The fortune of the all-electric injection molding machine in Europe, where it formerly made little impact, seems to be on the turn if recent successes recorded by Ferromatik Milacron Europe are repeated elsewhere.
In the four months since May 2002, about 40 percent of all FME's new orders for injection presses by unit were for all-electric machines, the company announced with a note of triumph at Interplas 2002, held Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 in Birmingham.
That is a significant turnaround compared with the machines' sales performance last year.
In 2001, with only its original, high-priced Elektra Classic series of machines on the market for most of the year, all-electric presses represented just 7 percent of its total units sold, according to FME.
A crucial factor in the recent success story was the firm's launch of its simpler, lower- priced Elektra Evolution press series a year ago.
The Evolution slashed in half the price differential with hydraulics while still offering major energy savings.
Predictably, about half the all-electrics sold by the European subsidiary of Milacron Inc. of Batavia, Ohio, in the second quarter of 2002 were Evolutions.
``With this machine, we think the time is over when all-electric machines were considered to be very expensive, very exclusive ... and only reserved for medical or thin-wall packaging use,'' said Hans Steupert, FME's sales director.
The star feature of the FME booth at Interplas 2002 was an operating Elektra Evolution 110 injection press.
Today all-electric presses represent about 55 percent of Milacron's total business in the United States.
On the blow molding equipment front, Milacron is continuing to invest in Europe. Last year the firm's Uniloy Milacron subsidiary began operating an 86,000-square-foot production plant in Magenta, Italy.
Uniloy Milacron highlighted several machinery improvements at Interplas, including the introduction of a 6-liter, horizontal-shuttle model, and the planned unveiling of a clean-room-friendly injection blow molding machine, according to Colin Taylor, general manager of Milacron UK Ltd. of Banbury, England.