Out of the 3,000 injection molding machines annually sold in North America, 44 percent are all-electric presses under 200 tons a sizable niche market that Engel Machinery Inc. is now fully poised to tackle with the introduction of its e-max all-electric injection presses.
The North American debut of e-max followed the European introduction at the K show in October and the Asian rollout at Chinaplas in Shanghai in April, said Steve Braig, Engel North America president and chief executive officer. But the Austrian machinery maker stresses the importance of the U.S. and Canadian all-electric, small-tonnage markets, especially as automotive, its largest end market, slows down.
The compact e-max series now features clamping forces of 55-200 tons, and additional sizes 35-, 80- and 160-ton machines will come out next year. Its compact design with tie bars creates a small footprint and saves floor space. With a 1.4-second dry cycle time, the series is equipped with high-performance injection units that deliver high shot-to-shot persistency. Its low-friction platen movement helps reduce energy consumption.
``The injection unit on the e-max has not been available with that type of machine,'' Braig said. He added that e-max's injection speed and pressure, combined, hasn't been offered by any competition in the market.
The e-max also is the first all-electric machine in the same price bracket as a comparable hydraulic machine, placing Engel in a good position to challenge the dominance of Japanese all-electric machines in North America.
Braig said Engel's business and production scale, vertically integrated structure, highly automated assembly and e-max's standardization provide cost advantages. E-max also stands out with its globalized footprint: designed in Europe, made predominantly in Asia, and marketed globally including North America.
``From the currency perspective, it is favorable,'' said Braig, noting the e-max is mostly produced in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, and some in Europe. ``The Korean won has been mostly parallel to the U.S. dollar in the past two years, whereas the euro and Canadian dollar have been adversely developing to the U.S. dollar.''
Engel's plant in Shanghai, China, makes mid-to-large size machines, he added, complementing the small-tonnage machines made at the South Korea facility.
Compared to Europe, America and Asia have traditionally had higher demand for all-electric presses on a percentage basis. The need for low-cost, all-electric machines in these regions is indisputable, the company said.
Engel also is offering the most extensive support network for e-max, with more than 50 service engineers throughout North America.
Meantime, Engel is expanding its North American headquarters in York, adding small- and mid-size machines and robot manufacturing to current production of large presses. The Guelph, Ontario, location has stopped production of presses but continues to provide sales, parts and service with a new technical center. The Canadian operation also will make molding cell automation systems.
Engel plans to open a technical center in the U.S. by year's end, and build a new facility in Mexico housing a tech center by the end of 2009. Specific locations were not disclosed.