With K 2004 fast approaching, SMS Plastics Technology is ready to roll out the latest version of its all-electric press, the Battenfeld EM, with an unusual twist - some major components are made by a competitor, Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH.
The news, announced by SMS Oct. 5, sounds like the plastics machinery version of Coke making soda for Pepsi. But SMS spokeswoman Ingrid Bergmann said the cooperation is worth trying as Battenfeld works to reduce costs on its EM injection press.
``It's not a `Milacron' machine,'' she said. ``It's really a machine from both companies.''
SMS, based in Meinerzhagen, Germany, issued a news release about the new EM and the arrangement with Milacron. SMS said the EM uses ``the best machine components'' from both companies to lower the price and boost performance, but did not give many details.
So what components are coming from Ferromatik Milacron? Bergmann said Ferromatik is providing ``some important components,'' but she declined to get specific. The EM press has a Battenfeld controller, she said.
Ferromatik Milacron, based in Malterdingen, Germany, is part of Cincinnati-based Milacron Inc. Milacron has not confirmed its relationship with Battenfeld. A U.S. spokesman for Milacron said the company will give out some details at its own K show news conference.
The K show runs Oct. 20-27 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Bergmann said this type of arrangement happens all the time in the automotive industry. ``It's unusual [for plastics machinery], but why shouldn't we try this?'' she said.
Battenfeld has been manufacturing all-electric machines since 1992, making the company one of the leading German advocates of the technology, which replaces hydraulic power with electric motors. At the last K show, in 2001, the company touted the lower-price aspect of its EM, which then was billed as a new-generation all-electric.
``Frankly, this was quite a good machine. But it was too expensive,'' Bergmann said.
So now, thanks to the supply relationship with Ferromatik Milacron, the price has been reduced again, although Battenfeld has declined to give any exact numbers.
In the news release, Battenfeld said the original EM faced ``high costs'' that ``had to be lowered in the interest of future sales success'' to molders facing strong global competition.
Battenfeld also has extended the EM series downward, with a smaller machine. EM presses now are available in clamping forces of 33-198 tons.