Toolmaker StackTeck Systems Inc. plans to introduce several pioneering injection molding processes to North America in a bid to expand its business to loftier levels.
The Brampton, Ontario, company has ventured across the pond to Europe to form partnerships with three separate companies providing the technology for the new approaches to container applications.
All the ventures will advance the injection molding of thin-wall packaging parts, said StackTeck President David Brown at NPE 2003 (Booth E9940). StackTeck will act as a turnkey supplier for the technologies, providing complete systems to its packaging customers.
``This will take us beyond being known as a toolmaker,'' Brown said of the ambitious projects.
One of those partnerships, with robotics specialist Machines Pages Groupe FDP of Foncine Le Haut, France, was created to further in-mold labeling, a process used more frequently in Europe than in North America but normally not for thin-wall containers, Brown said. A machine is running the process at StackTeck's booth.
The company plans to work with several injection molding equipment suppliers to provide presses for the process. StackTeck will assemble the complete system, after building, including molds built in Brampton or at its Fairway Molds subsidiary in Los Angeles.
The process allows for a quick change in a product from one label to another, Brown said. ``You can change it from vanilla to chocolate very quickly on a cup,'' he said.
The companies are working on five projects in North America that will use the new packaging system, Brown said. The machine running at NPE 2003 will be sent to a customer in Mexico after the event is over, he added.
The largest challenge faced by the new venture is to use in-mold labeling for higher-volume applications. The company will start by using the process primarily for single-cavity molds but plans to develop cost-competitive solutions for larger applications, he said.
The company also is starting an ambitious partnership with development company Im-Pak Technologies Ltd. of Petworth, England, to challenge existing notions about manufacturing drinking cups.
The six-person British company has patented an injection compression molding process that the company says can save production time. Material is injected - using a conventional press - and formed within the mold cavity during the closing sequence, said Im-Pak commercial director Richard Vessey.
The process can produce thinner parts than with conventional systems and make containers in half the cycle time, he said.
The system was developed four years ago by Im-Pak founder Peter Clarke. The company was seeking a North American partner to help advance the process and assist with the toolmaking portion, Vessey said.
The companies expect to launch a commercial system soon after the show, said Henry Rozema, StackTeck director of commercial operations and innovation.
StackTeck also is launching a technology partnership with Coralfoam Ltd., another company started by Clarke in Petworth, England.
Coralfoam has developed a process to add a foaming agent during the molding process, expanding the plastic into thicker regions of a container. The process is suited for adding ribs and insulation material to drinking cups and other injection-molded containers, Rozema said.
The thin-wall packaging ventures will help StackTeck move to the forefront of an industry not especially known for innovations in drinking cups and other containers, Brown said.
``In all these cases, we'll be only North American systems provider for the new [innovations],'' he said. ``We'll handle all logistics. It puts us on the leading edge of technology, which is where the company should be.''