CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Epcon Gas Systems Inc., which supplies gas-assisted injection molding technology, exhibited at its first trade show at Plastics Fair Charlotte. President Jon Erikson said he founded the firm in June 1995, about one year after he left gas-assisted molding supplier Gain Technologies Inc. of Sterling Heights, Mich. He was vice president and general manager of Gain.
Erikson said he started Epcon in the basement of his Rochester Hills, Mich., home then set up offices in Troy, Mich. The firm now employs three other people.
Erikson, interviewed Nov. 14 during the show, said that when he left Gain, he started thinking about what problems were holding back the use of gas-assisted injection molding. The technology injects gas into melted plastic inside a mold, pushing the melt out against the walls of the mold to create hollow parts.
``I have seen a lot of frustration in processing gas-assisted parts,'' he said.
Most problems involve hardware or processing issues. In hardware, Erikson said most gas-assisted systems are too complex. Epcon developed a basic gas pin with a series of tiny holes. Erikson called the pin ``a real simple thing that works like a charm.'' Nitrogen gas is injected into the mold through the pins.
Because holes in the pin are arranged in a tight pattern, they act like one large hole to move the gas through while keeping the melted plastic out. The pins are easy to remove by unscrewing. A patent is pending.
On the processing end, Erikson said Epcon has built into its controls the use of a sensor to measure the flow front. The sensor can be a pressure transducer or a thermocouple. The company also has applied for a patent for using this method of flow-front measurement, he said.
The price of Epcon equipment is based on the number of pressure outlets, from a minimum price of about $60,000 for a single pressure outlet to about $90,000 for eight pressure outlets. The price includes a license, Erikson said.
Erikson said Epcon will exhibit at NPE 1997 in Chicago.