STOW, OHIO — Ferry Industries Inc., a Stow rotational molding machine maker, is expanding into auxiliary equipment by building its own routers and selling Italian-made mixers.
Separately, Ferry said its new mold-monitoring system, called Infrared Thermometry Technology, will usher in an age of continuous closed-loop molding. IRT automatically adjusts how the rotomolding machine runs — similar to closed-loop injection molding presses.
Ferry President W. Harry Covington Jr. said Ferry will market its Quintax brand of computer numerically controlled routers to rotomolders, and to thermoforming and blow molding companies. The machines automatically drill holes and trim flash off parts.
In recent years, thermoformers have replaced many hand-finishing operations with CNC routers. Covington said rotomolders are poised to follow.
``About 20 percent of rotomolders today use CNC routers, but I expect that amount to grow,'' he said.
Spindles on the Quintax three-and five-axis routers turn 3,000-24,000 revolutions per minute. Optional tool changers can hold eight or 16 tools. Single-table routers come in two sizes, 5 feet square or 6 feet square. Ferry makes double-table models measuring 10 feet by 5 feet, or 12 feet by 6 feet.
Ferry also has started to sell high-intensity mixers made by Plas-Mec srl of Lonate Pozzolo, Italy. Covington said Ferry plans to begin making Plas-Mec equipment in Stow within the next year.
The product line includes paddle and ribbon mixers. Rotomolders blend resins, color pigments and additives with the equipment.
Ferry will begin selling the IRT continuous monitoring system in 1999.
``IRT Technology represents a quantum leap toward total adaptive control, in which the machine will automatically make process corrections that are required to maintain consistency,'' said Terry Gillian, vice president of sales.
IRT uses remote infrared sensors to check external mold temperatures continuously, and to adjust heating and cooling times. In rotomolding, workers put resin in the mold and bolt it closed. The machine then spins the mold through an oven and cools parts in a cooling chamber. Changes in air temperature of a rotomolding facility will alter the temperature of the mold — a big variable that can hurt part quality. An experienced machine operator can compensate, but such a seat-of-the pants method is imprecise and generates scrap parts.
To monitor mold temperatures, Ferry began by offering Rotolog, a device that bolts on to the mold. Because Rotolog gets too hot running through the machine's ovens, it has to be removed after a few cycles, Covington said.
IRT can run continuously. Because it will be tied in to a Ferry machine's Rotocure controller, Gillian said, IRT can change how long the mold stays in the oven or in the cooling chamber.
Remcon Plastics Inc., a rotomolder in Reading, Pa., is running the system under a beta test agreement.
Ferry also announced the Rotospeed RS-550, which it claims has the largest swing — 18 feet by 17 feet — of any commercially available rotomolding machine. The machine's independent arms can carry loads as heavy as 6,500 pounds, including the weight of the molds and plastic product.
``The RS-550 is capable of running multiple molds for kayaks, or tanks larger than a car,'' Gillian said.
Optional equipment includes multiple-passage internal gas for heating and cooling the mold and Ferry's semiautomated parts-removal system.
Covington said by offering all equipment — machines, mixers, routers and controllers — Ferry has positioned itself to supply rotomolding factories of the future.
``We believe with some of the software we have developed that, long term, you'll see completely integrated plants where all the machinery is tied together,'' he said.