Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these items Jan. 8-10 during the Anaheim, Calif., trade expositions of Medical Design & Manufacturing West 2001, Pacific Design & Manufacturing 2001 and Plastec West 2001.
Preco finishing tests on decorating system
Preco Industries Inc. of Lenexa, Kan., is completing the beta version of a high-pressure, solid-phase forming system for insert-mold decoration. The initial application involves a telecommunications device. Other possible uses include graphic overlays for keyboards and calculators.
Preco aims to compete with Curt Niebling's market-dominant HDVF Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH of Penzberg, Germany. Both firms have Bayer AG licenses on the patented process, which involves preheating material to make it pliable but not melted.
Michael Ernst, Preco vice president, anticipates installation of the first roll-fed unit in March. The machine has a 12-by-16.7-inch forming area, and is priced in the high $200,000 range.
"We will be coming out with a second model in the next three or four months," he said. That unit will have an 18-by-24-inch forming area, making it suitable for automotive applications.
Two processes are possible: A coil-fed dispenser runs material in-line into a trimming press, and a sheet-fed system moves preprinted material to the press using robots.
"We will be able to register the printed image to the mold without the use of pilot pins and with a much greater utilization of the material than other processes that are available in the market today," he said.
Preco has 115 employees.
Textron looking for IntelliMold licensees
Textron Automotive Co. Inc. utilized its IntelliMold process internally in 18 injection molding applications during 2000 and has targeted 100 additional uses this year.
"The system enhances control of a product coming out of the press," said Ed Rutkowske, vice president of operations for the firm's IntelliMold Systems unit in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Textron is working to license the closed-loop injection molding process to noncompeting companies. A three-year IntelliMold license for one 350-ton press, for example, may cost about $20,000 for installation and $20,000 annually.
M&C Technologies of Ann Arbor began developing the process in 1994 and obtained 40 licensees. Most still use IntelliMold. Textron Automotive, which acquired M&C in March, has technology arrangements with eight manufacturers of injection molding machines offering presses with closed-loop controls.
Textron Automotive began marketing IntelliMold's intellectual property commercially in October with partners Research Triangle Institute of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Deloitte & Touche LLP's intellectual asset management practice in Chicago. According to Textron, a licensee can expect a three- to six-month return on investment, with larger presses capturing a faster payback.
Textron Automotive, which had 1999 sales of $1.7 billion in injection molded products, is a business segment of Providence, R.I.-based Textron Inc.
Henry Plastic Molding upgrades operations
Henry Plastic Molding Inc. of Fremont, Calif., has enhanced its decorating and mechanical-assembly capabilities in recent months.
"That portion of the business is growing very fast," said sales manager Don Hoverter. Henry mainly supplies the medical and electronics industries.
Henry upgraded the mechanical-assembly operation and added more decorating equipment to fulfill contract and internal needs, he said. The company touts itself as one of the largest pad printers in the San Francisco Bay area.
During the first quarter of this year, Henry expects to begin clean-room molding and assembly and complete work toward ISO 9002 registration, Hoverter said. To start, the firm will use modular units to establish the clean-room conditions.
Established in 1970, Henry Plastic Molding employs about 100 and operates 23 injection molding machines.
The company offers in-house and offshore tooling for production ranging from prototypes to high-volume jobs. The firm reported 1999 sales of $9.25 million.
Husky adding sizes to its S-series line
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. of Bolton, Ontario, continues to roll out new sizes of its electric-hybrid S-series line of machines.
"The complete line will be finished by September," said Michael Urquhart, vice president of sales and service. The Hylectric-brand line combines hydro-mechanical and electric technologies and will have 10 sizes with clamping forces ranging from 55-1,100 tons.
The equipment can run molds typically designed for larger, more expensive machines. He cited an example of running a mold in a competitor's 200-ton press and running the same mold in a Husky 160-ton or 90-ton S-series unit.
The line has wider tie spacing than the previous G-line.
"In the vast majority of molds running today, they are tie-bar-limited more than tonnage-limited," Urquhart said. In addition, he claimed the line offers good mold protection.
"Complex molds are very expensive, and often mold maintenance can be a bigger cost than machine maintenance," Urquhart said.