NÃFELS, SWITZERLAND (Aug. 30, 9 a.m. EDT) — Netstal-Maschinen AG jumped into the world of all-electric injection presses in 2001, at the last K show, showing its e-Jet for making optical discs. This October in Dusseldorf, meet Elion — Netstal's all-electric for standard molding applications.
Initially, Netstal will offer Elion presses in four sizes of clamping force: 55, 88, 132 and 192 tons. The Swiss company is targeting “technically demanding” parts such as medical, electrical and automotive.
For clean-room molding, the Elion features oil-free lubrication of its five-point toggle mechanism and the oil-free, low-wear linear guides for the moving platen. Water-cooled electric motors mean the press operates with very low levels of noise and heat.
The fast-cycling machine also has a compact design, taking up the minimal amount of floor space. Each axis is closed-loop controlled, with parallel movements of the machine functions.
On the injection unit, a common, integrated gearbox combines transmission for both the injection and plasticizing functions. The customer can choose between three metering drive choices: torque, speed and power; and from injection speeds of 250 or 450 milli-meters per second. Also, a long screw length gives a high plasticizing capacity and good melt quality. Balanced nozzle contact force comes from a central joint that applies force symmetrically.
The drive for part ejectors is based on the servomotor, with a planetary gear and three-point crank drive on needle bearings. For auxiliary mold functions, such as core-pulls, Netstal has built a special unit integrated into the press — not an add-on core pull unit, as in competing machines.
Officials stress that Netstal is a “greenfield” all-electric; the firm did not merely electrify its standard machine components. Instead it developed the ideal drive and transmission solution for each individual axis, said Thomas Robers, general manager for marketing, sales and application technology.
For example, Netstal designed a new five-point toggle lever, which converts the rotational movement of the electric motor into back and forth movement of the platen. Engineers took advantage of the fact that individual elements of the toggle lever perform turning motions, and connected the driving lever to the mechanism. That means the drive gets advantages of the toggle: high moving speed, and high forces in the end position.
The Elion comes equipped with Netstal's DSP and Sycap controller
At K 2004, Netstal will show three Elions:
* A 132-ton press will mold a cell-phone housing from an ABS/polycarbonate blend.
* An 88-ton Elion will mold a polystyrene needle molder, in a medical application that requires a high degree of reproducibility to enable downstream assembly.
* A 55-ton Elion will mold a connector from polybutylene tereph-thalate.
Netstal also has planned for its K-show booth:
* A PET-Line molding preforms for a half-liter PET bottle on a 96-cavity mold, running on a 9.6-second cycle. The output is 36,000 preforms per hour. Netstal said that for the first time, the mold will be equipped with a hydraulic actuation of the slide splits, giving high production and good release of thread section of these short preforms. The company's complete PET line runs from 24-144 cavities.
* A SynErgy injection press, running a 96-cavity mold, making high density polyethylene bottle closures. Cycle time is 4.2 seconds. Every one of the 82,000 parts molded each hour will pass through a testing station immediately after molding.
* Two-component molding on a SynErgy 2C press making housings from polypropylene and thermoplastic rubber. The four-by-four mold will run a 22-second cycle.
Netstal previewed its K show news during a news conference June 25 at company headquarters in NÃ¤fels, Switzerland.
Netstal has held its own in the difficult global machinery market, according to Bernhard Merki, president and chief executive officer. Merki credited the strategy of premium machines that do fast-cycle molding of thin-wall parts and other demanding applications such as in-mold labeling.
Merki said Netstal generated net sales of 321.8 Swiss francs ($233 million) in fiscal 2003, a 4.6 percent increase from 307.7 million Swiss francs in 2002. Netstal's fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Profit shot up 47 percent, to 17.8 million Swiss francs ($13 million), from 12.1 million francs in 2002.
Europe accounted for about two-thirds of Netstal's business. North and South America generated 17 percent, while 13 percent came from Asia and 4 percent was from Africa, Australia and the Middle East.
Netstal invested $4 million in buildings and equipment in 2003. Beyond that, Merki said, the company spent about 5 percent of sales on research and development. As previously reported, Netstal also plans to expand its sales office in China into a full subsidiary this year.
The solid financial picture enabled Netstal to add 30 jobs, bringing its total workforce to 850 people.
Merki also laid out some global market share numbers. Netstal has a 25 percent market share in machines to mold optical discs, which includes compact discs and digital versatile discs, he said.
In presses for molding PET preforms, Netstal claims a No. 2 position with a 20 percent market share. No. 1 player Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. claims it has about 75 percent of the global preform press market.