Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH has ambitious plans to double its injection molding machinery business within the next three years.
Managing Director Georg Tinschert announced the plan June 4, at the first open house for the Kottingbrunn-based company since its April 1 purchase by auxiliary equipment company Wittmann KunststoffgerÃ¤te GmbH of Vienna, Austria.
According to the plan, sales should double from 110 million euros ($171 million) to 220 million euros ($342 million), as a result of nearly doubling the number of machines sold from today's 800 to 1,500 machines per year.
The company expects to achieve that growth by exploiting synergies in the sales organization, and areas of technical and market competence between Battenfeld and Wittmann.
Wittmann's experience in in-mold labeling recently was strengthened by the acquisition of specialized toolmaker Paul Regad SA of St.-Claude, France. That experience will be a core element in the planned growth, and will be supported by a new TM Xpress Wittmann Battenfeld toggle machine designed for high-speed applications.
A TM Xpress injection molding machine was among the machinery demonstrations at the open house. Fitted with a KTW mold, an accumulator for fast injection and a servo-electric drive for metering and parallel ejection movement, the machine produced 2.2-gram closures with a 4.8-second cycle time.
Wittmann Battenfeld sales director Gregor GÃ¶bel said the TM Xpress is aimed at around one-third of typical packaging applications. Tinschert added that it is not extreme speed that is being sought, but reliable high-quality molding, typically of small in-mold-labeled containers.
The companies will demonstrate IML at the Fakuma 2008 trade show, Oct. 14-18 in Friedrichshafen, where Wittmann and Wittmann Battenfeld will have separate exhibits. Integration of Wittmann linear robots in Battenfeld machine systems also will be a feature at Fakuma, with Wittmann Battenfeld dropping production of the 150-200 linear robots per year that it has been making in view of benefits from the far-greater production of 2,500 robots per year at Wittmann.
There are plans to show a further development of the Battenfeld piston-fed micromolding system at next year's Fakuma show. A modular version of the EM all-electric machines, with 30-300 metric tonnes of clamping force, will be available in the first half of 2009. The machines have been made since 2004, incorporating technology from Ferromatik. Those will be followed, in 2010, by new two-platen machines ranging from 500-1,600 tonnes, according to Tinschert.
Werner Wittmann, chairman, president and founder of Wittmann, pointed out that there will be particular benefit for the Battenfeld all-electric machines from the servodrive technology used for Wittmann robots.
He added: ``We have to reduce production costs. This can be done by using Wittmann facilities, but the production hall in Kottingbrunn will have to be enlarged and the ceiling raised in order to make the larger machines.''
Tinschert was enthusiastic about the new ownership, explaining that Wittmann Battenfeld is the first injection molding machinery maker to become a system supplier with all of its own development and production within the wider group.
Battenfeld's previous owner, financial investor Adcuram, had maintained that production of injection molding machines is a commodity business. Although Tinschert agreed that the machines are indeed produced like a commodity, he added that they cannot be considered commodities in the final applications, as there is a high degree of technology involved.
According to Werner Wittmann: ``I am convinced that Battenfeld had a healthy core. It was short-term liquidity and not debt that had caused it to file for insolvency early in 2007. It was just a question of time for us to make such a step. It was a very favorable opportunity.''
He said there are no plans to drop the Battenfeld name from the newly formed Wittmann Battenfeld, as ``it has an importance.''
He added that Battenfeld had not worked in central and Eastern Europe intensively in the past, but with the enhanced ability in offering complete system packages there should be better opportunities in the region, as well as in Asian locations, especially China.
Wittmann is not concerned that the connection between Battenfeld and Wittmann will create conflicts of interest with the new company organization. ``Demag still buys robots from us,'' he pointed out.
``We are, of course, pleased to supply other molding machinery makers. Even after Demag bought the [Germany robot maker] Neureder automation company, business with Demag still went well for us,'' he said.
Wittmann said Battenfeld has not had a strong business position in the United States. But, he noted that as Battenfeld of America will be integrated into Wittmann Canada and Wittmann USA, respectively, the situation also should improve in North America.
GÃ¶bel added that sales synergies in some areas ``will not just double but multiply our forces by much more.''
Other developments since the Battenfeld acquisition include a new vertical molding machine with electric drive for higher speed and greater precision and new B6E and B6S more-advanced control systems.
Vink is senior editor of European Plastics News, a sister publication to Plastics News.