CHICAGO — The Reed Division of Package Machinery Co. shook a decade's worth of dust off its nameplate Oct. 6 when it unveiled its first new machine in more than a decade.
Reed's venerable name was revived and stamped onto the side of a brand-new vertical injection molding machine, first shown at Plastics USA, Oct. 6-8 in Chicago.
The burgeoning vertical machine market drew the West Springfield, Mass., company out of semiretirement, said sales manager Mikal Johansen.
``The insert segment is the fastest-growing segment in the injection molding industry,'' he said.
Reed says it has sold more than 11,000 machines, since becoming the first U.S. injection press maker in 1936. It last introduced a new model in 1988, and stopped selling new machines in 1990, said customer-service supervisor Meg Cook. Its machines were kept on the radar screen during the years by ongoing customer-service efforts that included repairs and rebuilding, she said.
The growing market for insert molding and overmolding machines is evidenced by the fact that the only new Reed machine in existence — the 100-ton shuttle model displayed at the show — already has been sold to Lee Plastics Inc. in Leominster, Mass.
``Our old customers are welcoming us back,'' Johansen said.
Lee President Leo Montagna said his firm's purchase of a Reed continues a long tradition.
``We bought Reeds for our first machine purchase back in the early 1980s,'' he said by phone Oct. 6. ``I still buy my parts from them. We were looking to increase our capacity in insert molding.''
Lee employs about 40 making high-precision parts from highly engineered plastics. ``We run the materials a lot of people stay away from,'' Montagna said.
The new Reed will join Lee's 18-press lineup, including 30- and 75-ton vertical Reed models. ``We still have good reliability and good productivity with our [older] Reeds,'' he said. ``We look for the same thing with this new press.''
Workers at Reed's West Springfield plant assembled that machine, and will make the next five models scheduled to be built.
Later machines will be built offshore, Johansen said. Reed is negotiating with undisclosed Taiwanese and South Korean firms for that contract, he said.
The new Duplimatic has half the hydraulic valves of previous models and 60 percent less piping. The injection unit for the prototype came from South Korea, hydraulics from Bosch and the control unit from Allen-Bradley, with customized Reed software.
The control panel has a one-button cycle switch. Operators need only one hand to start a cycle. Most machines have two palm switches, for safety reasons.
Reed's machine comes with a ``light curtain'' guard. If anything breaks the invisible wall of light protecting the shuttle and clamp, the machine instantly shuts down.
The guard protects operators and other workers nearby from accidents, and lets them perform secondary and setup operations while the press is cycling.
That safety factor exceeds requirements of Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials, he said. ``They're going to love it,'' Johansen said.