All-electric was the buzz phrase for blow molding machinery makers showcasing their wares at NPE 2006 in Chicago.
For Meccanoplastica srl, based in Florence, Italy, its all-electric injection blow molding machine is the firm's official foray into the North American market as it collaborates with tooling firm Big 3 Precision Products Inc. of Centralia, Ill., to get its foothold here.
``They have access to the whole customer base,'' said Jack McGarry, vice president of MBK/Blow Molding Machinery LLC of New Hope, Pa. ``We want to jointly grow this technology.''
At its booth, the company processed polypropylene bottles for the hotel amenities market. The 4-gram bottle ran on an eight-cavity production set up in a nine-second cycle to produce about 2,300 bottles per hour. The machine was moved to Big 3's service facility in Millville, N.J., after the show.
``This is a collaborative agreement where we both expect to see benefits,'' said Rolando Fantini, technical director for Meccanoplastica. ``We want to have the machines available for demonstration to customers without them having to travel to Italy.''
For Big 3, it's a way for the firm to provide turnkey operations to its North Americans, said Larry Barresi, vice president of operations for the Millville facility.
>From the processor side, all-electrics provide a way to beat rising energy costs.
``Our energy costs are incredible,'' said Steve Kostecki, vice president of Western operations for Paradigm Packaging of Carlstadt, N.J. ``This is a big new advance in injection blow molding. This is the main reason I came to the show.''
At Nissei ASB Machines Co. Ltd., officials were running PET mascara containers on its all-electric single-stage injection stretch blow molding machine which the company will make commercially available in a year.
``We feel that now is the time with higher market drive, and higher end-market competition,'' said Jamie Pace, manager of ASB's sales department. ``This is our technology platform to gauge market demand and desire.''
The machine uses 30 percent of the electricity that its hydraulic counterpart would consume. Officials said it offers stable molding, clean and low noise operation and is ideal for small-lot or mass production.
In other Nissei news, the company is refocusing its blow molding machine making operations in India and China to increase its market competitiveness.
The move means its facility in India will become a hub where it already has enjoyed a 50 percent increase in mold production capacity. Its small single-step blow molding machine components will be produced in India and moved to Shanghai for assembly.
Shanghai will continue as the production site for reheat blow molding machines. Its Japan site will continue its focus on larger machines, said Jamie Pace, manager of ASB's sales department.
Its Indian facility also will be physically expanded by the end of the year.
``We made special efforts to enhance market competitiveness of the group's mainstay products,'' said Ichiro Mizuuchi, in announcing his company's first-half financial results for 2006 on May 24.
``Engineers were transferred to posts in India to facilitate production transfer to the group's Indian factory.''
Pace said the company is seeing a more active blow molding machinery market in the United States over 2005.
``In 2005, we achieved our targets in North America but the first half was very slow, and we made it up in the last half,'' he said.
By comparison, the company already has met its first-half 2006 targets.