Husky Injection Molding Systems Inc. kicked off its new Thixomolding press - Husky's first mass-market machine for magnesium molding - during a May 24 tour at its Bolton headquarters factory for industry leaders.
The press is based on Husky's Hylectric machine platform.
Husky and Japan Steel Works Ltd. of Hiroshima, Japan, are the two machinery-maker licensees of Thixomat Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich. Husky and Thixomat co-sponsored the International Thixomolding Magnesium Conference, held May 22-24 in Toronto.
Husky - better known for its machines to injection mold plastics - rolled out the red carpet for the 170 conference attendees. Husky officials believe the tour marked one of the largest groups to go through the Bolton factory complex.
Thixomolding works by using modified injection molding technology, complete with a reciprocating screw and heater bands, to melt magnesium at very high temperatures, then quickly ram the material into a mold. Thixomat is marketing the technology to plastic molders and die-casting companies.
Husky has made a few prototype Thixomolding machines - one is housed at Thixomat, and Husky delivered another to Phillips Plastics Corp. in Eau Claire, Wis., in 1999.
Ed Estergaard, Phillips' vice president of manufacturing, said the company gave Husky a lot of feedback for designing the new machine.
Two other early versions - the third beta machine and Husky's very-first Thixomolding press - are at Husky's Advanced Manufacturing Center in Bolton. During the May 24 open house they were running alongside the brand-new press, showing the evolution of technology.
``This is going to be the production machine,'' said Zac Glasford, Husky's Thixomolding project engineer.
He said the original machines did not meet Husky standards because they were too much like traditional plastics machines, just modified to run faster and with hotter barrel zones.
Injecting magnesium requires very high speeds. At the Toronto conference, experts compared it with firing a cannon.
``All the recoil and the shock, that's why we had to make the new design that much stronger,'' Glasford said.
For injection, the magnesium has to blow out a plug of semisolidified material, then the mold quickly fills. That causes shock and vibration in the machine, and the barrel can compress and spring back - actions that do not happen in plastics, where shot speeds are much slower.
Glasford said Husky beefed up the injection housing, to a robust 2,500 pounds. For plastic injection molding, the normal housing weighs about 600 pounds, he said. The housing is connected to the platen by standoff blocks. Force moves from the injection unit through the housing and blocks, then directly to the platen.
Glasford said Husky's new Thixomolding press is easier to use than its predecessors. The Hylectric platform uses standard parts that are widely available.
``It runs well, and people throughout the world can service it,'' Glasford said.
The press also has a Polaris controller.
Husky is far behind JSW, which has sold 211 Thixomolding machines worldwide since 1997. But the Canadian press maker is committed to the magnesium market.