NPE 2006 marked the North American trade show debut of Krauss-Maffei Corp.'s injection molding compounder, or IMC, which pairs a compounding extruder with an injection molding press to compound resin and then mold it directly into a part.
KM molded a 30 percent glass-filled automotive front end on an injection press with 1,000 tons of clamping force. Glass rovings were fed into the compounding extruder.
Krauss-Maffei has run an IMC before, at K 2004 in Dusseldorf, Germany. But Executive Vice President Paul Caprio said many molders here still do not know about the exotic technology.
``I really think it will open up the eyes of U.S. molders,'' Caprio said at a June 20 news conference at NPE 2006 in Chicago.
Some IMC systems pair a Krauss-Maffei extruder with an extruder made by sister company Berstorff GmbH. But the one running at the Chicago show was assembled by Krauss-Maffei, using some Berstorff components, according to Josef MÃ¤rtl, chairman of KM's managing board.
MÃ¤rtl said Krauss-Maffei has sold more than 30 IMCs worldwide so far - about one third of them in the United States - into applications such as automotive and packaging.
In one unusual application, Krauss-Maffei sold a unit to a company that makes food for animals - although Caprio and MÃ¤rtl were tightlipped about identifying the exact species of animal.
But on the plastics side, Caprio said high material prices are driving customers to look at the IMC. A processor can compound resin in-house, fully customized for the molded part.
Caprio said the mind-set of U.S. molders has changed and they realize they are in a good position to reach the huge U.S. consumer market - the world's largest - if they modernize their plants. Commodity work has been lost to China, probably forever, he said.
Krauss-Maffei Corp. of Florence, Ky., is the North American operation of Munich, Germany-based Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH, which makes injection presses, extruders and reaction injection molding equipment for polyurethane processing.
The company generated $140 million in 2005 sales from North America. MÃ¤rtl said KM has identified several U.S. growth markets for its machinery: manufacturing systems, large-tonnage injection presses, all-electric machines, extruders for sheet, pipe and profiles, and RIM.
RIM is a fast-growing area for Krauss-Maffei. MÃ¤rtl said the company used to focus just on automotive but now targets white-goods appliances and PUR tooling, too.
Electrolux AB bought high-output KM machinery for a refrigerator plant in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
In extrusion, the company has seen growth in machines for PVC sheet lines and plastic lumber.
In other NPE news, KM showed its EX all-electric press, an 88-ton machine molding a medical protector part. The direct-drive EX uses a Z-toggle clamp. MÃ¤rtl said the press has a long holding-pressure time, thanks to the water-cooled design and very fast injection.
Visitors to KM's NPE exhibit also saw two of the small-tonnage CX presses. One has a bolt-on second injection unit for multicomponent molding.