CHICAGO — Fahr Bucher GmbH of Gottmadingen, Germany, is well-known in the United States for its thermoset injection molding machines. But now the firm is going head-to-head with an established North American machine maker for the thermoplastic food packaging market.
Bucher Inc., Fahr Bucher's U.S. subsidiary, based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., showed the new SGA-520LS thermoplastic injection molding machine specifically targeted at thin-wall containers at NPE 1997, held June 16-20 in Chicago.
While Bucher has been producing thermoplastic injection molding machines for Europe since the early 1960s, the company just started selling the machines in North America two years ago. The newest, a 572-ton press, is the largest Bucher has made for any market.
``It is specifically designed for the North American market,'' said Taras Konowal, president of Bucher Inc., noting that U.S. and Canadian packaging firms make much larger containers than their European counterparts.
Features of the SGA-520LS include a two-platen design with all the hydraulics located on the front end of the machine.
``We flipped the machine over and cleared out the back end, reducing the footprint,'' Konowal said.
In keeping with its targeted processors, Bucher designed the machine to run cleanly.
``The platen is not riding on tiebars,'' Konowal said, ``so it's a very clean machine.''
The tiebars attached to the moving platen cycle through a special faceplate in the fixed platen to clean them of oil. That way container parts are not contaminated when they are ejected from the mold, George Schiesser, Fahr Bucher's vice president of engineering, said.
Other features include a fast dry cycle, faster overall cycles and increased clamp clearances.
Bucher intends to compete with Husky Injection Molding Systems of Bolton, Ontario, Konowal said. The Canadian company has dominated the thin-wall packaging market in the United States.
``Customers have been screaming out for competition,'' Konowal said.
Fahr Bucher GmbH President Robert Naville said North America will be the pilot market for the new machine, with Europe and the Far East possible targets down the road.
Naville predicted the European packaging industry will become more standardized as the European Union progresses, thus giving processors a reason for buying larger machines.
To go along with the new machines, Bucher also is offering a new way for processors to acquire them: leasing through an alliance between Fahr-Bucher and Yamazen Financial Services.
The new SGA-520LS, for example, would lease for about $9,400 per month under the lease plan.