Spirex Corp. focused on three themes at NPE 2003: an easier-to-use version of its Optimizer to figure payback on an application-specific screw; Twinshot coinjection molding technology; and a new partnership with a Texas company that will do laser-alignment of extruder barrels and screws.
The Spirex Optimizer shows how a new screw, barrel or nonreturn valve from Spirex can save money by improving efficiency. But until now, it was largely a tool for the Spirex sales staff to use out on calls.
``We're making it a lot more interactive for customers,'' said President Paul T. Colby.
The Optimizer walks the user through each specific application, asking for information on the screw size, resin used, parts weight and processing information. Results are shown for before and after the new screw. The system also takes into account things like cycle-time improvement, the dollar amount saved by reducing scrap and longer wear of the screw. The system even takes into account machine and operator costs.
``We look at the recovery rate, the entire cycle time and the resin processed, and figure ideal cycle time,'' Colby said.
At a potential savings of thousands of dollars a month, Colby said, the return on investment can be dramatically fast. ``The screw price can be basically insignificant,'' he said.
Like other screw makers, Spirex has seen good demand for customized screws targeted to specific types of molding jobs and resins.
``We make probably 40 percent or less standard types of screws. Sixty percent of screws that we make are high-output screws, a special type of mixing screw,'' Colby said in an interview before NPE at Nypro's Youngstown, Ohio, headquarters. Those same percentages apply to barrels and nonreturn valves.
The CD-ROM includes a few other goodies, such as a catalog of Spirex products and services, a library and a Twinshot calculator, which shows how coinjection molding can reduce part weight. Like the Optimizer, the system calculates return on investment in Twinshot vs. a solid, one-material part.
Spirex is the exclusive worldwide manufacturer of Twinshot injection molding technology. It uses a special two-stage screw, with a design similar to a vented barrel, running through a traditional barrel. First, the core resin is injected into the mold, followed by the skin material, which enters the outside, flighted part of the screw. The injection press is equipped with two hoppers for the two materials.
The CD-ROM includes animation that shows how Twinshot works. NPE-goers had plenty of chances to see Twinshot in action:
* At Spirex's own booth, the company ran Twinshot on a 60-ton Engel North America machine to mold a spatula.
* Van Dorn Demag Corp., now Demag Plastics Group, used Twinshot on a 160-ton IntElect all-electric press to mold a flying disk with a soft-touch surface and a hard core.
* Negri-Bossi Inc. ran a Twinshot-molded, four-cavity hanger.
For extrusion, Spirex announced a laser-alignment program at NPE through an international partnership with Maverick Systems Corp. of Hurst, Texas. A Maverick team was at NPE to demonstrate the lasers.
For Spirex customers, Maverick will align the extruder barrel and screw, at a zero tolerance from the gearbox to the end of the machine, said Shelly Haffly, senior vice president of new business development.
Maverick also can use the laser system to align the machine base to the barrel and screw. The result is increased throughput, better melt quality and longer-lasting gearboxes, Colby said.
Maverick's background involves laser alignment of machine tools.
In other news, Spirex is beefing up its technical center at its Youngstown headquarters to show more Twinshot-capable presses and add auxiliary equipment. Currently, the lab has a 180-ton Toshiba. New machines include a 220-ton Van Dorn and a 60-ton Engel. Conair Group is supplying materials-handling equipment for the Spirex process lab.
Spirex also continues to expand its global reach. At the M-Plas 2003 trade show in Malaysia in April, Spirex and Enge Plas Automation Sdn Bhd, its representative in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, announced they are setting up Spirex's first testing lab in Southeast Asia. It will include a Twinshot machine.
This year, Spirex is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Colby declined to give sales, but he said sales increased 10 percent from 2001-02. This year sales are growing at more than 10 percent. One trend is that screw sales for larger injection presses have outpaced smaller machines. ``It's been that way for a good nine months to a year now,'' Colby said in mid-May.