DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 19, 10 a.m. EST) — Uniloy Milacron sold a large structural foam molding machine to Belgian processor Innova Packaging Systems NV, Europe's largest structural foam molder, the machinery maker said at K 2001.
With the purchase of the 1,000-ton, low-pressure machine, IPS now runs four structural foam molding machines from Uniloy Milacron. The others have clamping forces of 1,000 tons, one 750-ton press and a 500-ton machine, according to Ed Hunerberg, executive director of Uniloy Milacron's structural foam business and technology.
Structural foam molding originated in North America, but the process still is relatively rare in Europe, Hunerberg said at an interview at K 2001, held Oct. 24-Nov. 1 in Dusseldorf. Structural foam works by dissolving nitrogen gas into the thermoplastic resin in the extruder barrel, allowing the injection of a short shot of material. Inside the mold, the expanding foam cells provide pressure for final fill, pack and hold.
IPS, based in Leper, Belgium, is best known for molding big pallets and agricultural storage bins. But Bernard Forment, IPS director, said the first project for the new machine involves lots of small parts.
“To start, we're using the Uniloy press for a 40-cavity program,” he said.
Each cycle will produce 40 parts used as accessories with IPS' industrial pallets.
Because structural foam uses low pressure, big parts can be made on presses with relatively low clamping force, compared with standard high-pressure injection molding. For example, Hunerberg said IPS officials were considering the purchase of an 8,000-ton, standard injection press before they picked the Uniloy machine.
In the mid-1990s, IPS bought its first Uniloy structural foam machine, to make Europe's largest one-piece plastic injection molded part — an agricultural shipping container that weighs 154 pounds.
The 1,000-ton press, announced at K 2001, features a grid-style manifold that allows up to 48 independently controlled injection nozzles. Hunerberg said this new feature means each nozzle can be programmed in as many as eight different shot sizes and three different injection speeds.
Also, injection can be sequenced from nozzle to nozzle to get the most uniform filling of cavities, especially in complex molds.
IPS, owned by the Fivanco family holding company, has grown by about 20 percent a year during the past five years, Forment said. The company employs 85 people in Leper.
IPS and Uniloy Milacron did not disclose how much IPS paid for the machine.
Uniloy Milacron, based in Manchester, Mich., is a unit of Cincinnati-based Milacron Inc.