DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 17, 4:20 p.m. EST) — Arburg GmbH + Co. KG is on pace for a second straight year of record sales, executives of the injection press manufacturer said at K 2007 in Dusseldorf.
Arburg should exceed its 2006 sales of 363.4 million euros ($456 million), according to Michael Hehl, managing partner of the Hehl family-owned company in Lossburg, Germany. At Arburg's Oct. 24 news conference at K 2007, Hehl and other company officials declined to give a specific sales number.
Arburg in 2006 expanded its efforts in Asia, with a subsidiary in Shenzhen, China, and a new showroom in Thailand, plus trading-partner relationships in Vietnam.
Made out to resemble an airport, Arburg's K-show booth emphasized global business. Helmut Heinson, managing director of sales, said Arburg exports about 60 percent of its machines outside Germany, to more than 70 countries worldwide.
But Hehl made it clear that Arburg remains committed to manufacturing only in Lossburg, the small town in the Black Forest of Germany, where the company employs about 1,700. Arburg is building a 108,000-square-foot customer service center next to its factory. Hehl said a highlight will be a 7,000-square-foot demonstration room, with space for about 30 machines.
The United States remains Arburg's most important export market, Heinson said. The company opened two technology centers in 2006, in Elgin, Ill., and Irvine, Calif.
“Although the market for injection molding machines has diminished significantly there in recent years, we still see a very big potential in the U.S.A. for Arburg, and our sales figures in the past few years confirm this trend,” Heinson said.
He said U.S. customers want turnkey solutions, including the press, auxiliary equipment, automation, engineering and service.
In automation news, Arburg introduced the Multilift V Select at K 2007, for use on all Allrounder A and Allrounder S machines. The servoelectric robot comes with a range of pre-defined features, making it reasonably priced, according to the company.
Arburg's technology news included the K-show debut of its largest-ever injection molding machine, an Allrounder S with 500 metric tons of clamping force. In Dusseldorf, the press molded all five pieces of a folding crate, which was removed by a Multilift V robot and then automatically assembled into the finished crate.
The company has merged its Allrounder U machines into the Allrounder S series of hydraulic machines.
Arburg continues to build on its Golden Edition, with a larger, 460-tonne press. The company originally developed the machine for its 50th anniversary of making injection presses in Lossburg, but has continued the line because of popular demand.
Arburg has kept the price down by offering fixed combinations of clamping force and injection units. Now officials are applying the Golden Edition concept to vertical, rotary-table machines. The first Golden Edition vertical has a clamping force of 80 tonnes.
Arburg also has added new sizes to its electric press line, the Allrounder A, with machines of 130 tonnes and 150 tonnes. At K, the 150-tonne Allrounder A molded polypropylene syringes in a 48-cavity mold, on an eight-second cycle.
A smaller, 100-tonne Allrounder A demonstrated two-component molding to turn out a six-way connector housing of polybutylene terephthalate with seals from liquid-silicone rubber.
The largest Allrounder A, a 200-tonne model, did in-mold labeling of PP yogurt tubs in a six-cavity mold on an IML system from Waldorf Technik GmbH & Co. KG of Engen, Germany.
K show goers also saw a three-component Allrounder S press making a light-emitting-diode light strip in a single production step. A special electrically conductive nylon plastic is overmolded onto the LED components.
At the Arburg press conference, Herbert Kraibuhler, managing director of technology and engineering, said customers have a simple, but challenging goal: 100 percent good parts. The press maker showed how optical monitoring, using a camera, can make it happen. An all-electric Allrounder A was molding coil shells, tiny parts used in electronics. A Multilift H robot removed the coil shells, then moved each one past an optical-inspection station, which checks whether the molded parts are complete and the thin gutters for the insertion of the solder pins are perfectly formed. After inspection, the robot transfers the parts, sorted by cavity, to four trays on a rotary table using a tube system — automatically sorting out bad parts.
Kraibuhler said the optical system feeds information back into the machine controller. “The machine will exactly follow these reference curves,” he said.