A big PET preform war was brewing in McCormick Place South - with the emphasis on BIG - as Netstal-Maschinen AG ran a 192-cavity preform press and, just a few aisles over, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. displayed a preform mold with 216 cavities.
Netstal and Husky are intense rivals in high-speed packaging machines and PET preform molding. Both companies claimed trade-show firsts for PET preforms at NPE 2006 in Chicago.
For Netstal, this NPE marked the first time a preform press with 192 cavities was shown at a trade show. Netstal officials announced at the last K show in Germany that the company had built a 192-cavity preform machine, but they did not show it, opting to display a smaller one with 96 cavities.
Husky said the 216-cavity preform mold is the world's largest. Husky remains the largest player in preform machines, industry observers say.
Officials of both companies used diplomatic language to discuss the other side.
Aside from pointing out the obvious - that Netstal's mold ran preforms while Husky's sat on the floor - top Netstal executive Bernhard Merki said it's nothing personal, just business.
``A lot of customers are looking for a second supplier, and we have signals from the market that they are ready now to do that step. They have seen our technology. It's in place and running,'' Merki said. The floor shook as the PET-Line press, with 660 tons of clamping force, molded preforms at a rate of more than 90,000 an hour. A big Conair silo fed resin to the beast, which ran four hours a day at the show. The press ran preforms on a 7.4-second cycle.
Netstal has sold one of its 192-cavity presses to Berkshire Bottling Works in Reading, Pa.
Husky also has a customer for its 216-cavity mold: Amcor PET Packaging. Husky officials said they jointly developed the mold with Amcor of Ann Arbor, Mich., and the mold will be going to one of Amcor's U.S. plants.
They declined to disclose the location.
Mike Diletti, vice president of sales and marketing, cited the 216-cavity mold as an example of Husky's strategy to ``go deep'' with key customers and help them improve their efficiency. The giant mold is designed to run on a 715-ton Husky HyPET injection press.
Was the 216-cavity preform mold on display an attempt to one-up Netstal? Diletti said Amcor looked at all options of cavitation, including Husky's Index preform press, with the revolving mold.
``The customer of this mold evaluated all those cavitations for their new molding project and chose the 216,'' Diletti said.
So leaders of both machinery makers are just giving the customers what they want - and watching each other closely.