FITCHBURG, MASS. - Faster cycle times and new technologies will drive the market for injection molded compact discs this year. ``The CD market continues to be robust through '95 and into '96,'' said Barry Potter, president of Netstal-Machinery Inc. in Fitchburg, Mass.
More than half of all Netstal machines go into compact disc molding. Netstal begins the year with a backlog through July forCD presses. Still, Potter wants to avoid getting too top-heavy on CDs.
``We're looking for the demand for CD machines to flatten out a bit in the third and fourth quarter of '96,'' Potter said. ``We think the growth in audio seems to be slowing down a bit.
``The CD-ROM market is still very robust, but a lot of new capacity has been added this year and into the first two quarters of next year.''
Faster cycle times are still a driving force in CD molding technology. Sumitomo Plastics-Machinery in Norcross, Ga., hosted about 50 visitors during a two-week demonstration of its SD30 machine Nov. 27-Dec. 8, boasting cycles of 31/2 seconds. Sumitomo introduced the machine at Plastics USA in September. Vice President Jerry Boggs said Sumitomo in December signed an agreement with Rimage Corp. of Minneapolis, which markets replicating and finishing equipment.
New disc technology, specifically so-called digital versatile disc, or DVD, will boost sales again in 1997 and beyond, said Netstal's Potter. Able to hold more information than current CDs, the DVDs will be able to hold video, music and computer data.
Sumitomo sold about 250 units in 1995, Boggs said. Two years ago, sales were about 100 units. Boggs thinks 1996 will be much like 1995.
Looking beyond CDs, Netstal wants to expand in the PET preform market, with molds to be sourced from a U.S. toolmaker, rather than importing from Netstal's home country of Switzerland.
One system, a machine and molds, has been sold for testing, with delivery expected in the first quarter.
``We are currently qualifying a U.S. mold manufacturer,'' Potter said in mid-December.
``Our goal is to supply the molds from the United States so that we can offer better after-sales service on molds, so we're not dependent on parts from out of Europe.''