CHICAGO (June 22, 12:05 p.m. EDT) — Visitors to NPE 2003 are greeting a “new” company: Demag Plastics Group (Booth S2202).
“We have the first common appearance of Demag Plastics Group in the world,” said Gerd Liebig, chief strategic and marketing officer.
DPG was born in November when sister injection press makers Demag Ergotech GmbH and Van Dorn Demag Corp. announced they were merging into a single company. The merged company is continuing to use the Van Dorn brand name in the United States.
DPG is using a “platform strategy,” building components and subassemblies at its six plants in Germany, the Unites States, India and China, for final assembly at the plant near the end market.
Demag Plastics Group plans to complete the worldwide harmonization of its product lines by the K 2004 show next fall in Germany. But at NPE 2003, the company is announcing some machinery news, including the group's first direct-drive, all-electric press, called the IntElect DD.
In other NPE news, Demag Plastics Group is expanding the sizes of its hybrid El-Exis press, the original belt-and-ball-screw version of the IntElect and the two-platen Caliber.
NPE-goers also get a look at the new small-tonnage hydraulic press, the Extra, launched last year in Europe, and the Multi, designed for multicomponent, multimaterial molding.
Demag Plastics Group officials announced their show plans at a pre-NPE press conference, conducted via telephone and the Internet in mid-May.
By moving into direct-drive, all-electric presses, DPG is entering a realm mostly populated by Japanese suppliers. These machines eschew belts. Instead, they transmit the circular motion of an electric motor directly into the linear motion needed to run an injection press, using mechanical means.
Officially, the IntElect DD on display at NPE this week is a “first-class prototype.” Bill Carteaux, a co-executive managing director of DPG, said the company plans to roll out the machine commercially in the second quarter of 2004.
The direct-drive press uses Siemens electric drives. “One of our main points was easy maintenance,” said Helmar Franz, the other co-executive managing director, who runs the company with Carteaux.
Initially, Demag Plastics Group is assembling the IntElect DD in Wiehe, Germany, but officials said the company may build the DD at DPG's U.S. assembly plant in Strongsville, Ohio, in the future. Strongsville already builds the original belt-drive IntElect.
Franz and Carteaux are touting the direct-drive electric press as an example of common research and development by DPG engineers in different parts of the world. Employees in the United States, Germany and India shared research and development duties.
According to DPG, all-electric presses now account for about 30 percent of the U.S. market for injection molding machines. By the end of 2004, that will climb to 40 percent.
Demag Plastics Group is announcing the following news:
* The high-speed El-Exis S, which now runs from 66-460 tons, will get a size boost to 610 tons by the second quarter of 2004. DPG leaders have high hopes for the El-Exis S — they think that machine, along with the HT toggle press, will lead the company's U.S. market-share growth, increasing 5-10 percent a year through 2006.
* The IntElect press with belt and ball screw will range from 50-385 tons. Currently, the line tops out at 280 tons.
* The Caliber will get two smaller sizes, reflecting what Carteaux said is a growing demand for the space savings of two-platen machines in all press sizes. Currently, the Caliber ranges from 1,100-4,400 tons. DPG is adding a 500-ton press and a 950-ton machine. The 950-tonner is molding parts at McCormick Place.
* At the DPG stand, an El-Exis Multi press is making bottle caps using two different types of polypropylene, on two injection units with a rotary-platen mold. The press is part of the Multi series of multicomponent machines, in clamping forces from 50-385 tons. (From 460-1,430 tons, the company offers customized multicomponent machines). New at NPE is the Multi-plug, which retrofits an existing standard injection press with a second injection unit, mounted either horizontally or vertically. Liebig said that, although automotive is still the main market for multicomponent molding, packaging represents a growing market.
* DPG launched the German-built Extra press in Europe in early 2002, and has built 1,000 of them. Now North Americans get a look, as an Extra is molding an ABS shower head at the booth. The general-purpose press comes in eight sizes from 28-220 tons. The presses from 28-120 tons use a hydraulic clamping unit; those from 140-220 tons have a toggle clamp. Features on the Extra include parallel ejector function and mold opening, for part ejection “on the fly.”
* DPG will continue to make the popular Van Dorn HT toggle press — which company officials said has an installed base of a whopping 7,000 units in North America. It comes in clamping forces of 85-650 tons.
* In vertical-press news, long-term plans call for the Van Dorn Praxis and Van Dorn Newbury machines to be integrated into one series, with clamping forces from 27-365 tons.
DPG is owned by Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG, the world's largest maker of plastics equipment. New York buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. bought MPM in 2002.
DPG leaders have set a goal, called Vision 3000, to sell 3,000 injection presses in 2005. In 2002, after the merger, the company sold a combined total of 2,000 machines.
Market-share goals by 2005 are to reach 15 percent in North America, 13 percent in Europe and 5 percent in Asia.
In the pre-NPE press conference, Carteaux and Franz declined to give 2002 sales. In an earlier story, Plastics News reported 2001 sales of $319 million — $219 million from Demag Ergotech and $100 million from Van Dorn Demag. The DPG executives said 2002 sales were close to that number again.
Carteaux said Demag Plastics Group has picked up “good firm orders” recently. “It's still soft, but in the last few months we've seen some light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
The aftermarket parts business is good, showing that molders are investing in their equipment, he said.