Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported the following news from six collocated West Coast trade shows held Feb. 13-15 in Anaheim, Calif.: Plastec West, Medical Design & Manufacturing West, West Pack, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, Electronics West and Automation Technology Expo.
IQMS gives upgrades to software versions
IQMS, a developer of enterprise resource planning software, is offering a new version of its EnterpriseIQ, with added visibility and control enhancements.
The company, based in Paso Robles, Calif., also began commercially distributing its outsource-central module and cost-of-quality module software. The outsource-central module tracks production at vendor locations, and the cost-of-quality module allows manufacturers to monitor and address production issues.
IQMS also has enhanced its real-time machine monitoring meters, which now offer a variety of manufacturing data on a single screen.
During 2006, IQMS' sales rose 27 percent and its customer base grew 15 percent, compared with the previous year.
IQMS employs 85 in the U.S., up from 65 a year earlier. Last year the company moved from a leased location in Paso Robles and settled into a newly constructed, 30,000-square-foot facility in the city.
Wittmann expands product capabilities
Auxiliary equipment maker Wittmann Inc. recently expanded in the U.S. and announced several developments, including a coupling station that uses contact-free radio-frequency-identification coding.
The company also promoted its ability in using RFID technology in materials handling, with its RFID-coded couplings designed to eliminate resin selection errors.
Wittmann Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Wittmann Kunststoffgerte GmbH of Vienna, Austria, recently completed a 20,000-square-foot addition at its Torrington, Conn., headquarters. The site accommodates a training center and technology laboratory, and is equipped with a noise-suppression area and large bay doors. Training classes began in January.
Wittmann Inc. shipments increased 15 percent during 2006 over the previous year, according to David Preusse, president of the Torrington unit. Preusse attributed the rise to several of the firm's markets, including a thriving medical market, with a particularly healthy niche for pipette tips. Other strong segments for Wittmann's equipment include fast-cycle, high-cavity thin-wall molding of cutlery; high-speed packaging applications; and washing machine component manufacturing.
Even automotive, a currently problematic but historically strong equipment market for Wittmann, is experiencing robust sales volume for the firm, Preusse said in a telephone interview.
Meanwhile, Wittmann's 7,500-square-foot office and training facility in Queretaro, Mexico, is to be completed by May, said that unit's managing director, Carlos Chavez. Wittmann Mexico reported 2006 growth of 70 percent vs. 2005, and is pushing into the Central American market.
Wittmann KunststoffgerÃ¤te projects 2007 global sales of $185 million, up from $172 million in 2006 and $160 million on 2005.
Plastics processors grab Idaho's interest
A team of Idaho economic developers brought a message of low costs and energy efficiency to the Anaheim trade shows with a special push on the Boise region's benefits.
``We target medical-device manufacturing as a core,'' said Paul Hiller, executive director of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership. The region is interested in plastics processing and packaging businesses as well, he said. Hiller added that the metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing in the nation.
Fiscally conservative Idaho does not want to follow California's business environment, said Phil Stiffler Sr., economic project leader with Meridian City.
The state's growing plastics business includes extruder and equipment maker Marlon Inc., which operates as PVC Spiral Supply in Boise and supplies the bookbinding industry; rotational molder High Country Plastics of Caldwell, which makes water tanks; and Ready-Made Plastic Trays of Nampa, which vacuum forms trays from molds produced in-house.
PVC Spiral builds its own extruders and two types of coil-forming machines, including a large model sold to trade binderies. In Boise, the firm's 35 employees and eight extruders occupy 23,700 square feet in three buildings, said supervisor Jock Farra.
High Country, which employs 32, is adding 22,000 square feet to its 28,000-square-foot plant.
Ready-Made doubled space to 14,000 square feet in August when it moved to Nampa from Meridian, said owner and President Shane Annekar. Ready-Made operates a Brown thermoforming machine and a Haas computer numerically controlled mill. The firm processes polystyrene, electrostatic-dissipative materials and PVC.
Major original equipment manufacturers in the region include a Hewlett Packard Co. imaging and printing group facility and contract electronic manufacturer Micron Corp., both in Boise; MPC Computers LLC in Nampa; and Louisiana-Pacific Corp., which extrudes fencing in Meridian.
In 2004, Boise State University established a technology and entrepreneurial center.
Arburg emphasizes value of U.S. market
Arburg Inc. molded two polypropylene cups in two-second cycles on a 110-ton electric Allrounder 420 A injection molding machine. President Friedrich Kanz said the Allrounder line can handle fast-cycling, high-precision, thin-walled parts and has energy-efficient modular drives.
Kanz said the U.S. market is ``very important'' to his Newington, Conn.-based business, which employs 55 there. Arburg Inc. is the North American subsidiary of press maker Arburg GmbH + Co. KG of Lossburg, Germany.
``The [U.S.] market has been changing since 2000,'' he said. ``The demand from molders requires better machines and better solutions and more human resources, which we are addressing.''
Kanz updated progress in establishing new Arburg technology centers, predicting one will be completed in Elgin, Ill., by April or May and one in Irvine, Calif., by August.
Arburg sells presses with clamping forces of 14-618 tons.
One barrel produces 3-color components
Toshiba Machine Co. America of Elk Grove Village, Ill., demonstrated on a 110-ton EC Series NII all-electric injection press how a single barrel can produce three-color molded products.
Toshiba and M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. of Brea, Calif., developed the liquid-silicone-rubber technology, which involves bringing the servomotor forward and the ejector back.
The three-color, one-shot concept eliminates post-production decorating requirements and use of a second injection unit to add color. M.R. Mold has filed for a patent on the process, said President Rick Finnie. M.R. made the mold of hardened 420 stainless steel.
Fluid Automation Inc. of Wixom, Mich., supplied an M4-5 closed-loop-control flow meter machine. Dow Corning Corp.'s Hemlock, Mich., plant provided its new Silastic liquid silicone rubber grade S40, which is suitable for disposable medical applications, and Gayson Silicone Dispersions Inc. of Barberton, Ohio, handled the additives. Kruse Analysis Inc. of Naples, Fla., used software to simulate the process. Toshiba's V30 controller monitored each step in the process.
Avanced Polymer Alloys of Wilmington, Del., promoted its extrudable, nonhalogenated DuraGrip thermoplastic elastomer 6300 series for automotive weather seals and window seals. The firm said its product is suitable for ultrafine thin-walled profile designs and can be coextruded with polypropylene and polyethylene. Advanced Polymer Alloys is a division of Ferro Corp. ... Automated Packaging Systems Inc. of Streetsboro, Ohio, showed nine-layer coextruded packaging films CBAR and WBAR as competitively priced options to near-military-specification and other high-barrier materials. The company said the films have low rates of moisture-vapor and oxygen transfer and are useful in filling waterproof and greaseproof bagging requirements with the firm's bags-on-a-roll system on its Autobag packaging machinery.