One of Europe's leading suppliers of mold temperature control systems is beefing up capacity to put contour cooling into molds, and is beginning to think hard about taking on the U.S. market.
GWK Gesellschaft WÃ¤rme KÃ¤ltetechnik mbH, in Kierspe, Germany, has carved out a name for itself supplying integrated temperature control systems. In early 2003, GWK bought the production arm of Innova Engineering GmbH, another German company that had developed technology for putting contour cooling into production molds.
The molds are cut into slices, channels are machined out close to the core and cavity surfaces, and then the slices are soldered back together.
The business, renamed GWK Tools, has been operating in an increasingly cramped, 6,000-square-foot space in Werl, Germany. Now it is moving into a new, 10,000-square-foot production area next door to GWK's main factory.
``It's important to integrate the technology and the people in Kierspe,'' said GWK Managing Director Helmut Griess, who shares that post with Reinhard Zeppenfeld. ``For me, it's one of the keys for the future of our company,'' Griess said in an interview at K 2004, held Oct. 20-27 in Dusseldorf.
``Many companies will build cheaper mold heaters than us. We can't just build heaters, we have to offer a complete system around the mold. It's the only way we are going to survive as a European producer. Otherwise, we'd have to pack up and move to China.''
GWK has further developed the Innova technology and also is applying it to larger molds. Griess says molders are still hesitant to invest in it. But he claims the extra cost for contour cooling often can be recouped in as little as two months.
The Innova technology not only enables better positioning of cooling channels, it achieves a total cooling channel surface typically three times as great as with traditional gun-drilling techniques, Griess said.
At K 2004, GWK also introduced a version of its Integrat centralized mold temperature control system, for operations smaller than those the original version targeted. The system handles temperatures up to 194° F rather than 284° F. The Integrat system, which goes on sale in April, makes use of Bluetooth technology to communicate with injection presses.
GWK's full offerings include chillers and cooling towers, water treatment systems, centrally controlled temperature systems, and individual controllers for budget-restricted molders. The firm also has a service for cleaning clogged-up mold cooling systems. Several major injection molding machine makers were running presses with GWK auxiliaries at K.
The company was co-owned by the Zeppenfeld and Jung families until a few months ago, when the Zeppenfelds acquired full ownership.