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German auxiliary equipment maker Ettlinger opens U.S. facility

By: Bill Bregar

June 19, 2013

FLORENCE, KY. — Ettlinger Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH, a German maker of rotating melt filters, has established a subsidiary in the U.S., in Wheaton, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

Ettlinger North America was started in name in 2011, but had no facility. North American sales manager Mike Diletti has been named managing director, and effective May 1, Ettlinger North America officially became an independent subsidiary of the German company.

The Chicago-area facility handles sales and spare parts. The company will be adding North American service and application engineering soon.

Diletti and Ettlinger General Manager Volker Neuber discussed the North American strategy during a June 13 interview at a KraussMaffei Corp. open house in Florence.

During the open house, a KM extruder was running contaminated scrap through an ERF (Ettlinger rotation filter).

The ERF is different from traditional melt filters that push the melt through screens and need to flushed frequently. On the ERF, material comes out of the extruder and moves through a rotating, drum-shaped filter, which is continually scraped clean by a knife edge. The screen cleaned constantly. Unmelted waste, such as aluminum foil, paper and even rubber, is immediately removed by an auger screw.

Diletti said Ettlinger North America has sold 11 ERFs in its first two years of operation, to a variety of customers including OEMs, recyclers that do compounding and processors that want to reuse heavily contaminated scrap. He said processor customers are using the melt filter to clean material they had been throwing away, such as scrap with layers of plastic, paper and cardboard.

“It’s a double bonus,” Diletti said, since customers end up with good, clear material and reduced landfill fees. “The unique design allows for consistent processing of a variety of resins as long as it isn’t big pieces of metal, or stones,” Diletti said in a presentation at the KM open house.

“Now they can separate it and reuse it,” Neuber said.

Ettlinger, based in Königsbrunn, Germany, is known for the ERF, but for 30 years, the company has been making specialty injection molding machines for molding very large parts such as pallets and big pipe fittings.

Neuber said that recently, Ettlinger has started to tie an ERF into the injection press and now plans to market the machine in North America. A company could convert its highly contaminated scrap directly into a finished product, without having to pelletize it first, he said — effectively doing direct recycling.

Ettlinger’s custom-made injection molding machines use a two-stage injection unit that combines extrusion for plastification that feeds the shooting pot, accumulating the melt. A separate plunger then injects the melt into the mold, as the shooting pot gets refilled. The extruder does not operate continuously, but runs on molding cycles, just like the injection unit. The advantage, according to Ettlinger, is that the technology allows large shot volumes of quality melt, at lower clamping forces.

Clamping forces on the Ettlinger injection presses range from 200 to 3,000 metric tons.

Thorsten Ettlinger, the company’s chief technology officer, said it was “a logical step” to pair the extruder and melt filter into an integrated system. “One could even go a step further and use a twin-screw instead of a single-screw extruder, and compound the material to be processed,” he said.

Ettlinger has been established in Europe and Asia, and now is pushing into North America.

Before he joined Ettlinger, Diletti was vice president of sales and service at Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., a maker of injection presses, robots and hot runners. Neuber, who bought a majority stake in Ettlinger in 2010, is also a former Husky executive.