Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these news briefs at several trade shows held Jan. 6-8 in Anaheim, Calif.
Wittmann's PartTrack now offered in U.S.
Wittmann Inc. of Torrington, Conn., has formed a sales and service subsidiary in the Czech Republic and is supplying its PartTrack technology in the United States.
The auxiliary equipment supplier established the new unit, Wittmann CZ spol. Sro, in Pisek, 60 miles south of Prague.
Wittmann started selling PartTrack in the United States in January after providing technology in Europe for one year and showing it at NPE in June, said Todd Rains, national sales manager.
The company offers PartTrack with its 6.0 and 6.2 controllers for top-entry robots. PartTrack can synchronize operations between a robot and parts on a conveyor or during mold opening. PartTrack can peel a thermoformed part from its web or place injected molded parts on a paint conveyor. It can cut cycle times up to 15 percent.
Separately, for a customer, Wittmann designed and installed a battery of specialized materials-handling and drying equipment offering individual drying control for multiple resins or color additives.
The installation involved two separate vacuum lines, 18 molding machines and 12 drying hoppers. Another system involved three vacuum lines, 60 vacuum loaders, 27 material sources and a coded coupling station, all linked with a Wittmann M7 network control system.
Flambeau to shift presses among sites
Baraboo, Wis.-based Flambeau Inc. is finding solid growth opportunities across many parts of its business, said Dave Schoell, vice president of the industrial and commercial markets group.
``Automotive, industrial and packaging are seeing good growth in the current atmosphere,'' Schoell said. ``Utilization could be better than it is, but we foresee that getting better with the market conditions.''
Flambeau may buy some blow molding equipment and relocate injection molding presses among its sites, Schoell said.
Perhaps a dozen small presses are in an inactive, 70,000-square-foot micromolding plant in Sun Prairie, Wis. Flambeau shut down the facility in late 2001 as the plant's main customer, Motorola Inc., moved wireless telephone production to China.
Eleven divisions of Flambeau employ about 3,000 and operate as part of the Nordic Group of Cos. Ltd. of Baraboo.
Flambeau has eight manufacturing facilities in six states, Mexico and England. It has more than 110 blow molding machines with shot sizes of 1-50 pounds and more than 140 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 24-1,500 tons.
Sud-Chemie boosts canister production
The Sud-Chemie Performance Packaging has invested millions of dollars during three years to increase production of polyethylene and polypropylene desiccant canisters. Capacity has grown by about 30 percent, to more than 1 billion canisters per year from two facilities in the United States, two in France and one in Australia.
Most of the investment was at the Belen, N.M., facility and involved electronic check weighers, high-technology vision inspection systems and injection mold improvements. The other U.S. plant is in Colton, Calif.
In a related initiative, by the end of March, the Belen operation will launch a new absorbing canister that will protect pharmaceutical products from oxygen degradation.
Sud-Chemie Group is based in Munich, Germany.
Companies team up for online analysis
Facts Inc. of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and Equitech International Corp. of New Ellenton, S.C., are collaborating to bring extrusion analysis processes online.
The technology can save time spent waiting for sampling and off-line laboratory reports, and reduces scrap and the use of color additives, according to Al Hodge, Facts' director of marketing and sales. Two systems were introduced in Anaheim.
The core Equitech spectrometer, multiplexer and noncontact fiber-optic probe technology has been used in chemical and pharmaceutical industries since 1997. Equitech's equipment measures color in an extruded product and measures layer thickness, Hodge said. Facts' integrated extrusion process-control technology analyzes the data. Both systems operate in real time, and each analyzer, available with different probes, costs about $39,000.
The color analyzer has particular application for production of vinyl, floor and wall coverings, decorative laminates and reinforced fibers and textiles. The thickness analyzer captures data from points across a moving web, a white light is sent through an optical fiber to a probe and scattered light is returned for analysis, said Patrick O'Rourke, Equitech chief scientist.
Facts, an acronym for Factory Automation Control Technical Services, was formed in 1992 and employs 30. Equitech employs nine.
Calif. firms, school form county alliance
About 16 plastics processors, mold makers and product developers, along with university representatives, have formed the Butte County Plastics Alliance in northern California. The alliance has arranged a Jan. 23 open house at the Chico campus of California State University.
Alliance members include film extruder and converter Roplast Industries Inc. of Oroville; Chico-based Fafco Inc., which makes polyolefin heat exchangers for solar heating and thermal energy storage; the Chico facility of TFI Corp., a maker of solid-surface vanity tops and lavatory sinks; injection molder Wrex Products Inc. of Chico; mold maker Quality Craft Molds Inc. of Magalia; short-run molder Plastic Molding Shop of Oroville; and product creator Development Technologies of Paradise.
Airlite Plastics adds own in-mold labeling
Airlite Plastics Co. - the Omaha, Neb., molder visited May 12 by President Bush - has entered in-mold labeling.
``We are committed to that business in lids and containers'' as an improvement on traditional offset printing, said Rod Brown, Airlite national accounts manager. ``We started with lenticular [three-dimensional] molds for promotional drink cups'' and have begun work on several food-packaging-related projects.
Employing 600, Airlite injection molds thin-wall packaging and shape molds expanded polystyrene.
Mocap buys its first injection machines
St. Louis-based Mocap Inc. has added plastic injection molding capabilities in a Farmington, Mo., plant and changed the division's name to Mocap Custom Molding Group from Mocap Rubber Products Group.
The division bought two Krauss- Maffei machines, one each with 80 and 120 tons of clamping force, in part to provide sealed bottoms and polypropylene plugs for another Mocap division, Cleartec Packaging in St. Louis.
The company previously outsourced that work, said Robert Van Camp, sales manager for the custom molding group. ``The initial thrust was to bring those components in-house,'' and now the firm wants to supply thermoplastic components for ``virtually any market.''
KlÃ¶ckner Pentaplast displays shrink films
KlÃ¶ckner Pentaplast of America Inc. of Gordonsville, Va., debuted a vinyl frosty-matte label film for full-body shrink-sleeve applications in its Pentaprint product line. KlÃ¶ckner also displayed its recently introduced, glycol-modified PET films for shrink-sleeve labels, bottle-cap seals, tamper-evident bands and multipacks.
The films provide printers and converters with additional processing options and some gauge reductions, said Jim Mullen, KlÃ¶ckner business manager for shrink-sleeve films. ``Because of innovation with new equipment, we have been able to add new features onto the products via process or formulation.'' In 2002, KlÃ¶ckner doubled capacity at its Rural Retreat, Va., plant for transverse-direction-oriented films.
Also at its exhibit, KlÃ¶ckner showed its line of Barex acrylonitrile copolymer thin film for packaging, a Pentaform 282-21 vinyl film for cosmetic packaging and anti-static versions of coated vinyl and PETG shrink-label films and high-impact polystyrene packaging film.
* Glen Shrigley joined El Dorado Molds Inc., an injection mold maker in Rancho Cordova, Calif., as vice president of operations. He was with Trend Technologies LLC and predecessor firms for 23 years, most recently as vice president of global molding. ... Tacoma, Wash.-based blow molder Premier Plastics Inc. is leasing more space for its Lathrop, Calif., operation. Premier is expanding to 160,000 square feet, from 134,000 square feet. Since 2001, Premier has added six machines and now operates a total of 22 for extrusion and injection stretch blow molding of plastic packaging and containers. ... Technical database supplier IDES Inc. of Laramie, Wyo., gave an early look at its Prospector X5 platform for injection molders to get material information free. X5 will be available in late January. ... Software integrator IQMS Inc. of Paso Robles, Calif., said its global client base grew more than 12 percent in 2003, adding more than 700 new licensed users. The firm does not disclose financial results, but said its sales increased 17 percent last year. ... The Dyna-Purge Division of Shuman Plastics Inc. in Depew, N.Y., introduced Dyna-Purge B, a compound for purging resins used in blow molding.