Strong sales of its Golden Edition press and the electric Alldrive machine lifted Arburg GmbH + Co. KG to record sales in 2006, company executives announced during Arburg's Technology Days.
Year-end numbers will not be available until the end of April, but Arburg officials said sales definitely will top the machinery maker's best-ever sales of 356 million euros ($450 million) in 2000. The total sales numbers include Arburg's factory in Lossburg, a small town in southern Germany's Black Forest region, and from 21 national companies around the world that sell and service Arburg presses.
Held March 22-24, Technology Days drew 3,470 visitors to Lossburg, including 2,005 from Germany and a record 180 from the United States. Visitors came from 42 countries to tour the mammoth, highly automated factory, where parts are delivered to assembly areas via more than five miles of overhead conveying lines that crisscross the plant. The layout allows Arburg to combine mass production and a high degree of customization.
The efficient factory enables Arburg to sell machines all around the world that are built in high-labor-cost Germany. Arburg steadily has invested about $20 million a year in its operations, which employ 1,683 people in Lossburg.
``Despite Arburg's international orientation, we are still clearly committed to our sole production site at Lossburg,'' said management spokesman Michael Hehl.
As they entered the building, attendees watched earth-moving equipment prepare the ground for a 108,000-square-foot customer center and new reception area. Hehl said the building should be completed in the fall of 2008.
In the United States, Arburg is building a 5,800-square-foot technology center in Irvine, Calif. The company also has purchased a 6,000-square-foot building for its tech center in Elgin, Ill.
About 25 percent of its 2006 press sales, measured by units, came from its Golden Edition - a hydraulic machine that the company said boasts many standard features at a lower price and with quick delivery. The Alldrive electric presses accounted for 10 percent of total units, up from 8 percent in 2005.
Arburg officials do not release the number of injection presses made each year, but Hehl said the company has a 54 percent market share in Germany, in smaller presses with clamping forces of 400 metric tons and lower. The company has a 37 percent European market share in that press size.
Herbert Kraibuhler, managing director of technology and engineering, said Arburg wants to be a complete supplier that can integrate upstream and downstream equipment. For example, Arburg supplies equipment to handle inserts for vertical insert molding, and Multilift robots to remove the final part.
Arburg ran more than 40 injection presses during Technology Days, demonstrating processes such as multicomponent, micro-assembly, thermoset and water-assisted molding; the processing of leather fibers mixed with plastic; and liquid silicone rubber processing. Many of the machines used robots and secondary operations arranged into a production cell.
Here are some highlights:
* Arburg demonstrated in-mold assembly of a micromolded part on a 70-ton Allrounder U. Three separate parts, from two materials, go into a tiny universal joint, a part used in an automotive air conditioning system. The assembled parts, weighing just 1.6 grams, were made on a four-by-four-cavity mold.
First, the vertical injection unit molded the yellow universal joint from polybutylene terephthalate. When the mold opens, it revolves, and then the horizontal injection unit shoots in the black acetal parts. The mold has three core pulls.
Good parts dropped down into a bin. Runners were sorted onto a conveyor belt and removed.
* A 110-tonne Allrounder U did in-mold assembly of a cable inlet, also from parts of PBT and acetal.
* Arburg molded a heat-resistant, foam coaster from liquid silicone rubber, using the Optifoam process. A highly compressed gas is the blowing agent, so part weight can be cut by 30-40 percent - an attraction, since LSR is expensive. The company said the technology can make LSR seals for automotive or consumer electronics markets.
* A 130-ton, Allrounder 420 C press molded electronic switch casings from polycarbonate, using the MuCell process. MuCell creates a microfoam in the part, reducing the cycle time and cutting part weight. It runs through Arburg's Selogica machine controller.
* Two presses in Arburg's laboratory molded hinges for eyeglasses using metal powder injection molding. Another press molded ceramic parts.