Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar gathered these news items at Plastics Encounter Midwest, which drew 1,232 people to Indianapolis - 871 attendees and 361 exhibitor personnel. The May 24-26 show, sponsored by PN, had 94 exhibitors representing 132 companies, and had numerous visitors from the AmCon American Contract Manufacturers Show, which was collocated at the convention center.
Milacron's spotlight on vertical molding
Milacron Inc. delivered a simple message: Vertical insert molding presses are back.
The company focused on vertical presses at the show because Indiana has lots of insert molders, and that sector is picking up, said marketing director Robert Strickley. Milacron bought Autojectors Inc., an Indiana-based maker of vertical machines, in 1998.
``There's been a sizeable uptick in sales of vertical technology,'' Strickley said at the show. ``After several years of being flat, it's coming back.''
New injection press offerings are fueling the sales. Strickley also noted some recent evidence that some insert molding jobs have returned to U.S. molders after moving to China, although he said: ``We can't say it's a trend yet.''
All the molded parts displayed at Milacron's booth were made by insert molding - like filters, automotive ignition components and terminals for electronics.
Tony Marchelletta, Milacron's director of vertical presses, said insert molding offers a fast, relatively inexpensive way to make the parts.
The company's Cincinnati Milacron Magna V presses have a C-frame design for open access to the molding area. The presses come in clamping forces of 30-280 tons, with injection unit sizes of 0.7 ounce to 54 ounces.
Multicomponent and vertical clamp/vertical injection configurations are available, Marchelletta said.
Milacron sold its show-floor machine, a 50-ton Magna V50-R rotary-table press. The company also sold a 50-ton Roboshot all-electric press at the show, Strickley said. He declined to identify the customer for either machine.
Insul-Vest introduces radiant barrel heater
Insul-Vest Inc., which makes insulating vests that slip over the barrels of injection presses, extruders or blow molding machines, introduced a new radiant barrel heater made from sections of ceramic fiber insulation.
The Rex TCS, made by licensee Rex Materials Inc., also can cool the barrel via direct-air cooling.
``We can heat, cool and insulate all in one unit,'' said John Pendergraft, vice president of Insul-Vest.
TCS stands for temperature control system. James Schweinsburg, vice president of Rex Materials, said the TCS is designed to replace band heaters. Rex Materials has 20 years of experience manufacturing ceramic fiber heaters.
Insul-Vest of Mulvane, Kan., spent four years developing the new way to heat and cool the barrel. Insul-Vest built handmade models to prove that the radiant-heating concept works, Pendergraft said.
Rex Materials Group of Fowlerville, Mich., got involved in the past two years and manufactures the Tex TCS. Insul-Vest still makes its original vests.
Using radiant heat instead of traditional conductive heat is the key innovation for the TCS, Schweinsburg said. With radiant heat, all the energy immediately goes into the barrel. Rex Materials claims the product has 55 percent faster heat-up time and as much as 70 percent energy savings over traditional barrel heaters.
Heating sections are strapped together with Velcro, so a section can be removed easily. Heating-element wires run lengthwise inside the ceramic fiber-shape sections.
For faster cooling, the Rex TCS draws ambient air directly across the barrel.
During barrel heating, the hot air can be vented into the plant to cut heating bills. In the summer, the air can be exhausted outdoors.
Conair's Trueblend comes in 8 models
The TrueBlend gravimetric batch blender from Conair Group Inc. keeps pellets where they belong - in the blender, not all over the floor.
Conair displayed four of its new TruBlends at Plastics Encounter Midwest. Conair worked to share blender technology with a German auxiliary maker, whose U.S. operation, Motan Inc., also exhibited in Indianapolis. TrueBlend comes in eight models, with throughput sizes of 100-3,500 pounds an hour.
Later this year, Conair plans to introduce higher-throughput models, which blend more than 6,000 pounds an hour.
Gary Hovis, commercial manager for blenders, said Conair talked to customers, who said leaking from blenders wastes expensive material, can pose a safety hazard and takes time to clean up. ``Our customers tell us this is an annoying and costly problem and they want it eliminated,'' Hovis said.
Conair designed the TrueBlend with a fully self-contained weighing and mixing section, enclosed in a powder coated steel cabinet. The mixing chamber design and a removable cover plate prevent even fines and dust from escaping. When the full-length access door is closed, all material is contained.
Other features include, in each material compartment, double-acting, non-stick vertical dispense valves that are pneumatically driven for both opening and closing. Conair said material can hang up on competing horizontal slide valves. Also, single-acting vertical valves depend on a spring return to get them closed.
Each dispense valve closes into a cone-shaped seat, so the valve is self-centering. The plunger/ valve seat combination can be changed to create smaller opening diameters, so the proper valve size can be matched to materials being blended.
Conair also designed TrueBlend for easy troubleshooting through a door in the back of the unit.
The touchscreen controller is easy to use, displaying more information on one screen so technicians don't have to scroll through endless screens. Entries are password protected on three levels that gives the level of each category of personnel - operator, supervisor and management.
The controller also runs loaders that serve the blender. TrueBlend can be Ethernet-linked.
Conair assembles TrueBlend at its factory in Franklin, Pa.
Fisher distributing products from Frigel
Fisher Sales Corp., a manufacturers' representative in St. Charles, Ill., is distributing machine and mold cooling systems from Florence, Italy-based Frigel Firenze srl.
James Fisher, president of Fisher, said Frigel equipment works with injection, blow molding, extrusion, blown film and other types of processing machinery. Frigel's closed-loop system, which uses a series of piping and fans similar to a car radiator, is an alternative to cooling towers for central chilling.
Fisher said the technology is used in Europe, South America and Mexico, and is starting to gain in popularity in the United States. One key benefit is energy savings. When the air temperature outside the factory drops below the process temperature, the chilling system switches to ``free-cooling'' mode and uses the outside air for cooling.
Frigel also makes individual chillers and temperature controllers for use at each machine. A controller manages the system.
Reverse prototyping inspects first parts
CGI of Eden Prairie, Minn., now is a service bureau - so you can mail your first-article parts to CGI and the company will perform its work, which has been described as ``reverse rapid prototying.''
While rapid prototyping builds up model parts layer by layer, CGI makes and sells machines that slice plastic parts down into very thin layers, automatically scanning the data into a computer. The result is a digital image - ideal for measuring parts with a complex internal geometry. The technology is good for simultaneously checking multiple parts, such as those made in multicavity molds, said Craig Crump, chief executive officer.
The CGI system compares the digitized image, known as a three-dimensional point cloud, to the part's original computer-aided-design file.
Deviations are highlighted in color. Crump said CGI offers a free quote service on its Web site, www.cgiinspection.com.
ACS Group exhibits digital dosing system
ACS Group displayed the Colorblend M, a synchronized, digital dosing system for additives, either in pellet or powder form. Key features include a correctly sized dosing disc, combined with a special direct-current motor and easy-to-operate controls.
Cumberland Engineering, a unit of Wood Dale, Ill.-based ACS, showed its 1000 Series beside-the-press granulator, which integrates rotating end discs for low-heat granulation and reduced friction.