CHICAGO (July 14, 5:05 p.m. EDT) — Fledgling flow equipment supplier Beaumont Runner Technologies Inc. is out to show the world that a 1944 Van Dorn injection press can compare favorably with a new, all-electric model.
While the 59-year-old machine requires hand-cranking a large wheel to inject the plastic via a ramrod-strong plunger, other differences are less obvious, said Beaumont President John Beaumont at NPE 2003 in Chicago. The end product is similar to that made by the modern version, with resin flowing in a comparable pattern, he said.
To prove a point that melt flow makes as much difference as the machine, the 5-year-old company operated an original, iron-clad Van Dorn model at its NPE exhibit.
“You can put 1944 technology up against a new molding machine,” Beaumont said. “With the new one, the biggest change you'll see is that scrap is more consistent. Neither machine controls the melt much differently.”
The six-employee company is proving its theory in one other way: It just signed a technology agreement with Troy, Mich.-based hot-runner supplier Incoe Corp. to use Beaumont's melt-flow product with Incoe's Opti-Flo manifold systems.
Beaumont's product, the MeltFlipper, gives customers the ability to control the material after it leaves the injection nozzle. The melt-rotation molding technology now is sold under a site-license fee to customers.
Incoe and Beaumont are test-marketing the MeltFlipper-manifold coupling using tooling provided by Sunset Mold Corp. of Venice, Fla., Beaumont said. The companies hope to launch the product commercially after NPE, he said.
The antique Van Dorn press originally belonged to equipment supplier Conair Group of Pittsburgh before it was donated to Penn State University's Behrend College campus in Erie, Pa. Erie-based Beaumont is based at the university, where the company president still teaches classes. The machine sat in the basement of a university building for years, Beaumont said.
“We dusted off the mothballs and refurbished it in the labs,” he said. “It makes a nice piece of plastic.”
The equipment looks a bit imposing — a smaller, gray mechanical version of the Incredible Hulk. The process is archaic by today's standards.
An old Watlow heater made of iron sends the resin's temperature up to 400° F after an operator turns a crank that looks like a skipper's wheel on a luxury boat liner. Instead of automated controls, a manual crank moves the clamp and pushes out parts.
The same operator must add resin by hand to a small feeder before the ram pushes it into the heater system. According to Van Dorn history, the hand-operated system was showcased by the equipment maker at the first NPE in 1945.
The machine was one of the first models made by then-Cleveland-based Van Dorn Iron Works Co., said David Hoffman, Beaumont technical sales and marketing manager. The Van Dorn Demag Corp. is not assisting in the display, opting to showcase its recent vintages of presses.
Beaumont also is moving to a more modern software package as part of its growth. The firm is launching an automated program called the 5 Step Process to help companies diagnose the bugs in the mold-sampling stage. The system measures imbalances in resin flow to a mold and diagnoses filling variations.
Several outside distributors and suppliers are evaluating the system, Hoffman said.
If that succeeds, the company will have other products to talk about at the next NPE than the might of the Van Dorn “Midget” molding machine.