This NPE, people are talking about what Milacron is not showing at its booth: machines.
That's a big change for a company that at NPE 2000 carted 37 pieces of equipment to McCormick Place. But just because they have no iron on the floor, Milacron officials insist that doesn't mean they have no new technology. Milacron (Booths S1640 and S3006) also is announcing:
* A 1,125-ton Powerline, its largest ever all-electric press.
* A line of Roboshot all-electrics, with artificial intelligence.
* New, smaller Maxima two-platen presses.
* A new single-step injection stretch blow molder for wide-neck bottles.
* A new line of shuttle blow molders.
Besides, visitors to Milacron's NPE exhibit will see plenty of machines running via live video linked through the Internet.
Milacron is running five interactive demonstrations during the show. Visitors can still ``touch'' a machine - through a ``smart board'' plasma-display touch screen. You can change parameters on the presses, which are running at Milacron's factory in Batavia, Ohio. Two-way audio between Batavia and Chicago allows people at NPE to ask questions or direct the camera to desired angles.
Milacron leaders are touting it all as leading-edge.
``This unique product and technology display is a first for Milacron and, perhaps, indicative of the future for trade shows, mold demonstrations from the manufacturer and technology displays of huge machinery,'' said Robert Strickley, vice president of sales for Ferromatik Milacron, the injection molding press unit. He said the technology allows Milacron to show ``a surprisingly content-rich presentation without machines on the floor.''
One demonstration shows in-mold painting of a Neon bumper fascia, running on Milacron's newly designed Maxima 3000 two-platen press. A Fanuc robot places a multilayer film preform into the mold before injection of the polypropylene fascia.
Other televised demos include high-speed molding of thin-wall packaging on a new Maxima 1125 press and high-speed molding on an all-electric Powerline. At Chicago, the company will display a two-stage Powerline injection unit.
Televised live blow molding demonstrations also are planned.
Milacron also is showing videotapes of molding jobs from nearly 20 customer plants involving extrusion, blow molding and injection molding. Mold builders and other experts will be at the booth for consultation with customers.
An area dubbed the Multicomponent Solution Center will give free consulting on specific parts. ``We're asking manufacturers and molders to bring their part drawings, designs or models to NPE and let us recommend the most productive multicomponent processing strategies - ones that eliminate assembly or molding operations, shorten cycle times, increase functionality or reduce costs and time to market,'' said Hermann Plank, director of multicomponent technologies at Ferromatik Milacron North America.
And NPE attendees who still crave actual, physical contact with a machine, do not despair: High-speed Ferromatik Milacron K-TEC presses from Germany will be running at two booths. Mold-maker Foboha GmbH (Booth N4975) will demonstrate a turning stack technology molding cell phone covers. At Hekuma Herbst Maschinenbau GmbH (Booth S291), a Hekuma robot inserts a label into a four-cavity mold, then injects a PP container, all on a 3.5-second cycle.
Both are premiers for a U.S. trade show.
Milacron gave Plastics News a sneak peak at its technology news during a visit to Batavia in late May.
Blow molding and extrusion
This year, Milacron's NPE emphasis is to help customers become more competitive by answering questions about specific end-parts and technologies, such as coinjection molding, automation and multicomponent molding.
But Glenn Anderson said extrusion and industrial blow molding has always worked that way-one application at a time. ``We're assembling experts to focus on end-customer applications,'' said Anderson, director of sales and marketing for those two machinery segments. ``When we go to visit a customer, we're not bringing an extruder or blow molding machine in our briefcase.''
In Chicago, Milacron is touting people power for extrusion, including: Tom Brown, general sales manager of ExtrusionTek Milacron; Horst Eigruber, a consultant with 45 years of experience; long-time screw designer James Frankland; Jim Griggs, an experienced development engineer at extrusion companies; Roderick Hughes, with 40 years of experience in extrusion and compounding machinery; and Ernst Krueger, a researcher at the German IKV plastics institute.
Milacron makes single-screw and twin-screw extruders - both parallel and conical twins - for applications such as window profiles, wood flour, vinyl siding and packaging. The company is now marketing its twin-screw machines under the CPM Milacron name worldwide.
In screw news, Plastic Engineering Associates Licensing Inc. will display its Turbo-Screws-secondary cooling screws for foam extrusion in Milacron's booth. It marks the first public showing of the technology.
In industrial blow molding, booth visitors can meet Tony Brown, engineering manager for extrusion/industrial blow molding and Ben Lopez, a 20-year industry veteran who is Uniloy Milacron's global product manager.
Technology news from Uniloy Milacron includes a line of accumulator heads that can run oversized tooling and the use of fiber-optic cabling to link the machine to Milacron's Xtreem controller, which makes the system immune from electronic factory noise.
Milacron also has added three new, larger models to its Tracker line of accumulator-head machines, with the T-1000 (140-tons of clamping force with a platen size of 64 inches by 64 inches); T-2300 (295 tons, 86 inches by 86 inches); and T-2900 (325 tons, 74 inches by 98 inches, or 74 inches by 110 inches). The machines can mold parts up to 120 inches long and weighing up to 100 pounds, at plasticizing rates up to 3,000 pounds an hour.
The new blow molding heads - offered in a range from 10-50 pounds - offer improved flexibility, said Gary Harvey, general sales manager for industrial blow molding. They have been designed to run very large tooling on smaller heads. Other features include a fixed spiral design, quick color change and increased push-out rates.
In shuttle blow molders to make polyethylene packaging, Uniloy Milacron is teaming with FGH Systems Inc. to introduce the BWF 16 D. The blow molding machine is shown at FGH's exhibit (Booth S2855). The tie-barless machine can be fitted to hold up to six parisons per clamp, in one- or two-clamp configurations.
Features include in-mold trimming and closed-loop control of position and speed.
The BWF 16 D was engineered by B&W, Uniloy Milacron's subsidiary in Berlin.
Uniloy Milacron is announcing its single-step injection-stretch blow molding machine for wide-mouth and oval-shaped containers, the U750-130 at NPE 2003. The in-line machine is designed to make bottles for food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.
The injection molding tonnage is 130. The blow clamp tonnage is 60.
Milacron said the U750-130 series, like its narrow-neck cousin the U750-60, is ideal for molders that want to do small and medium-sized runs of different containers on a single machine. A special injection tooling cartridge system installs as a single unit, reducing tool change time to just minutes by a single operator.
In other packaging news, Milacron has added four new models to its VersaPET line of all-electric PET blow molding machines. They do 4, 5, 8 and 10-cavity molding of bottles up to three liters, and with neck diameters of 28-38 millimeters. Milacron introduced the VersaPET at NPE 2000.
Turning to injection molding, Milacron has started to produce a 1,125-ton Powerline all-electric press, which tops the previous largest machine, a 935-tonner. Milacron also is introducing an all-electric press with artificial intelligence: Roboshot Si-B, in clamping forces from 55-330 tons. Artificial intelligence is used in the new AI Ejector Protection and improved AI Mold Protection. The controller divides the closing force profile into three zones, allowing separate high-force limits to be set for each one. Similarly, by monitoring the load on the servo motor running the ejector, it ``learns'' the ideal ejector-force profile - and can stop the cycle at once if the force is too high.
A new AI metering function learns an ideal recovery cycle, then adjusts the screw revolution speed.
Milacron is targeting the super-fast Si-B to thin-wall and precision parts molding, such as connectors and cell-phone components. The press takes just 27 milliseconds to get moving at a blazing 300 millimeters per second. The artificial intelligence, plus the electric technology, creates overlapping functions and reduces cycle time.
The company is making two-platen news as well, with smaller sizes of its Maxima press. The 310-ton, 580-ton and 880-ton presses have wide-platen designs and generous tie-bar spacing, but take up less space. Maxima machines build tonnage with a pancake-shaped ram mounted in the moving platen. The large surface of the ram distributes clamping force evenly across the back of the die plate, similar to a conventional three-platen press.
Structural foam units
In 2002, Milacron moved assembly of its Uniloy blow molding machines and structural foam molding machines from Manchester, Mich., to its main Batavia factory. Last month, the company completed its first Batavia-built structural foam machine.
Ed Hunerberg, executive director of the structural foam business, said Milacron would not disclose the customer, but he said the company already has a large number of Uniloy structural foam presses. The molder is the 1,000-ton press to mold four parts, which are all part of the same assembly. Each of the parts measures 4 feet by 5 feet.
To hold the four big molds, the machine features a custom-built high-platen that measures 101 inches tall by 153 inches wide.
The large, multinozzle press is fed by two extruders, each with a screw diameter of 6 inches. Each extruder is equipped with a 75-pound shot accumulator, giving a total shot size of 150 pounds.
Hunerberg said the Batavia-built press was produced by a team of Uniloy-Milacron structural foam specialists and Batavia veterans experienced in building large-tonnage injection molding machines.
Uniloy Milacron President James Moore said structural foam machines fit into Milacron's increased focus on process solutions. Producing the same four parts by conventional injection molding would have required four 3,000-ton presses, he said.
The company also is rolling out a new Independent Nozzle Control System. Platens of the Uniloy structural foam press are full of holes, where the molder can arrange a large number of injection nozzles. Hunerberg said that traditionally, operators had to manually adjust the nozzles. The new computerized system controls when each nozzle opens and closes, independently.
``You can use the computer to balance the system,'' Hunerberg said.