At NPE 2003, Battenfeld of America Inc. showed all-electric molding, micromolding, in-mold trimming and decorating of a car part and - in what Battenfeld said is a trade-show premier - the IMPmore process for injection-compression molding car windows out of polycarbonate.
Battenfeld also rolled out a special high-speed model of its HM press, called the Advantage.
The challenges with PC automotive windows is making them at high volumes but with low mold-in stress, to avoid distortion, making the window scratch-resistant, like glass. At NPE in Chicago, Battenfeld showed the solution: partnering with German mold maker Summerer Technologies and Exatec, a joint venture of GE Plastics and Bayer Corp.
Exatec developed a plasma coating to improve scratch resistance and protect the PC from ultraviolet light.
The part being molded was a rear window for a car, said Roland Sauer, sales manager for the American market at parent company Battenfeld GmbH of Meinerzhagen, Germany.
Battenfeld molded the windows on a two-platen, 2,200-ton HM press. The press has retractable tie bars that pull back when the mold opens, allowing an ABB articulating robot to reach in to remove the part.
The injection-compression process, plus an exotic swiveling mold, are the keys to making a large PC window - a thin part with a big surface area and long flow lengths - on a relatively low-tonnage press.
Sauer spent his NPE standing in the aisle of the South Hall and describing the IMPmore process to a steady flow of NPE visitors. The Summerer mold half on the moving platen is hinged at the top, near the injection point. Like a big metal hand waving, it swivels slightly open when the cycle begins, then moves back to the normal position during the injection-compression process.
The technology reduces cavity pressure, greatly reducing molded-in stress. The robot moved the window to a polarizing station, which revealed very few stress marks.
The other automotive application, called IMCmore, did automated trimming and decorating of a back-molded textile part - a B pillar with a molded-on, sealed lip.
A 385-ton Battenfeld HM press molded the multicomponent part, with two injection units, set up in an L configuration.
First, the textile is fed from a roll and cut to size with a laser robot. A Battenfeld Unirob robot places the material inside the mold. The press overmolds the textile with polypropylene, excess material is trimmed inside the mold and finally a thermoplastic elastomer sealing lip is molded onto the pillar.
Battenfeld first showed IMCmore at K 2001 in Germany.
Also at NPE, Battenfeld sought to gain the Advantage in thin-wall molding. The new Advantage version of its HM press boasts a 50 percent higher injection rate than standard HMs. The 176-ton press, equipped with an SER 10-15 side-entry robot, whipped out PC minidisc cases. The robot moved in and out of the four-cavity mold in just one-tenth of a second.
Battenfeld also showed the EM all-electric press, molding a PC lamp socket. The melt is injected through a tunnel gate into the two mold cavities. The maker of the sliding split mold is Zumtobel Staff Werkzeugbau of Dornbirn, Austria.
The company has expanded the EM press to 176 tons of clamping force.
In micromolding news, a Microsystem 50 press molded a subconnector housing for the electronics industry that is smaller than a match head. The cycle time: just 21/2 seconds, including the time required for handling and sprue picking.
The company also demonstrated a vertical-clamp press insert molding an initiator switch for an air bag. A robot placed inserts into the eight-cavity mold.
Battenfeld partnered with a customer, LifeSparc Inc., to show the technology. LifeSparc of Hollister, Calif., molded more than 12 million of the air-bag initiators in 2002.
Battenfeld GmbH is a unit of SMS Plastics Technology of Meinerzhagen, which also makes Battenfeld Gloucester film equipment and extruders under the American Maplan, Cincinnati Extrusion and Battenfeld brands. SMS Plastics Technology, part of SMS AG of Dsseldorf, Germany, will get a new top executive later this year, when Helmut Eschwey steps down as chairman. He has held that post since 1994.
Eschwey will become chairman of Heraeus Holding GmbH, a German precious metals and technology giant. Eschwey said that Aug. 31 is his last day at SMS.
At NPE, Eschwey said sales at SMS declined 18 percent in 2002, to 427 million euros (US$404 million), down from 519 million euros in 2001. That reflected the overall weak machinery market, he said.
In extrusion news, Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. of Gloucester, Mass., ran a three-layer blown film line with a trimless edge slitter that creates no edge trim. The main extruder is an 80-millimeter, grooved-feed Contracool extruder running a blend of lower-cost low density polyethylene for the center layer. Also, the firm showed two 63mm Smooth Bore Contracool extruders for the outside layers of linear LDPE. The line also used an Autoprofile air ring.
Battenfeld Gloucester also displayed a line for extruding foam sheet, including water-cooled primary and secondary extruders, a cooling/sizing mandrel and an Opticell foam die.
SMS also showed key components for its TSL system that extrudes sheet for thermoforming - including a roll stack, post-cooling assembly equipment and a pull roll.
American Maplan Corp. of McPherson, Kan., introduced its AMC Compact line, a turnkey system designed to extrude small technical profiles such as trim moldings, cable ducts and cornering strips.
Maplan said the Compact system costs about 30 percent less than if the extrusion company buys all the pieces of equipment separately. At NPE, visitors saw a conical twin-screw version of the machine.
Maplan also introduced the Type V 125 VA vacuum calibrator for pipe, fence or natural-fiber composites. A new, dual-spider die, the RD2-10, is used to make pipe and fence with diameters of 2.3-11 inches.
Maplan displayed an SS-75-30 single-screw, grooved-feed extruder for making high density PE pipe. The screw has a length-to-diameter ratio of 30-to-1.
A Plasticolor mixing station is mounted on the machine.
The company also showed a TS-135 twin-screw extruder with screw diameters of 5.4 inches, to make pipe, profiles and siding. Features include an active screw-oil temperature-control system and venting zones.