Swiss injection press maker Netstal-Maschinen AG wants to capitalize on the emerging U.S. market for in-mold labeling of packaging.
Bernard Merki, president and chief executive officer, said Netstal holds an 85 percent market share in Europe, where IML is much more common.
``IML is almost not a topic today [in the United States]. But it will start now. The first installations are being made,'' Merki said during Netstal's June 23 news conference at NPE 2003.
NPE marked the North American debut of Netstal's new size of the Synergy press as a 550-ton Synergy molded a low density polyethylene packaging lid on a 48-cavity mold at a 4.5-second cycle. Netstal introduced the Synergy line at NPE 2000, showing a 600-ton model. The 500-tonner was displayed at the K'01 show in Germany.
Merki said Netstal, of Nfels, Switzerland, has sold 40 Synergy machines since NPE 2000.
Netstal also showed an e-Jet all-electric press molding digital versatile disc substrates on a 2.6-second cycle. Merki said optical disc cycles keep getting faster. ``It goes down and down and down,'' he said.
In PET preforms, Netstal said one of its PET-Line presses with a 144-cavity mold can turn out 1 million preforms a day. Merki said Netstal has stayed focused on single-layer preforms, and has no plans to get into multilayer technology for emerging PET markets like beer. Without giving details, he said new plastic materials will be introduced that make single-layer bottles with a barrier layer inside - making single-layer preforms the ultimate winner.
Netstal enjoyed a record year in 2000, as the company shipped 1,286 machines. But Netstal has suffered from the slowdown in industrial equipment sales.
Merki said 2002 sales were $235 million, a 17 percent decline from 2001. Still, he said that Netstal remains profitable. In what he called a ``clear, simple strategy,'' the company remains focused only on injection molding, specializing in fast-cycling, thin-wall molding and technical parts.
``Packaging, PET and optical discs are really more stable than other businesses,'' Merki said. ``We really are in a top position today.''
Answering reporters' questions, Merki also disclosed that Netstal is working on a standard all-electric machine, in clamping forces from 50-175 tons. The company hopes to introduce the machine at the K'04 show next year.
Merki said the as-yet-unnamed machine will be targeted to high-precision technical parts. He said officials do not plan to use the Synergy name for the new all-electric press.
Netstal's U.S. operation, Netstal Machinery Inc. is in Devens, Mass.
Netstal is part of Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG.