Speed was the theme of Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. at NPE 2006 - what Husky said is record-setting speed in thin-wall molding, in-mold labeling and PET preforms.
``It's absolutely essential that we continue to innovate,'' said Mike Diletti, vice president of sales and marketing.
The reason, he said, is increasing commoditization of plastics machinery and a more crowded market for some of Husky's areas of strength, like packaging.
``We have pressure caused by new entrants in the field. Many of our competitors also are focusing on technology in our core markets,'' Diletti said at NPE 2006, held June 19-23 in Chicago.
One new technology Husky exhibited was a HyPAC press with 300 tons of clamping force, whipping out deli tubs eight at a time on a 3.6-second cycle. It featured a two-by-four stack mold.
On the injection side, Husky has borrowed from its magnesium molding technology to use hydraulic accumulators to blast the melt into the mold.
The HyPAC press has electric screw rotation, but with a twist - Husky designed the motor to wrap around the screw, instead of the standard setup behind it, said Bruce Catoen, vice president of packaging. That means the motor has much less inertia so it can hit high screw speeds instantly.
``To us, this is the show stopper,'' Catoen said. ``We think this will change how people mold thin-wall parts.''
Another feature is the new hot-runner system, called UP for ultra packaging. The hot runner is designed to manage injection speed, sheer and pressure, and give uniform temperature for even filling.
Husky said the HyPAC machine boosts throughput by 30 percent and has more than twice the melt acceleration, so it allows molders to cut part weight by 10 percent.
A side-entry CBW robot zoomed in and out to remove the tubs.
NPE was not all about speed for Husky. Size was important too. A monster, 216-cavity PET preform mold was at the firm's stand.
The world's largest preform mold went to a U.S. plant of Amcor PET Packaging, although Husky wouldn't disclose the location. Amcor PET Packaging is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Husky also demonstrated in-mold labeling of containers at less than a 2½-second cycle on a 120-ton Hylectric press. Husky's Swing Chutes rotate into position as the mold opens to place labels into the mold and grab the molded parts. The label covers all five sides. A side-entry robot requires the clamp to reach the open position before it enters the molding area, increasing cycle by at least 0.4 second, Husky said. It said the IML press is about 30 percent faster than the one it ran at K 2004 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Husky also showed some ever-faster technology to mold PET preforms, including a HyPET press running a 72-cavity mold, at a 6½-second cycle for a 14.5-gram preform for a half-liter water bottle.
Husky said the preform would have required an 8½-second cycle a few years ago - marking a 25 percent improvement.
The company is emphasizing its ability to design and manufacture hot runners and preforms, which officials said are important factors in continuing to get faster.
``Because of the complex interaction between machine, robot, hot runner and mold, it is only possible to achieve the fastest cycle times if all these pieces are designed together as a system,'' said Mike Urquhart, vice president of PET systems.
Husky announced it shipped to an unidentified U.S. customer a HyPET press with a 144-cavity mold that made 20-ounce soft drink preforms on a 10½-second cycle. Husky claims that is an industry-best cycle time.
Husky also molded 1,500 closures a minute on a Hylectric press running a 72-cavity mold.