CHICAGO (July 12, 6:20 p.m. EDT) — Engel North America said its new electric injection press is the first to combine all-electric technology and tie-barless design.
Also in Chicago, Engel showed its largest-ever standard tie-barless press and demonstrated a new in-mold decorating system, developed with GE Structured Products, that combines screen printing, thermoforming and injection molding.
On the electric-press front, Engel´s Austrian parent, Engel Vertriebsgesselschaft mbH first showed one of the early SEL presses at the K´98 show two years ago, but it was not a production machine. Kurt Fenske, vice president of sales and marketing at Engel North America, said the press at NPE was the same design as the K´98 machine. Engel soon will come out with a newer, shorter SEL press with different dimensions, Fenske said in a telephone interview after NPE. Officially, Engel is saying the SEL presses, which come in clamping forces of 60, 110 and 165 tons, will be commercially available in early 2001.
Fenske said the company has not sold any of the all-electrics in North America yet, but interest is high in an electric press that also has no tie bars. The two types of machine—tie-barless and all-electric— have competed for the same market of precision molding, he said.
"For customers it was frustrating, because to get one, you had to forego the other. We expect the electric tie-barless to be a very hot product," Fenske said.
Having no tie bars makes it easier to use parts-removal robots on an injection press, and to change molds. Features of the electric press, which ran medical pipettes on a 64-cavity mold at NPE, include a large injection unit for precision, high-pressure molding at fast cycles, according to the company.
Franz Strohmaier, vice president of engineering and advanced technology, called the all-electric, tie-barless model "the next logical step in the evolution of machine technology."
Engel also made a big leap in size at NPE, showing a 660-ton version of its standard tie-barless machine, which is more than twice the formerly largest Engel size of 300 tons. NPE booth visitors saw the machine molding a big T-shaped pipe fitting from ABS.
According to Engel, the mold had three large, protruding core-pull cylinders, making it impossible to get into a conventional machine without pulling out the tie bars — a costly, time-consuming process.
Strohmaier said more than 70 of the big machines have been sold since the 660-ton press was introduced in Europe on a limited basis.
Engel is the world-leader in tie-barless machines, claiming it has sold more than 13,000 of the machines around the world.
In Chicago, a 200-ton tie-barless Engel molded a cover for a mobile phone with colorful graphics, thanks to in-mold decorating technology. Special thermoplastic film with the graphics is thermoformed into the proper shape. A robot places the film directly into the mold, then the press injects plastic behind the film to get a permanent bond. By integrating three machines together, the cycle time, including thermoforming, die-cutting and molding, takes less than 30 seconds, Engel said.
Engel also is showing the largest-ever press to run the low-pressure MuCell process, a two-platen Duo machine with 1,000 tons of clamping force and wide platens.
Engel also ran the MuCell foam-bubbles process on a two-platen, 1,000-ton Duo press, molding a large housing for an overhead light.