DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 5, 4:10 p.m. EST) — Netstal-Maschinen AG entered the all-electric fray during K 2001, by showing a commercialized e-Jet press for optical discs and a prototype of an all-electric version of the general-purpose SynErgy line.
Bernard Merki, managing director of marketing and sales, said Netstal could come out with a general purpose, all-elecrtric press by 2003.
Netstal also showed a 144-cavity preform mold, its biggest to date, at the Dusseldorf trade show.
Gleaming white and sporting rounded curves, the e-Jet resembles a piece of high-end office equipment as much as an injection molding machine. The 55-ton e-Jet on the show floor ran about as quietly, too.
The company in NÃ¤fels, Switzerland, hopes the electric machine will help increase its 50 percent global market share of optical disc machines.
Using a crank mechanism, servo motors run the clamp movement and injection stroke. The drive, designed specifically for short-stroke disc molding, is fast — running at up to 250 millimeters per second.
But company officials made it clear that e-Jet is only the beginning for Netstal and the all-electric press. Merki said Netstal will develop a line of all-electric, standard machines, based on SynErgy, the firm's current line of hydraulically powered, toggle-clamp machines. Plans call for creating presses ranging in clamping force from 44-192 tons, Merki said Oct. 26.
At K 2001, the first one, a prototype 132-ton press, was molding a shell for floppy discs.
The company gave out some technical details of the prototype all-electric. Servo motors move the clamp and screw. In the future, however, Netstal engineers want to use an asynchronous motor — a robust, long-lasting technology already in use on larger-tonnage SynErgy machines.
The prototype machine can run injection speeds of 250 millimeters per second, thanks to the servo motor with force transmission over two twin racks with angles teeth. By changing drive components — Netstal declined to give details pending patent approval — can jack up the speed to 450 mm.
In packaging machines, Netstal continues to expand its stable of PET preform products. A 144-cavity preform mold, produced by Mold & Hotrunner Technology AG of Hochheim/Main, Germany, graced the Netstal booth in Dusseldorf.
Netstal said the mold can turn out 51,000 preforms an hour, vs. 34,500 an hour on its next-largest mold, with 96 cavities. Both run on a 660-ton press.
To shorten preform cooling time, the transfer gripper has a built-in air supply and nozzles. The gripper passes the preforms to the cooling block.
At K, the 660-ton PET-Line injection press running the preform mold boasted a lock-to-lock time of 2.7 seconds, thanks to a preplasticizing unit driven by an electric motor, and a plunge to sent the melted PET into the mold.
Netstal is challenging Canada's Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. in preform machines. Husky made news at K 2001 by expanding into PET blow molding machines. But don't expect Netstal to follow, Merki said.
“We stay with the first step of making the preforms,” Merki said. “We will stay in our core competencies” of injection presses to mold optical discs, PET preforms and standard machines for high-speed, thin-wall molding.