DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - A top official of Battenfeld GmbH said it's decision time about makinginjection molding machines in the United States. Battenfeld attempted to buy Van Dorn Plastics Machinery Co. and establish a U.S. manufacturing base for injection presses two years ago, but lost out to a fellow German machine maker, Mannesmann Demag AG. At an Oct. 6, K'95 press conference, Helmut Eschwey, member of the managing board of SMS Aktiengesellschaft, which owns Battenfeld, said his company continues to explore acquisitions, joint ventures or building a whole new plant. But Battenfeld officials will be cautious because America is a mature market crowded with suppliers. Still, he said, ``It's high time to decide whether to go to the U.S. [with full manufacturing] or not to go to the U.S.''
Eschwey said there is no strict timetable for making a final decision, but he added: ``I would like to make that decision within the next six to 12 months.''
Battenfeld's North American injection press business is based in West Warwick, R.I., at Battenfeld of America Inc. The office sells presses shipped from Germany.
Battenfeld is well-represented by North American manufacturing with other types of machines: at Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. located in Gloucester, Mass., which makes blown film equipment and at Battenfeld Blowmolding Machines Inc. of Boonton, N.J.
On July 5, Battenfeld GmbH bought American Maplan Corp., which makes extruders for pipe, profiles and siding in McPherson, Kan.
In technology news, Battenfeld used K'95 to introduce its HM series of injection presses, in clamping forces of 550-1,430 tons. HM, which stands for hydraulic modular, has evolved from its BA-T line of machines. HM presses have improved mold clamping and injection units. The machines have a two-stage hydraulic clamping unit, which applies clamping force centrally to the mold using a pressure column. On machines with 1,330 tons of force or more, two columns are used.
Battenfeld's improved BK-T machine uses only the energy actually required for the cycle, cutting costs.
Also new is an extension ofthe CDC series, with two new sizes in the midrange clamping force segment.
Battenfeld also showed a larger, 220-ton version of its all-electric press.
Injection molding orders increased 25 percent in the fiscal year ended June 30, Eschwey said.
In blow molding, Battenfeld showed its first-ever all-electric blow molder, a Tahara machine from Tokyo. Battenfeld Fischer Blasformtechnik GmbH also held an open house at its plant in Troisdorf, Germany, where the firm demonstrated 3-D suction blow molding, making air ducts with sharp angles.
The company also demonstrated extrusion blow molding of shampoo bottles with an eight-cavity mold on a long-strike machine, made by W. Miller GmbH, which Battenfeld fully acquired on Jan. 1. The German plant also has begun manufacturing big accumulator head machines, which had been made only in the United States, at the Boonton plant.
After a loss of orders in 1993/1994, blow molding orders increased by 28 percent in the most recent fiscal year.
In film and sheet, Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. showed its new gravimetric blending equipment, which it now manufactures in-house in Gloucester.
President Harold Wrede said that gravimetric units, which measure material by weight, are expected to overtake volumetric blenders, which measure by volume. Gravimetric units should grow to 75-85 percent of the market in film and sheet extrusion within five years, according to Wrede.
Battenfeld Gloucester also showed an Autoprofile Air Ring, which directs temperature-controlled air onto specific areas of the film leaving the die.