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 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, held June 23-27 in Chicago. StackTeck will act as a turnkey supplier of the systems.
``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 ran the process at StackTeck's booth.
StackTeck plans to work with several injection molding equipment suppliers to provide presses for the process. It will assemble the complete systems in Brampton or at its Fairway Molds subsidiary in Los Angeles.
The process allows for a product's quick change 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 that ran at NPE was destined for a customer in Mexico, he added.
The firm will start by using the process primarily for single-phase molds, but plans to develop cost-competitive versions for larger applications, he said. The firm also is starting an ambitious partnership with development firm Im-Pak Technologies Ltd. of Petworth, England, to challenge existing notions about making drinking cups.
The six-person British company has patented an injection compression molding process that it said 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 companies expect to launch a commercial system soon, said Henry Rozema, StackTeck director of commercial operations and innovation.
StackTeck also is launching a technology partnership with Coralfoam Ltd., another firm 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.