CHICAGO — Maguire Products Inc. of Media, Pa., hopes to grow even bigger by getting small.
Company President Steve Maguire demonstrated two new products in Chicago during a press conference at NPE 1997: A miniature blender geared for machines with less than 50 pounds per hour of throughput, and a ``simple'' extrusion output-control software package.
The Micro-Blender is targeted at small machines that processors previously would not find economical to automate, he said.
``This really is the smallest blender we could produce,'' he said. ``Although it's the smallest machine we make, we think it could be our highest seller.''
Maguire Products plans to make about 40 of the new machines per month. Currently it sells 200 blenders worldwide per month.
The Micro-Blender ``may replace sales for our larger machines, but actually we expect to broaden the market,'' he said.
Features of the new blender include a 6-inch-by-6-inch footprint, air-powered mixer for safety and maintenance considerations, low weight for compatibility with smaller injection machines, removable hoppers and hopper-mounted valves.
``For the smaller molding machine, this blender is ideal,'' said Pat Smith, vice president of sales and marketing.
The machine costs less than $7,000, about 15 percent less than its previous price-leading machines, Smith said.
Maguire also is branching out into software with the introduction of its extrusion output control system for its blenders.
For about $4,000 worth of software and the price of an IBM-compatible computer, extruders can monitor and control throughput precisely, Maguire said.
``Once [customers] buy a blender, they already made the major investment for extrusion control,'' Maguire said.
Maguire's product does not include a lot of bells and whistles, Maguire said, and he sees that as a selling point to extruders that have balked at more expensive control systems.
``It's a simpler system than our competitors,'' Maguire said.
Without temperature or pressure sensors, the Maguire system simply measures throughput from the blender controllers and adjusts the extruders accordingly.
``Everything is controlled by the blender,'' Maguire said. ``Blenders handle all the automation; it's just a matter of adding feedback control.''
The system can handle as many as 256 extruders from a single computer, including multiple extruders per line for coextrusion applications, Maguire said.
Maguire Products has been making metering and blending equipment since its inception as a one-man operation in 1977.
NPE was held June 16-20 in Chicago.