DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 12, 12:35 p.m. EST) — Sales are down in this difficult year for Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH, but the machinery maker is gaining market share, according to its top executive.
Chairman Wilhelm SchrÃ¶der said 2001 sales will be about 5 percent lower than last year. The drop in orders will be greater, at 10-15 percent. The slowdown mainly is hurting KM's injection molding and extrusion sales, and is worse in the U.S. market, where business has declined by 45 percent.
KM's smaller polyurethane processing machinery segment is enjoying strong growth, as the automotive industry is snapping up new technology.
Krauss-Maffei of Munich, Germany, has been able to win share because the overall plastics equipment market has declined more sharply, SchrÃ¶der said at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
SchrÃ¶der was asked to make a prediction about next year. “To be honest, I'm not too optimistic for the next 18 months,” he said.
In technology, KM's big news was the debut of an “almost all-electric” injection press, the Eltec. The press comes in four clamp-force sizes: 55, 88, 121 and 165 tons. Within each size, customers can pick from among five injection units and four screw diameters.
The Eltec holds just 2 liters of oil to make the final clamp movement and build up clamping force. Electric power runs everything else. One unusual feature is a beltless, direct-drive electric motor, developed with Siemens AG.
Krauss-Maffei also introduced a version of its triathlon press for molding digital versatile discs, now with electric drive. The machine meets the extreme demands for precision involved in DVD production, with very thin polycarbonate substrates and miniaturization of the pit structures.
Moving to thicker PC molding, KM introduced a process, expansion compression molding, to make thick-wall eyeglass lenses on a fast-cycling machine. The first stage produces optical surface quality. In the second, the mold opens a fraction, allowing the melt to expand to its final thickness.
KM also showed its commercialized IMC machine, for injection molding compounding. A compounding extruder from sister company Berstorff GmbH sits atop a KM press, and feeds the press with material. KM showed a prototype at the last K, in 1998.
In bulk molding compound technology, the company announced a new larger-size, 715-ton press. Also new: a more-durable check valve.
For polyurethane fans, meanwhile, KM and INO Press GmbH of Waiblingen, Germany, have developed machines for making acoustic panels for cars. First, a heavy, barium-sulfate-filled PU layer is produced by reaction injection molding, then a second flexible foam layer is applied on top. One advantage: the heavy layer can be produced in different thicknesses and shapes, and customized for each car model.
Krauss-Maffei also brought out new extruders. A new generation of counter-rotating, twin-screw extruders for pipe and sheet boasts two venting zones instead of one. Air escapes from the first venting zone, then the material goes through a compression phase before the second vent, where a vacuum sucks out the remaining air and volatile gases.
KM claims that removing the air early in the process improves the heat transfer, and boosts output by 17 percent.
The company also showed its KMG series of direct extruders. The machines compound the material, then feed it into an extruder to make the final product.
KM also announced it has built the first complete production line for integral vinyl foam sheet up to 6½ feet wide. The line is in operation at Veka AG's factory in Sendenhorst, Germany. Integral foaming uses an inward foaming process, in contrast to free-rise foaming. The product can be used for interior paneling, shelving and facades.