D-M-E Co. used K 2007 to introduce what it called the industry's first hot-runner nozzle assembly optimized for starch-based bioresins such as polylactic acid. The company also is seeing strong growth in Asia and plans to bring to the United States early next year a hot-runner system for crates and containers that it has been selling in Europe.
D-M-E, a Milacron Inc. subsidiary, developed the Eco-Smart hot-runner system for PLA resins at its Madison Heights, Mich., headquarters and intends to make it commercially available worldwide in the first quarter of 2008, according to Bob Ameel, D-M-E's global business manager for hot-runner systems.
``Until now,'' Ameel said, ``molders have been getting by with special-order stainless-steel parts to meet their needs.''
PLA, which uses fermented natural plant sugars to create a clear plastic used in a variety of packaging applications, is hypersensitive to heat, leading to molecular breakdown, and it can degrade quickly into highly corrosive acids. In normal operation, Ameel said, those polymers tend to plate out acids into the walls of the molding system.
So D-M-E engineered the Eco-Smart system to feature corrosion- and wear-resistant components as well as a thermal profile designed to suit PLA's sensitivity. Ameel noted the firm is working to adapt the system for use with two other types of bioresins.
He also said D-M-E plans to bring its Bacchus hot-runner system for molding crates and containers to the U.S. market in 2008's first quarter. Developed at the firm's European headquarters facility in Mechelen, Belgium, the system is available in four- and six-drop configurations.
President Dave Lawrence also commented on recent activity in Asia. He said D-M-E got its distribution center up and running in Shenzhen, China, and is building a hot-runner application engineering center there.
The site employs about 40 now, and Lawrence said he expects to add 15-20 staff members within four months.
He added that two months ago, the company shifted its technical center in India from Mumbai to Bangalore, and that D-M-E's business on the subcontinent grew by 27 percent in dollar sales in 2006 compared with 2005. This year's pace of growth there will exceed that, Lawrence said, though he did not offer actual sales figures.
In Europe, he said D-M-E bought out its distributor in Poland and made that operation into a direct sales office. This fall the company shut down its 40-person plant in Melrose Park, Ill., and consolidated production at three other North American sites, in an effort to create more-focused plants.