DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Milacron Inc. may tackle the market for two-stage PET bottle machines, thanks to its recent acquisition of Johnson Controls Inc.'s Uniloy Plastics Machinery Division.
Uniloy, which has about 28 percent of the North American blow molding machine market, is a world leader in extrusion blow molding equipment. It is strong in machines that produce a range of consumer packaging, from polyethylene detergent bottles and milk containers to PET bottles.
Milacron also is a niche player in PET packaging blow molding and a world leader in injection molding machines. In an interview during K'98 in Dusseldorf, John R. Francis, JCI Plastics Machinery's marketing director, confirmed a clear interest on Uniloy's part to get involved in integrated two-step PET blow molding systems.
``We have one-step PET [machines] right now. ... That avenue looks like a viable approach. We have been asked many times as Uniloy: `Why don't you build a two-step blow molder ?'
``Quite honestly, we didn't have anything else to go with it. So, now we do,'' Francis said.
Francis said Uniloy has long believed in offering its customers integrated handling and filling systems with its blow molding machines.
Integrated systems are ``pretty much where the industry is going'' and for PET, the union between the companies is a ``natural marriage'' between Milacron, which can make presses for molding PET preforms, and Uniloy, which can make reheat stretch machines.
Milacron bought Uniloy on Oct. 1. Milacron has pledged to keep Uniloy Milacron, as the unit is now known, a free-standing, independent business, headquartered in Manchester, Mich.
Francis said some product overlap means product redefinition now is a likely course. He acknowledged a degree of crossover between Uniloy's and its new parent Milacron's product lines, particularly in accumulator-head machines. He suggested that soon after the takeover is an ideal time to define the new group's range.
``[Even] some Uniloy products overlap [each other]. ... It is probably the best opportunity we'll have to go through this realignment and define each product and try to minimize the confusion of our customers.
``I think it will happen very quickly. ... [We should] get it done, get it over with when everyone knows who the new Uniloy Milacron is and what products we offer in the marketplace,'' Francis said.
Uniloy featured six new blow molding systems at K'98, while visitors to its show annex at nearby Bochum, Germany, were shown two more innovative machines.
At Bochum, the equipment supplier showed off its BW-40 continuous extrusion blow molding machine producing a 61/2-gallon container and UMA-75 accumulator-head machine, turning out 52-gallon drums from high-molecular-weight high density PE.
Meanwhile, at its K-show booth the range included the Recip 2000 machine line producing 2-liter containers with handles; the IBS-129-3S injection blow molding system producing containers that hold 1.8 fluid ounces, in 14-cavity molds; and the Semeraro exact 6.0 shuttle machine, producing containers of 15 fluid ounces, in 5-cavity molds.