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.
Conair's increased its puller/cutter line
Conair Group Inc. expanded its MedLine-brand puller/cutter line with a servo-motor-driven unit for small-diameter medical tubing for use in heart and brain catheters.
The new system is smaller, more precise, more accurate and less costly than competing units, said Bob Bessemer, senior engineer for Conair's downstream extrusion products, in a news release.
The Pittsburgh-based auxiliary equipment manufacturer improved the puller with independent position-controlled servo drives on the upper and lower belts and in-line planetary gear reducers. The result: speed variation for the puller is virtually eliminated.
Fast microprocessors and advanced software simplify use of the touch-screen controller and allow an on-the-fly switch from a linear velocity profile to a fully optimized profile. The controls ease the making of tapered tubing or bubble sections. Previous machinery was limited to straight tubing.
The cutter has a standard positional servo-drive system that provides cut response repeatability within 0.1 millisecond. That represents a tenfold improvement over conventional velocity-based servo systems.
Bessemer said servo-drive and control technologies have advanced considerably and contribute to the equipment meeting critical medical standards.
A self-tracking, nonslip alternative PD timing belt replaces the conventional poly-V belt on the drive pulleys. A stainless-steel cabinet is available as an option.
Conair makes the equipment in its Franklin, Pa., plant.
Milacron's StarGuard doubles screws' life
To meet demand for longer-life feed screws, Milacron Inc. of Cincinnati introduced a proprietary StarGuard process involving tungsten or chromium encapsulation.
Mark Ruberg, aftermarket services director, said the process can double the life of a feed screw made with standard steel tools or high-wear metallurgy materials.
The StarGuard process is available on used, rebuilt or competitive feed screws, and a processor may designate StarGuard protection on screws for new injection molding, extrusion or blow molding machines.
The process extends the Milacron ServTek line of injection-end products.
Dynisco Instruments making SPT sensors
Dynisco Instruments of Franklin, Mass., introduced a silicon-pressure-transducer line of pressure and temperature sensors made with materials compliant with the European Union's 2003 restriction of hazardous substances directive.
In addition to achieving the European standards, the premier sensors meet requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture for medical and food applications.
In processing applications, the tip-resident sensing diaphragm of the pressure measurement device comes in direct contact with the polymer.
The non-filled SPT sensors can operate at temperatures up to 525Ã¸ F. One series is designed to work with most pressure indicators, and another is intended to work with a distributed control system or a programmable logic controller.
As an option for all units, a thermocouple configuration is available for applications requiring melt-temperature measurement.
``The Anaheim show is the first commercial introduction and is based on the success of our beta testing,'' said Matthew Carrara, Dynisco vice president of sales and marketing.
Dynisco uses mercury as a fill for its transducers and also offers oil-filled and sodium/potassium-filled versions.
``The issue is not that those materials are considered noncompliant,'' Carrara said by e-mail. ``There are some processes, such as food and medical extrusion, which are not allowed to use any sensors with a fill material. This sensor was designed for that market.''
He added, ``The SPT is not a replacement for filled transducers; it is another option in our line of sensors and is mainly for those who wish to utilize nonfill technology.''
The SPT is priced ``higher that anything we currently offer, as it is considered a premiere product,'' Carrara said.
Dynisco, which manufactures products in the United States, Germany and Malaysia, is a unit of Roper Industries Inc.'s energy systems and controls group. Publicly traded Roper of Duluth, Ga., acquired Dynisco from Audax Group of Boston in December.
Novatec Inc. shows gravimetric system
Novatec Inc. of Baltimore displayed an MGF Series colorant-additive feeder that links a volumetric feeder's cost benefits with the precision, consistency and data generation of a gravimetric metering system.
Maguire Products Inc. of Aston, Pa., manufactures the gravimetric feeders under a cooperative agreement with Novatec, which provides a five-year warranty on the equipment.
The MGF feeders are the first gravimetric systems from Novatec or Maguire.
An MGF feeder's two load cells monitor colorant or additive weight loss as the material is dispensed from the hopper. A microprocessor controller allows entry of all dispensing parameters.
Separately, Novatec introduced optional, small-throughput NovaDrier capability for short runs, specialized components and clean room environments. Throughput may range from 0.5-5 pounds per hour. Compressed air flows through an absorption membrane in a NovaDrier.
Robotics companies display advances
Fanuc Robotics America and Yushin America Inc. have developed advanced versions of their automated equipment.
Fanuc's LR Mate 200iC mini-robot succeeds its popular LR Mate 200 with a smaller footprint, larger work envelope and faster performance. Integrated vision can locate and pick randomly oriented objects and place them in a tray. The 200iC lists for $29,000.
Fanuc of Rochester Hills, Mich., intends to fill an unidentified California customer's order for six M-430iA/2F high-speed intelligent picking robots for a packing application in June. Each M-430iA/2F costs $65,000.
In January, Yushin of Cranston, R.I., made the first U.S. deliveries of the YA/YA II Series take-out robots with improved controls for small molding machines.
Each unit costs about $24,000, or about 15 percent less than Yushin's predecessor RA II Series. Similar mechanics are used in each series.
Gentex, Natvar enter JV for laser welding
Gentex Corp. of Carbondale, Pa., has licensed Natvar Corp. of Clayton, N.C., to use Gentex's Clearweld laser welding technology under a joint development agreement.
Natvar will compound, manufacture and sell medical tubing that contains near-infrared-absorbing additives.
The additives focus laser energy, convert it into heat and facilitate the formation of hermetically sealed wells at the interface of the laser and tube. The process does not generate particulates and causes minimal thermal or mechanical stress, according to Gentex. The technology avoids the need for solvents or adhesives often used in assembly.
TWI Ltd. of Cambridge, England, and privately owned Gentex jointly developed Clearweld. Gentex has the sole right to commercialize the technology globally. TWI is a nonprofit industrial research and development organization that specializes in material joining.
Advanced Technology targeting short runs
Advanced Technology Inc. of Corona, Calif., introduced tooling for making as many as 100,000 prototype parts for product development or clinical trials.
Advanced makes the quick-change molds, called Black Tooling, from an offshoot material it uses to make its quick-turn molds for longer manufacturing runs of as many as 2 million parts. The molds for longer runs, called Silver Tooling, can handle high-temperature thermoplastics, a threshold Black Tooling cannot meet, said manufacturing Vice President Steven Riddle.
Advanced's customers range from two-person fledgling firms to some of the largest consumer, pharmaceutical and medical-device providers. The firm employs 25 at its 16,000-square-foot plant.
Japanese toolmaker pushing U.S. sales
Mold maker MD Pro Technos Corp. of Kanazawa, Japan, is entering the North American market by opening a facility in Torrance, Calif., with a sales initiative led by Matthew Engler, vice president of the international division.
Founded in 2000, MD Pro Technos mainly has supplied molds to customers in Japan, with some tooling going to Japanese-led operations in Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The firm has collaborated with 10 operations in Japan and five in South Korea.
Founder and President Shinichi Shimada said he sees North American sales opportunities for his firm's tooling designs and technologies. MD Pro makes its molds in an 8,000-square-foot facility in Niigata, Japan, and runs prototypes and trials in an adjacent building. The firm employs 15 in Niigata and eight in its Kanazawa administrative and sales offices.
``Future plans may include setting up manufacturing and design here in the States,'' Shimada said by e-mail. ``However, we need to develop the local business in order to justify this.''