MANCHESTER, MICH. - Johnson Controls Inc. is making an 800-ton structural foam molding machine, with an extra-large platen and four clamping cylinders, capable of molding four pallets at once. The new ma-chine is called the Dual 400. Johnson Con-trols markets its structural foam machines under the Uni-loy-Springfield brand name.
Johnson Controls' standard 400-ton press is a popular machine for making pallets. Ed Hunerberg, business manager of structural foam machinery, said those 400-ton machines can mold one pallet, or sometimes two pallets, at a time.
Hunerberg said the Dual 400 is the first JCI press specifically designed to mold four at a time. The Dual 400 has 2.7 times the output of two separate 400-ton machines, at a lower cost, he said.
Higher production is a key.
``With pallets it's very important to keep the price down to keep it competitive with wood,'' Hunerberg said in an interview March 6 at Johnson Controls' Plastics Machinery Division headquarters in Manchester.
With 800 tons of clamping force and a platen measuring 16 feet wide and 9 feet high, the Dual 400 is laid out like two 400-ton machines side-by-side. Each half of the platen has two clamping cylinders, which together apply 400 tons of clamping force.
A traditional machine has four tie bars. The Dual 400 has six tie bars, three running horizontally along the top of the platen and three along the bottom. Hunerberg said the middle set of tie bars eliminates the need for very thick platens with deep ribs - and that opens up more room for nozzle holes.
The Dual 400's big platen has about 400 nozzle holes, drilled through the steel platen leading to the mold area. Once molds are mounted, injection nozzles can be attached to the holes in any pattern.
Structural foam molding works by building up plastic in an extruder, which moves the melt to an accumulator. A short-shot is stuffed into the mold by a ram, and a foaming agent in the melt fills out the part.
The Dual 400 machine uses two 6-inch extruders. Each extruder can process 100 pounds of material per shot.
In other news, Hunerberg announced that Johnson Controls has designed a Uniloy-Springfield machine to meet European Community standards. Two ma-chines have been sold to Euro-pean firms.
``We put together a team of engineers and spent a year-and-a-half to understand the specs and figure out how to meet them,'' he said.
The European standards re-quire more thorough safety features than U.S. ones, including more guards and safety interlocks, he said.
``We could not take one of our existing machines and simply ship it to Europe,'' he said