Call it the ``green Fakuma.''
The 2008 version of the European trade show was packed with claims of energy-sipping injection technology and marketing pitches a taste of things to come at next year's NPE.
Green marketing was everywhere at Fakuma, held Oct. 14-18 in Friedrichshafen.
Arburg GmbH + Co. KG announced the winner of the company's first-ever Energy Efficiency Award: Wago Kontakttechnik GmbH, a producer of electrical connectors based in Minden, Germany.
On the show floor, Arburg used the term E2 to promote its technology. ``BluePower'' was the moniker coined by KraussMaffei AG. Engel Holding GmbH invited molders to ``Energize Your Future.''
In the future, energy efficiency could move beyond independent marketing claims. Equipment leaders in Europe have started to talk about energy standards under Euromap, the European Committee on Machinery Manufacturers for the Plastics and Rubber Industries. In the future, your injection molding press, extruder or dryer may come with an energy rating, just like home appliances do today.
In Friedrichshafen, equipment executives said they will keep pushing energy savings at NPE 2009 next June in Chicago.
``The general direction of all developments is clear: avoid energy losses in all areas, and improve efficiency,'' said Otto Urbanek, chief technical officer at KraussMaffei.
Although the price of oil was already sinking during the show reflecting fears of a global recession industry leaders think the long-term certainty is that energy prices will move higher. That means factories and machinery will have to adapt faster than before. And they said energy consumption is moving higher as a factor in machine-buying decisions.
KraussMaffei has even identified a business opportunity in retrofitting existing machines to reduce their appetite for energy. At an Oct. 15 news conference, Urbanek announced that, under BluePower, the firm has formed a team to give advice on how customers can upgrade presses.
Making older presses use less energy will be especially attractive in countries with fast-increasing energy prices, such as Poland, KM said.
Urbanek said BluePower is part of the company's Primus Network for Innovation, which partners with leading German universities and research institutes. He said KM engineers are working on a major advance in hydraulic power storing energy during braking, when a machine movement slows down, for use later. Other advancements will use heat from the process to help heat material.
Munich, Germany-based KraussMaffei also used Fakuma for the world premier of its AX all-electric injection molding machine, as officials gave out more details about the partnership with Japanese press builder Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. The AX cuts energy consumption by 50-60 percent, compared with a hydraulic machine.
Both companies developed the AX. Toshiba is assembling the machine, said Karlheinz Bourdon, managing director of KraussMaffei's injection molding machinery business. KraussMaffei builds the injection unit and the controller, he said. The AX pairs a Siemens drive with electric motors from Toshiba.
Bourdon said the Japanese company, which was not represented at the news conference, gains economies of scale by increasing production.
``Toshiba and our own company, we combine our strengths. We complete each other,'' he said.
On the show floor, a 100-ton AX press molded nylon connector strips, while a microphone-equipped employee explained the energy savings. KraussMaffei also is touting the AX as a lower-priced electric press.
Arburg, of Lossburg, Germany, showed four presses with its E2 energy-efficiency label two electric Allrounder A machines and two hydraulic Allrounder S presses, demonstrating high-speed molding of packaging, producing a technical part and doing two-component molding with liquid silicone rubber.
Arburg said its ALS production control station, which tracks information from the Selogica machine controller, now displays the level of energy consumption from each stage of the molding cycle. The operator can make changes to optimize energy use, said Herbert Kraibuhler, managing director of technology and engineering.
The commitment to green technology extends to top management. ``We want to contribute to reducing energy use at our customers,'' said Michael Hehl, managing partner, at Arburg's Oct. 14 news conference.
Engel, of Schwertberg, Austria, highlighted its new E-max all-electric press, built at its site in South Korea. Another all-electric, the e-Victory, has a hydraulic pump driven by a servomotor, which only runs when power is needed.
But not all the energy savings comes from all-electric technology. Engel said its Duo Pico press, a compact, midrange two-platen machine, uses 20 percent less energy, with a faster dry cycle time, than the same size press from a competing supplier.
Gerd Liebig, Engel's marketing director, said a poll of 177 customers showed they are taking energy costs seriously. He said 60 percent said energy efficiency is a major factor in deciding which brand of machines to buy. Also, 78 percent said injection molding machines have the biggest potential to save energy, of all types of processing equipment in their factories.
Dr. Boy GmbH & Co. KG introduced an optional servo-electric motor drive for the hydraulic pump. The motor only delivers power to the pump when needed, then switches off when no pump capacity is needed.
The energy-saving E series option is available on Boy presses of 55 and 90 metric tons. At Fakuma, the 55E was molding polypropylene caps for laundry detergent.
Boy claims the pump drive uses 50 percent less energy than pumps used on Boy's standard hydraulic pump Bosch Rexroth SY.DFE pumps, which are already very energy efficient.
Boy does not offer a fully electric machine but the E series comes close, said Alfred Schiffer, managing director of the small-press specialist in Fernthal, Germany.
``The difference with an all-electric machine is close to zero,'' he said. Other advantages include a 10 percent reduction in dry cycle times, and quieter operation.
Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH introduced the Elektra selection, a lower priced all-electric with only a few pre-selected options. Made at Ferromatik Milacron's headquarters in Malterdingen, Germany, the Elektra evolution is available in four clamping force sizes 50, 75 and 110 metric tons each with a choice of three injection units. At Fakuma, a 110-ton Elektra Selection molded PP insulin caps.
Rating the machines
The next step in Europe could be standards for machinery energy classifications. Euromap recently held its first meeting on energy standards for injection presses and extruders, said Jan-Udo Kreyenborg.
Thermoforming machinery officials have not yet met.
Kreyenborg is president of the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association part of German engineering federation VDMA.
The first results from the injection and extrusion working groups should come out next year, said Kreyenborg, who is also managing director of auxiliary equipment supplier Kreyenborg GmbH of Munster, Germany.
Auxiliary makers also are talking about energy standards especially for resin dryers, which are big energy consumers.
Wittmann KunststoffgerÃ¤te GmbH has established a program to test its Drymax desiccant dryers, and put an easy-to-understand label on the dryers.
General Manager Michael Wittmann said the Vienna, Austria-based company has submitted the Drymax test to Euromap, to kick off the discussion. But he said Wittmann does not look want to impose its own standard on the industry.
``It's an open discussion,'' he said. It takes time to create energy standards, especially standard test methods, Wittmann noted. But he said he's confident.
Higher energy standards mean a faster payback from modern, efficient machinery.
``That's actually quite eye-opening, if you think about it,'' he said.