General-purpose molding is leaving the United States for Asia in large chunks, and Demag Plastics Group wants to keep up with the changes, officials said during NPE 2003.
Bill Carteaux, a co-executive managing director of DPG, said before 2001 that general-purpose molding accounted for 60 percent of the North American market for injection presses. While medium- and large-part molding seems to be staying, smaller-part molding is moving to China and other Asian nations, he said during a June 24 news conference.
Carteaux cited a trend toward multicomponent molding, manufacturing cells and high-speed molding. DPG also announced some information technology news - a deal with Syscon PlantStar to embed that firm's production and process monitoring systems into the Pathfinder 6000 series of controllers.
Demag Plastics Group also introduced its first direct-drive, all-electric press, the IntElect DD.
In other machinery news, the company said it will expand the sizes of its hybrid-press El-Exis, the original belt-and-ball-screw version of the IntElect and the two-platen Caliber.
NPE-goers also got a look at the new small-tonnage hydraulic press, the Extra, launched last year in Europe, and the Multi, designed for multicomponent, multimaterial molding.
But for Demag Plastics Group, showing its new identity was as important as any piece of equipment the company showed in McCormick Place.
``We have the first common appearance of Demag Plastics Group in the world,'' said Gerd Liebig, chief strategic and marketing officer.
DPG was born in November, when sister injection press makers Demag Ergotech GmbH and Van Dorn Demag Corp. announced they were merging. The merged company uses the Van Dorn brand name in the United States and Ergotech in Europe.
DPG is using a ``platform strategy,'' building components and subassemblies at its six plants in Germany, the United States, India and China for final assembly at the plant near the end market.
By moving into direct-drive, all-electric presses, DPG is entering a realm mostly populated by Japanese suppliers. The machines eschew belts. Instead, they transmit the circular motion of an electric motor into the linear motion needed to run a press using mechanical means.
The IntElect DD at NPE - a 110-ton press that molded electrical connectors on a four-cavity mold - is a ``first-class prototype.'' The company plans to roll out the machine commercially in the second quarter of 2004, after field testing. The firm also plans to make 50- and 80-ton DD models.
The direct-drive press uses Siemens electric drives. ``One of our main points was easy maintenance,'' said Helmar Franz, the other co-executive managing director who runs the company with Carteaux.
Initially, Demag Plastics Group is assembling the IntElect DD in Wiehe, Germany, but officials said the company may build the DD at DPG's U.S. assembly plant in Strongsville, Ohio, in the future. Strongsville already builds the original belt-drive IntElect.
Franz and Carteaux are touting the direct-drive electric press as an example of common research and development by DPG engineers in different parts of the world. Employees in the United States, Germany and India shared the R&D duties.
According to DPG, all-electric presses now account for more than 25 percent of the U.S. market for injection molding machines. By 2005, that figure will climb to 40 percent, the company said.
Mark Lepole, a technical training instructor, explained at NPE the basics of how the direct drive works. The machine uses three direct-drive motors - one to move the clamp and two for injection. A bolt spins around a ball screw to power the machine, providing direct transmission of power.
Demag Plastics Group also announced:
* The high-speed El-Exis S, which now runs from 66-460 tons, will get a size boost to 610 tons by the second quarter of 2004. Company leaders think the El-Exis S, along with the HT toggle press, will lead the company's U.S. market-share growth, increasing 5-10 percent a year through 2006.
* The IntElect press with belt-and-ball-screw technology will range from 50-385 tons. Currently, the line tops out at 280 tons. In Chicago, a 50-ton IntElect molded medical pipettes, and a 165-tonner used the Twinshot process to turn out polycarbonate flying discs covered with a soft-touch thermoplastic elastomer.
* The Caliber will get two smaller sizes, reflecting what Carteaux said is a growing demand for the space savings of two-platen machines in all press sizes. The Caliber had ranged from 1,100-4,400 tons. DPG is adding a 500-ton press, a 730-ton model and a 950-ton machine. In Chicago, a 950-ton Caliber molded a top for a kitty litter box.
* At the DPG stand, an El-Exis Multi press made bottle caps using two different types of polypropylene on two injection units with a rotary-platen mold. The press is part of the Multi series of multicomponent machines, in clamping forces of 50-385 tons. (From 460-1,430 tons, the company offers customized multicomponent machines.) New at NPE was the Multi-plug, which retrofits an existing standard injection press with a second injection unit, mounted either horizontally or vertically.
* DPG launched the German-built Extra press in Europe in early 2002, and has built 1,000 of them. At NPE, North Americans got a look as an Extra molded an ABS shower head. The general-purpose press comes in eight sizes from 28-220 tons. The presses from 28-120 tons use a hydraulic clamping unit; those from 140-220 tons have a toggle clamp.
Features on the Extra include parallel ejector function and mold opening, for on-the-fly part injection.
* DPG will continue to make the popular Van Dorn HT toggle press - which company officials said has an installed base of a whopping 7,500 units in North America. It comes in clamping forces of 85-650 tons. The company announced that it sold No. 7,500 to Van Blarcom Closures Inc. of New York. The long-time customer, which makes child-resistant closures, runs more than 50 Van Dorns.
* In vertical-press news, long-term plans call for the Van Dorn Praxis and Van Dorn Newbury machines to be harmonized into one series, with clamping forces of 27-365 tons.