CHICAGO (July 1, 12:30 p.m. EDT) — This NPE, people were talking about what Milacron was 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 it had no iron on the floor didn't mean it had no new technology. Milacron announced:
* 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 molding machine for wide-neck bottles.
* A new line of shuttle blow molders.
Besides, visitors to Milacron's NPE exhibit saw plenty of machines running via live Internet video links.
Milacron ran five interactive demonstrations during the show. Visitors still could “touch” a machine — through a “smart board” plasma-display touch screen. They could change parameters on the presses, which were running at Milacron's factory in Batavia, Ohio. Two-way audio between Batavia and Chicago allowed people at NPE to ask questions or direct the camera to desired angles.
Milacron leaders touted 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 allowed Milacron to show “a surprisingly content-rich presentation without machines on the floor.”
One demonstration showed in-mold painting of a Neon bumper fascia running on Milacron's newly designed Maxima 3000 two-platen press. A Fanuc robot placed a multilayer film preform into the mold before injection of the polypropylene fascia.
Other televised demos included 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 displayed a two-stage Powerline injection unit.
Milacron also showed videotapes of molding jobs from nearly 20 customer plants involving extrusion, blow molding and injection molding. Mold builders and other experts were at the booth for consultation with customers.
NPE attendees who still craved actual, physical contact with a machine found high-speed Ferromatik Milacron K-TEC presses from Germany running at two booths. Mold-maker Foboha GmbH demonstrated a turning stack technology molding cell phone covers. At Hekuma Herbst Maschinenbau GmbH, a Hekuma robot inserted a label into a four-cavity mold, then injected a PP container, all on a 3.5-second cycle.
Both were 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 was 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 always has 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 touted 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- 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. displayed its Turbo-Screws —secondary cooling screws for foam extrusion — at Milacron's booth, marking the first public showing of the technology.
In industrial blow molding, booth visitors could 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 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 molding machines to make polyethylene packaging, Uniloy Milacron teamed with FGH Systems Inc. to introduce the BWF 16 D. 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 announced its single-step injection-stretch blow molding machine for wide-mouth and oval-shaped containers, the U750-130. 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-size 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 3 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 introduced an all-electric press with artificial intelligence: Roboshot Si-B, in clamping forces of 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 superfast 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 made two-platen news as well, with smaller sizes of its Maxima press. The 310-, 580- 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. In May, 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 rolled 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 adjust the nozzles manually. The new, computerized system controls when each nozzle opens and closes, independently.
“You can use the computer to balance the system,” Hunerberg said.