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Persico opens US location, introduces 'smart' rotomolder

By: Bill Bregar

October 1, 2013

CLEVELAND— Persico SpA, the Italian company that makes fully automated rotational molding machines — causing waves in the labor-intensive rotomolding sector — has introduced a new machine aimed at custom molders, and announced the creation of a U.S. operation.

Both announcements came on Sept. 30.

The Nembro, Italy-based company bought a company in Rochester Hills, Mich., called Autoplas Systems Ltd. and is moving into the building in the Detroit suburb, creating Persico USA.

Persico officials also unveiled the new Smart machine at the Association of Rotational Molders’ annual meeting in Cleveland. They billed Smart as a much more flexible, but still automatic, rotomolder.

The first Persico rotomolding machine, called Leonardo, uses electricity for heating molds directly, avoiding the need to cycle the molds through a large oven and cooling station, as in a traditional carousel-type machine. (The first generation of Leonardos used oil).

The machines are highly automated, opening and closing the mold, loading the resin, and depositing finished parts on a conveyor.

Leonardo caught the industry’s attention when Persico introduced it 10 years ago. But in the United States, only a handful of the expensive machines, with highly engineered molds, have been sold, and those to very long-running parts. You can turn the machine on and it cranks out parts all day.

At the Cleveland conference, Alberto Carrara said the Smart is designed to give a molder an entry-level knowledge of the benefits of direct heating and cooling. The Smart costs about half as much as Leonardo, said Cararra, sales manager of Persico’s Rotomoulding division.

The compact, self-contained Smart rotomolder uses electricity to heat the mold directly, and fans to cool it down.

But an “intelligent” system for the spider — the metal structure that holds the molds — is a important feature, especially for customer molders with shorter production runs, Cararra said. The spider fits into a port on the machine plate that supplies electrical power and a mechanical hookup, and actually identifies the specific spider.

“When the spider goes into the machine, the machine recognizes the spider and immediately goes into the cycle,” he told ARM conference attendees.

Cararra said a custom molder can two spiders, each one holding two molds. While one spider is in the machine, the other is moved to a service area, away from the production area. A mold-change takes only two or three minutes, he said. Also, you could do the first part of cooling in the machine, then easily remove the spider and move the molds to a dedicated area for additional cooling.

Smart also measures and controls mold temperatures. During heating, it can create a partial vacuum, which Carrara said cuts cycle time by rapidly removing air bubbles in the part wall, and giving more efficient cooling. Removing the tiny bubbles creates attractive parts, according to Persico. “It looks like an extruded part. It’s amazing,” Carrara said.

The result is lower cycle times and improved impact strength, he said.

Meanwhile, the new Persico USA will help the company serve U.S. rotomolders better. Autoplas makes automated assembly equipment for automotive suppliers, and Sergio Zilioli, key account manager, said Persico’s long-term reason to buy the business was to expand its own automotive-related businesses, including molds and compression molding machines for compression molding headliners and other interior, sound insulating parts.

But Zilioli said the Leonardo and Smart rotomolding machinery business also will benefit. The first step is to handle service in Michigan. Persico also will make the special rotational molds there, for use in its machines.

Rotomolding machinery maker Ferry Industries Inc. of Stow, Ohio, sells the Persico machines in North America, Ferry has a demonstration machine at its headquarters plant.

Persico also has expanded in China, purchasing the mold making division of a company in Ningbo.

Persico will exhibit at K2013 (Hall 15, Stand A38).