CHICAGO — Top officials of Battenfeld GmbH pooh-poohed two of injection molding's hottest technologies during an NPE 1997 press conference in Chicago.
Tie-barless injection molding machines? Who needs 'em! Two-platen presses? Forget about it!
``Man does not really need a tie-barless machine,'' said Helmut Eschwey, a member of the managing board of SMS AG, which owns Battenfeld.
At NPE, the biggest news for Battenfeld, based in Meinerzhagen, Germany, was that the company has started U.S. assembly of its HM injection presses. But questioned by reporters at Battenfeld's June 17 press conference, company officials discussed a number of subjects, including their positions on tie-barless machines, two-platen machines and all-electric presses.
Last year, Battenfeld showed a prototype tie-barless press at an open house in Austria, to gauge customer reaction. Lutz Weisbecker, managing director in charge of technology, said the company is able to manufacture such a machine.
``But actually now, we believe the tie-barless machine has some advantages and some disadvantages,'' Weisbecker said.
Firms that make tie-barless machines say they are attractive because of the more open access to the mold. Still, Eschwey said that only about 5 percent of the injection molding machines made each year are tie-barless.
News about two-platen machines dominated NPE 1997 — just like the K show two years earlier in Germany. But Battenfeld is lukewarm about using two instead of three platens.
``Battenfeld actually has decided to go with a three-platen machine,'' Weisbecker said.
``There's no need from our viewpoint to change over immediately to a two-platen machine.''
However, Weisbecker said officials could decide to build a two-platen press in the future.
Originally, one big reason many companies adopted the two-platen design was to reduce the cost of the machine, but the machines ended up being about the same price as three-platen presses, according to Eschwey.
Battenfeld does build all-electric machines in clamping forces of 50-200 tons. Even though Battenfeld did not show its electric presses at NPE, Eschwey and Weisbecker were more charitable toward the technology.
``The all-electric machine will definitely have a big future,'' Weisbecker said.
But the price has to come down for electrics to move beyond niche markets and into general-purpose molding, they said.
``It makes sense to have electric machines in the smaller machines, but the technology is very expensive,'' Weisbecker said. ``Still we expect that in the next 10 years, the price will definitely go down.''
Eschwey will have a high profile at the next K show in Dusseldorf. He is chairman of the K'98 exhibitors advisory board.