Japan's Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd. is about to crack the 2,000-ton barrier for all-electric injection molding machines.
Separately, Meiki Co. Ltd. plans to expand into hybrid technology, with a 1,430-ton hybrid press that uses both electric and hydraulic components. The company in Nagoya, Japan, also is working on a hybrid press with 2,640 tons of clamping force.
Ube currently makes the world's largest all-electric press, an Ultima machine with 1,550 tons of clamping force that the company first showed at NPE 2000. Now Ube plans to start selling a 2,000 Ultima this spring.
The company's unit in Ann Arbor, Mich. - Ube Machinery Inc. - has sold a 2,000-tonner to an unidentified U.S. molder, according to Taku Tawarada, marketing and sales manager.
Ube revealed its plans for the 2,000-ton press in a news release announcing that its 1,550-ton electric had won a top prize for energy conservation from the Japanese Machine Federation. The award is linked to the Japanese government's strategy of promoting energy savings.
Market demand prompted Ube to make even larger machines. Current technology for electric motors and components has limited the size of all-electric presses. Ube's patented system for synchronizing two motors makes the larger machines possible, said Jason Forgash, regional sales manager for Ube in Ann Arbor.
The 2,000-ton Ultima can pump home a shot that weighs nearly 20 pounds, when equipped with the largest available injection unit. The maximum injection rate is 104 cubic inches per second. Tie-bar spacing is 72 inches by 52 inches. The platens measure 98 inches by 78 inches.
Ube builds the all-electric presses in Ube City, Japan. Including the 2,000-ton press, the Ultima series now consists of 13 sizes, starting at 35 tons.
Fewer details are available on the big hybrids coming from Meiki. Although the firm sells a range of equipment, in the U.S. market the company is best known for its smaller compact-disc molding machines.
The 1,430-ton hybrid press will be available for sale in the United States this October, according to Sei Takabe, head of sales at Meiki America Corp. in Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Meiki uses the term ``electric'' to describe its Nadem series of presses, in clamping forces of 88-550 tons. In reality, though, the direct-clamping machine uses a very small amount of oil - about 1 gallon - placing it in the hybrid category. In the proprietary Nadem technology, an electric servomotor and a ball screw generate the hydraulic pressure. Takabe said Meiki calls the machines electric because they do not use hydraulic pumps.
Meiki introduced the Nadem design in early 2001.
Takabe said Meiki is using more of a traditional hybrid design on the 1,453-ton and the future 2,640-ton presses, but he did not provide details when interviewed in March.