said: “In German we call this the Holy Scheisse moment — for us to use blow molding and basically have it act as a thermoformer.”

Knives cut the spreader pins out of the parison, which then goes into a mold.

Flammer said Suncast had outsourced its blow molding. On some sheds, it injection molded two halves and welded them together. But officials wanted to bring blow molding in-house.

“These [products] should be blow molded,” Flammer said, “They’re large, large parts that have to have some structural rigidity. And doing it in blow molding, already having that double-wall structure will give you that.”

Spread-parison technology cuts cycle time 65 percent over regular extrusion blow molding, Flammer said. Kautex closely controls the parison, providing equal wall thickness across the part and minimizing warpage, he said.

Kautex and Suncast have declined to say how many Kautex machines Suncast purchased.

But industry sources have said the investment was for six to eight machines — a major order for the accumulator-head blow molding market, which had been depressed for years.


Comments

Suncast embraces Kautex technology

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: November 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Western Case grows with investments in infrastructure and equipment

February 27, 2015 5:56 pm ET

RIVERSIDE, CALIF. — Blow molder Western Case Inc. has invested significantly in infrastructure and equipment while relocating and raising the...    More

Image

Plastic Omnium makes China investment push

February 26, 2015 4:35 pm ET

Three of the six new plants that automotive molder Plastic Omnium SA plans this year will be in China, part of a broader push it’s making in...    More

Image

Pretium Packaging buying North Carolina-based Intertech

February 23, 2015 4:08 pm ET

Pretium Packaging LLC, a custom blow molder that makes rigid plastic containers and closures, has acquired Intertech Corp., a privately owned...    More

Image

Coke making progress with plant-based PET

February 20, 2015 2:12 pm ET

ATLANTA — With 1.9 billion servings per day, Coca-Cola Co. relies on a number of ways to deliver beverages around the world: fountain...    More

Image

Aussie packaging giant's profit prompts share buyback

February 17, 2015 2:58 pm ET

Australian-based global packaging giant Amcor Ltd. will conduct a US$500 million share buyback after posting a healthy post-tax profit of US$321.3 mil...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events