LOS ANGELES — Injection molding machine makers Netstal, Ferromatik Milacron, eMould and Krauss-Maffei demonstrated processes and discussed emerging technologies at Replitech North America, held Feb. 20-22 in Los Angeles.
Netstal-Maschinen AG is testing a fully electric injection molding machine for optical-media applications and plans field trials by June, said Werner Christinger, president of the Netstal Machinery Inc. unit in Devens, Mass. Rising electricity costs and energy shortages are among the drivers.
Netstal intends to introduce the electric press at the K show beginning Oct. 25 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
"We will offer both an electric machine and a traditional machine" to the optical-media market, he said.
At Replitech, Netstal demonstrated a 66-ton Discjet that easily can achieve 3.8-second cycle times in a production setting, he said.
In construction completed in September, Netstal added capacity in Nafels, Switzerland, to meet peak Discjet demand.
"We have to make sure we are ready with our products and with the manufacturing capacity, because lead times will be short all the time," Christinger said.
"We are in the next stage of expansion for our large general injection molding machines" up to 660 tons, he said. Construction is scheduled for completion by October.
Milacron Inc.'s European operation has sold about 30 multicomponent systems and has another 25 in the pipeline right now, said Hermann Plank, North American managing director in Batavia, Ohio, for Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH of Malterdingen, Germany.
The overmolding technology involves a horizontal turntable with four identical core sides mounted between the turning device.
"The turntable inside the molding machine functions almost like a stack mold," Plank said.
In October, a Nypro Inc. plant in Louisville, Ky., began molding the two-component roller ball for Procter & Gamble Co.'s new TideKick pre-treatment and measuring device.
Early European system users included Volvo AB for lightweight rear car lights and lids. Siemens AG's vendors "increased output basically by 170 percent" in molding two-component mobile phone covers, Plank said. BMW AG purchased a machine for a future application.
Ferromatik Milacron sells the technology as a system, including the mold. Plank said a system's efficiency could reduce the number of units needed for a production requirement.
All-electric injection press maker eMould GmbH of Wurselen, Germany, has new life as an independent business entity, said Karl-Heinz Schoppe, president of sales and operations.
Parent company Jenoptik AG of Jena, Germany, created eMould as a separate entity making injection molding machines in November. The business, which employs 40, had been part of Jenoptik subsidiary Data Disc Robots GmbH, which continues as a supplier of downstream technology. Both eMould and Data Disc have key roles in DataPlay Inc.'s new optical-media format.
Now, eMould can supply machines to other major integrators without competing with them.
"Our business plan is for only 100 molding machines this year," which would double 2000 production, Schoppe said.
Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH demonstrated capability to change a triathlon-brand press from production of compact discs to digital versatile discs or vice versa within 10 minutes, said Peter Hillenbrand, assistant to the managing director.
Krauss-Maffei of Munich, Germany, developed the quick-change molding system with Hong Kong replicator Lex International Ltd. The injection compression process applies pressure on the disc's surface in the cavity but never completely closes the mold. An operator resets machine parameters to control the height of a cavity closure for a 1.2-millimeter-thick CD or a 0.6mm half of a DVD.