Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH set a sales record in fiscal 2004 - 535 million euros ($651 million) - as the injection molding, extrusion and polyurethane machinery segments all showed gains from the year before.
In technology news, Krauss-Maffei introduced a direct-drive electric injection press, the MX large-tonnage press and the smaller CX series of machines. The company showed its ability to combine two processes, demonstrating in-line compounding into an injection press, and polyurethane and injection molding in a single machine.
KM's sales surpassed the last record year of 2000, when the Munich, Germany-based equipment maker posted sales of 506 million euros, said Josef MÃ¤rtl, chairman of the Krauss-Maffei managing board, at a K 2004 show news conference Oct. 21.
KM's fiscal year ended Sept. 30. KM is part of Mannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH.
Press sales for 2004 surged to 394 million euros ($479 million), up 16 percent from the year before. Reaction injection molding machines also increased 16 percent, to 72 million euros ($88 million). Extruder sales totaled 72 million euros ($88 million), up 4 percent.
At K 2004, Krauss-Maffei debuted a direct-drive electric press called the EX, a change from the Eltec the company rolled out at K 2001.
Passersby saw one change immediately - an odd-looking toggle based on a revolving mechanism with what KM calls a ``Z-lever'' system. Movements are generated by a speed-reduction gear, which is connected to both the moving and stationary platen.
``Our aim was not to use a standard toggle. It's something totally new,'' said Herbert Pickel, senior vice president of research and development.
Because Krauss-Maffei's core technology has been hydraulic and hydromechanical machines, and not toggles, its engineers were able to start from scratch. ``We were free to optimize our toggle,'' Pickel said. The toggle is fast and smooth, the company said.
A big advantage is the new toggle clamp has only eight bushings, and it's completely sealed so no lubricating grease can leak out. At K, an EX with 88 tons of clamping force molded a polypropylene protector for a needle, a clean-room application.
``Standard toggles are not clean. They normally have a lot of grease,'' Pickel said. ``So we said it had to be simple, precise and clean.''
The EX has the traditional three platens, not the two-platen design of the Eltec. Three servo-electric motors power the EX, one to move the toggle clamp and two motors on the injection unit.
Krauss-Maffei will continue to offer the Eltec for customers that prefer a two-platen press. But Pickel thinks many customers will stitch to the EX. which is less expensive.
EX presses come in clamping forces up to 176 tons.
* Teamed up reaction injection molding of polyurethane and straight injection molding to make a part on the floor of the car that holds the buckle of a seatbelt. An injection press was molding the nylon preform, and then - in the same mold - the part is encapsulated with a PUR skin. Wolfgang Frehsdorf, technical manager, said polyurethane can create cushioned, soft sections and areas that are more rigid, on the same part.
* In another cross-processing demonstration, Krauss-Maffei found a groundbreaking way to introduce its large two-platen MX range, which replaces the MC. In Dusseldorf, Krauss-Maffei paired a 1,045-ton MX injection press with a compounding extruder from sister company Berstorff GmbH on an injection molding compounder, or IMC. Officials said it marked the first time one of the massive IMCs was shown molding parts at a trade show.
Glass rovings were fed from spools directly into the extruder, which sat piggyback on top of the injection press. The melt was moved into a shot-pot injection unit, then the MX injected into the mold.
For the MX, Krauss-Maffei has moved the locking and clamping buildup to the moving side. (The old MC used had the locking mechanism on the fixed platen). Tie bars now remain in a fixed position, cutting down the amount of weight that is moving.
* Showed three machines from its new CX series of two-platen hydraulic presses. The modular CX presses, which will be phased in to replace the old C series, enable the company to offer lots of standard features and options - better targeting each press to specific molding applications. A new hydraulic system reduces cycle times.
* Displayed its bolt-on injection units to turn a standard press into a two-shot machine.
* Rolled out the MC 5 controller to replace the MC 4. Graphic functions have increased, with easy-to-use displays. The MC 5 is standard on injection presses in the CX and MX range.
* Announced a new, automated way to make golf balls using RIM and injection molding. Goodbye little rubber bands wound around a core! Under the KM technology thermoplastic cores are inserted into a mold with three sections, where they are encapsulated by two half-shells of PUR. The novel design enables the core to be retained precisely in the center. Robots place the cores and remove the balls.
* Introduced six ranges of PUR mix heads. One mixes the color inside the mix head, as opposed to the old way of blending it into the polyol component beforehand. That means only the amount of blend ready to be molded will be colored. Another six-component mix head allows the operator to select components of flexible-foam blends, for quick changeovers between foams of different density and size. Another head runs natural fibers such as flax or hemp.
In extrusion news, the company:
* Exhibited a twin-screw extruder for profiles, the KMD90-32/P, with screws that have a 32-1 length-to-diameter ratio. That gives a wide processing latitude, a high level of melt homogeneity and a low wear-rate. KM has boosted the screw torque and enlarged the pre-warming section.
* Showed a die head for running multilayer pipe, with up to three layers. Uniform melt distribution across the die orifice section is ensured by three concentrically intermeshing spirals.
* Displayed its QuickSwitch technology that allows the operator to change pipe diameter during production runs.