Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar reported the following items from the Western Plastics Expo, held Jan. 12-14 in Long Beach, Calif.
RJG controller reduces mold cavity pressure
A 40-ton machine press at Nissei America Inc.'s booth demonstrated cavity pressure control during the show.
RJG Technologies Inc. of Traverse City, Mich., manufactures a device that monitors cavity pressure. The machine's controller uses the data to switch from mold fill to pack and hold.
The Nissei press ran with traditional position control the first day of WPE. The second two days of the show, RJG hooked up the cavity pressure device.
Results showed the cavity pressure reduced variables dramatically, according to Kenneth Fassett, national account manager for RJG.
Erema offers cheaper recycling machine
Attention recyclers: Down in the dumps, thanks to plunging prices for virgin resin? Erema North America Inc. of Topsfield, Mass., has a machine for you.
Terry Hanrahan, vice president of sales and marketing, said the new Continuous Agglomerator costs about half the price of a full-sized Erema recycling machine.
``I think it's the right machine for the right time. This is an inexpensive way to pelletize material that's clean,'' Hanrahan said. At WPE, Erema was running grocery sack film through the machine.
The agglomerator is less expensive because it does not have an full-sized extruder. Instead, the machine runs scrap through a cutter/compactor with high-speed spinning knives, then pumps it through a short extruder to a granulator. It comes out in small chunks, suitable for injection molding or extrusion.
``This is very close to a pellet,'' Hanrahan said, digging through the end product. ``A lot of people feel they can run this through their extruders, where they can't run densified material.''
The agglomerator softens, but does not melt, the material. On a traditional Erema machine, the plastic would go through a final step of extrusion and pelletizing.
Laser maker Foba may open L.A. office
Laser engraving equipment maker Foba North America, which already has offices in Massachusetts and Missouri, plans to open a facility in the Los Angeles area within the next six months, a company official said at WPE.
Meanwhile, Foba continues to push its technology into mold engraving and part decorating.
Scott Ludwig, regional manager of Foba's Gloucester, Mass., location, said the company was evaluating sites and expected to pick one soon. Foba North America also has an operation in Lee's Summit, Mo.
``We want to have our technicians and our service people closer to the customer,'' Ludwig said.
Foba makes high-powered industrial lasers. To engrave a mold, the laser vaporizes the steel. ``It becomes small particles. It turns literally to dust,'' Ludwig said. An exhaust system removes the metal.
Laser engraving is ``much faster and much more repeatable'' than traditional methods such as electric discharge machining, chemical etching and milling, according to Foba. EDM, the main competition for lasers, requires a separate step to manufacture the electrode. ``We've eliminated that whole step,'' Ludwig said.
Lasers also can cut deeper than chemical etching. ``We're coming straight in, so we're not limited on depth as the acid is,'' he said.
Foba laser machines also are gaining attention as a way to decorate molded plastic parts. Ludwig said Foba wants to challenge pad printing machines. One big advantage: Lasers can separately mark or bar-code each part, giving complete traceability.
Intra aligns molds with its laser system
Another company, Intra Corp. Inc., also uses lasers, this time to align molds.
Intra's system is accurate to within 21/2 microns, according to Philip Chapuseaux, sales and marketing coordinator for the company in Westland, Mich.
Laser mold alignment can be done to benchmark a new injection molding machine before using it, and for routine checking. The system shows how square the platen is, any degree of horizontal and vertical slope of the machine, and other measurements, in real time.
Chapuseaux said two injection press manufacturers are using Intra systems when they build machines — Engel North America and Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd.
Italian firm exhibits mold holding unit
An Italian company, Millutensil srl of Milan, Italy, demonstrated its presses for holding molds during fitting and refurbishing.
The top plate tilts out at any angle to move the mold into the correct position for the mold maker. The lower plate operates at two speeds.
Millutensil is represented in North America by Millutensil N.A. Inc. of Toronto.
Foba North America produces high-powered industrial lasers that are used to engrave a mold by vaporizing the steel. The process can engrave or mark any image or text in a variety of sizes.