ANAHEIM, CALIF. — At Plastec West 2001, Arburg Inc. injection molded a nylon press part using the MuCell process, and Van Dorn Demag Corp. said it agreed to license the emerging technology.
Meanwhile, process owner Trexel Inc. predicted that its MuCell microcellular molding technology will achieve a strong commercial presence soon.
Arburg made an antivibration dampener on a 66-ton press in the only live MuCell demonstration at the trade show, held Jan. 8-10 in Anaheim.
"We manufacture most of the components for our molding machines as opposed to most machine makers who are assemblers," said Carey Brayer, national sales manager for Newington, Conn.-based Arburg.
Making the bracket with the MuCell process cuts cycle time 25 percent, uses 27 percent less material and decreases warpage 75 percent, he said. The dampener became Arburg's first MuCell-enhanced production part last year.
"We are actively looking at other parts," Brayer said.
Van Dorn Demag of Strongsville, Ohio, can incorporate MuCell on any of its molding machines. The firm is targeting noncosmetic applications such as under-the-hood automotive parts, said product manager Lawrence Doyle.
Seeking to differentiate its offering, Van Dorn Demag plans to link its Pathfinder control system to MuCell's way of delivering supercritical fluids during molding.
Doyle could not project MuCell's impact.
"I think it's kind of early to tell," he said. "We've got a lot of interest from our customers, but, at the same time, not a lot is known" about the process.
Doyle characterized MuCell as expensive initially, but he cited a case where the process paid off. On a nylon 6/6 intake manifold gasket, MuCell helped cut part warpage, reduced weight 26 percent while retaining 96 percent of part stiffness and lowered cycle time by 50 percent.
The process uses compressed nitrogen or carbon dioxide to create microscopic bubbles to lower part weight, reduce fill pressure, improve mold fill and boost cycle time.
Injection molders will use MuCell in producing at least 12 major commercial products in the next six months, said David Bernstein, Trexel's president and chief executive officer.
"The issue for us is to see major commercial production products going out the door," Bernstein said by telephone from Trexel's Woburn, Mass., headquarters.
Trexel has licensed 50-100 injection molding machines and expects to cover 200 presses by year's end. The company has authorized nine equipment makers to incorporate MuCell on their platforms. "We will announce two more momentarily and will add another six," Bernstein added.
Meanwhile, Trexel has licensed 25-50 extrusion lines for sheet and profile applications.
"We want to come out with a turnkey program for extrusion blow molded [high density polyethylene] bottles" for packaging shampoo and household, industrial and chemical products, Bernstein said.