Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH hit record sales last year, and company leaders are expecting a repeat for the global maker of injection presses, extruders and polyurethane equipment in fiscal 2005.
In the U.S. market, the new MX large-tonnage, two-platen press is selling briskly, officials said at the Plastics Technology Conference, held May 18-19 at Krauss-Maffei Corp. in Florence.
Josef MÃ¤rtl, chairman of the managing board at Krauss-Maffei in Munich, Germany, and Paul Caprio, executive vice president of the injection molding division for KM's U.S. unit, discussed the company's first-half results in an interview.
As part of equipment conglomerate Mannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH, Krauss-Maffei's fiscal year runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30. In fiscal 2004, KM generated record sales of 538 million euros ($651 million) as all three equipment segments had higher sales than the year before.
KM issued a news release in April saying that, through the first half of fiscal 2005, ``it is quite realistic'' to repeat that sales level. For the first half - ended March 31 - sales totaled about 275 million euros ($358 million), down slightly from 283 million euros in the first half of last year.
The company does not release net profit figures, but MÃ¤rtl said Krauss-Maffei is profitable.
Globally, sales increases in extrusion and reaction injection molding offset a 13 percent sales decline for injection molding presses, the company reported.
But new orders for injection presses, at around 200 million euros ($260 million) for the six-month period, are on par with the high levels of the year before. Companywide, Krauss-Maffei received more orders for small and midtonnage presses from the packaging, medical and consumer-goods industries.
Globally, the automotive market placed slightly fewer orders for large-tonnage KM machines, the company said.
Caprio said the large-tonnage MX machines have sold well in the United States for automotive and packaging, since KM introduced the line at K 2004.
``We put that into packaging, because they're high-speed machines,'' Caprio said.
Packaging continues to be Krauss-Maffei's strongest U.S. market, he said.
In Florence, visitors saw a 1,045-ton MX molding a polypropylene automotive A-pillar.
Caprio said Krauss-Maffei sold a 1,300-ton MX during the conference, but he could not identify the customer.
Caprio said Krauss-Maffei has increased its U.S. injection press sales this year ``substantially better than the [overall] market growth.''
Krauss-Maffei's Plastics Technology Conference drew more than 600 people to the company's Florence facility to hear technical presentations and see the wares of 69 exhibitors.
According to MÃ¤rtl, KM's strength is that it is not locked into one type of plastic manufacturing process.
``It doesn't matter, is it injection molding, extrusion or is it RIM - or is it a combination?'' he said.
Caprio said U.S. molders also are buying multishot machines. At the conference, KM was running parts on the new direct-drive electric press, the EX.
A 165-ton EX, equipped with a vertical bolt-on second injection unit, ran a two-component cell phone housing.
An 88-ton EX molded medical pipettes. The three-platen EX uses a revolving mechanism dubbed a Z-lever system to transmit power, with a speed-reduction gear connected to the moving and stationary platen.
Krauss-Maffei also molded a dairy tub on a 660-ton CS Sprinter press with an eight-by-eight stack mold, running a 4½-second cycle.
The press showed off the new HPX plasticizing unit, designed for thin-wall packaging.
A side-entry robot from CBW Automation removed the parts and dropped them onto a conveyor.
In Florence, Krauss-Maffei employs 170. The U.S. operation generates about $150 million of sales from injection presses, extruders and RIM.