Visitors to Techne SpA's exhibit at NPE2009 could see the firm's new Advance machine, billed as an alternative to long-stroke blow molding machines.
Long-stroke machines work by lining up a large number of mold cavities, which zip back and forth under the parisons.
The high-output Advance turns that concept on its head with a carousel-type arrangement. Two or four mold clamps shuttle beneath a single, stationary extrusion head, accept the parisons and then move away for blow molding.
The all-electric machine outperforms long-stroke units in productivity and energy efficiency, according to Moreno Minghetti, Techne's CEO and owner. Compared to a long-stroke machine, the output is something like 5-8 percent higher. But the electrical consumption is 35 percent less and we're doing it with half of the parisons, he said in an interview before NPE2009, held June 22-26 in Chicago.
The mold carriages are much smaller and simpler than those on long-stroke machines, Techne officials said.
The company in Castel Guelfo di Bologna, Italy, still makes long-stroke machines, but interest has been growing in the Advance since Techne showed a prototype at Germany's K2007 trade show in Dusseldorf.
So far this year, Minghetti said, the Advance accounts for 60 percent of quotes and about 25 percent of sales for the company.
Founded in 1985, the company will pass the mark this year of 1,000 blow molding machines sold, Minghetti said.
Techne exports 95 percent of its production and has sold presses to 61 countries. It is amid a major push in India, comapny officials said.
Techne invested about $15 million to build a 100,000-square-foot factory in its home province of Bologna that opened in September. The plant replaced four buildings that sprouted up as Techne grew over the years.
In addition to a machinery assembly area, the new plant has a production trial area, complete packaging test laboratory and a pilot mold development center.
At PlastIndia 2009, officials announced that India's Lohia Starlinger Ltd. is making blow molding machines for Techne in Kanpur, India. Minghetti said Lohia will make smaller shuttle machines. Techne has discontinued assembly of those price-sensitive shuttles in Italy, he said. The firm plans to export the Indian machines to Russia, China and South America.
Techne generated 2008 sales of 33 million euros ($48 million), and employs 115. The company built 47 long-stroke machines last year. In the new Bologna plant, production capacity is about 65 long-stroke machines, Minghetti said.
Kyle Grodzinski, vice president of Techne North America Inc., said the company focuses on high-level packaging equipment.
The production of our machinery is typically double that of a standard machine that's in the market: higher production, faster cycles, more bottles per hour, he said.
Techne North America is based in Aurora, Ontario. It also runs a parts and service operation in Fort Worth, Texas.
Techne was one of the pioneers of long-stroke machines. But after the 2004 K show, Techne leaders realized the market was getting crowded with new players.
We saw that everybody was moving on the long-stroke. We had to do something better, Minghetti said.
As long-stroke technology advanced, the mold carriages kept getting longer and longer. Machinery makers developed ways to move the molds longer distances. But cycle time suffered, Minghetti said.
The decision was made to develop an all-electric machine. But it was not possible to make an all-electric long-stroke, since the large number of cavities required a lot of clamping force, according to Minghetti.
The Advance was the solution, developed between 2004 and 2007, with an investment of 4 million euros ($5.6 million). The machine's simultaneous movements, its shuttling in and out, would not be possible without all-electric technology, Grodzinski said.