German molders finally may be ready to buy energy-efficient, all-electric presses, machinery executives said at K 2004 in Dusseldorf.
All-electric machines cost more than presses driven by hydraulic fluid, but they consume less energy. Other benefits are quiet, clean operation, and highly repeatable molding.
It comes down to euros and cents. A European energy consortium has driven a consolidation in energy providers. In Germany, there now are only five major electricity suppliers. Reduced competition has led to step-by-step increases in the price of electric power, which had been fairly cheap before.
``Now the prices are going up, because the small electric producers were put out of business,'' said Michael Kerber, sales manager for Mitsui Machine Tool Europe GmbH, the sole distributor in Europe for all-electric Roboshot presses from Fanuc Ltd.
Fanuc is the leader in all-electric presses in Europe, capturing 75 percent of the market after 20 years of selling there. Official statistics do not exist, but Kerber estimates all-electric presses account for only 3-5 percent of all injection molding machines sold in Germany - a total of 1,000 Fanucs sold to Germany since 1984.
In the United States, all-electrics account for about 25 percent of all sales. The technology has reached close to 80 percent of the market in Japan.
Nearly all European machinery makers now offer an all-electric press. Most of them got into all-electrics in recent years. Kerber wryly noted the European machines ``validate'' the all-electric process in the minds of German molders.
Fanuc has some unique technology, including its plasticizing control called the AI, for artificial intelligence, Kerber said.
At K 2004, which ran Oct. 20-27, Mitsui Machine Tool Europe of Neuss, Germany, was showing a 110-ton Fanuc all-electric press boasting an injection speed of 32 inches per second, and a tiny, 5-ton machine for micromolding.
The exhibition marked the fifth K show that Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH has shown all-electric machines, built in Malterdingen, Germany. ``It's clear that the market is now ready to buy this technology on a large scale. The time where people just wanted to `try it out' seems to be over for good,'' said Robert Burzler, sales manager for Germany. ``Before they were looking. Now they are buying.''
Ferromatik Milacron was promoting new multicomponent molding capability and micromolding on its Elektra Evolution presses.
A unit of Cincinnati-based Milacron Inc., Ferromatik Milacron said overall sales were up 25 percent over the last K show, in 2001.