Plastics News reporters gathered these stories at NPE2009, held June 22-26 in Chicago.
Frimo, ABB hook up for FlexTrim project
A FlexTrim cell exhibited at ABB Ltd.'s NPE2009 booth formed the centerpiece of an agreement between ABB Robotics and Frimo Group.
The firms will jointly manufacture and market the automated routing, trimming and cutting cell. The deal also means Osnabruck, Germany-based Frimo now has preferred integrator status with Zurich-based ABB in the plastics industry.
Jeff Daily, president and CEO of Frimo Inc. of Wixom, Mich., said the agreement provides joint marketing and sales opportunities for the partners. The NPE booth was the first example of the combined marketing effort.
For ABB, the deal exposes it to new markets, especially automotive, said Ted Wodoslawsky, marketing vice president in the robotics division. Frimo has a strong position in developing automation cells for plastic auto part producers.
The automotive sector may be in a trough right now, but that situation will change, he said: This agreement means we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of an automotive recovery.
Offering flexibility through automated robot-based cells will appeal to automotive original equipment makers, Daily said. Carmakers are making a wider range of models at lower cost and FlexTrim suits that requirement.
Frimo Group employs 1,200 at 15 locations and had annual 2008 sales of 150 million euros ($210 million).
Pelletron upgrades dedusting chamber
The company that brought dedusting technology to the plastics industry has revolutionized its own invention increasing throughput capacity 400 percent while using less energy.
Pelletron Corp.'s new RC-series cylindrical dedusting chamber, on exhibit at NPE, was the key to increasing throughput, giving users flexibility to treat varying amounts of materials, said Heinz Schneider, CEO and president of the Lancaster, Pa., firm.
Dust can create voids and black spots in molded and extruded products, and has long been responsible for tearing up expensive screws. Eliminating dust and streamers from resin enhances part quality, reduces scrap and downtime and significantly lengthens tool life.
You know the saying for computers, 'Garbage in, garbage out?' It's the same for plastics, Schneider said.
At the core of the dust-removal technology is a magnetic coil that removes electrostatic charges from the material, then separates and filters the dust and streams, by blowing air through the material and separating it.
Schneider said the firm wants to provide low-cost dedusters that everyone can afford.
Las Vegas company hopes to hit jackpot
Las Vegas-based motor efficiency controller maker Power Efficiency Corp. used NPE to introduce itself to the North American plastics industry a market rife with opportunities to sell its energy-saving devices, according to company officials.
Power Efficiency's patented E-Save technology uses a microprocessor and circuitry to monitor the energy requirements of a motor. The E-Save monitors the voltage and current fed to the motor, and precisely calculates the power the motor requires, the company said. In this way, energy use is reduced.
The inrush of electricity to a machine on startup can sometimes cause a power shutdown in industrial facilities, business development director Jay Mistry said June 24.
The firm's E-Save creates a soft start and reduces energy consumption throughout its run.
The E-Save units are best suited for variably or lightly loaded applications, such as elevators and escalators, according to Mistry. It is designed for motors that are running constantly but need an influx of electricity in variable doses.
A common example in its early adoption in the plastics industry has been for granulator units, Mistry said. The grinders run constantly and require a jolt of power only when scrap materials are added. During low load times, the unit conserves energy by shutting off the voltage for part of the half cycle.
Power Efficiency technology is being used in plants owned by packaging firms Berry Plastics Corp., Graham Packaging Co. LP and Ball Corp., the company said.
Power Efficiency officials said they are in the midst of testing their products on injection molding, injection blow molding and extrusion machines.
Conair Group reports best-ever NPE sales
People in the plastics industry love the smell of commerce in the morning.
At NPE2009, Conair Group Inc. sold multiple energy-efficient, single-stage PET drying systems and other equipment to two customers for a total of about $2 million a figure Conair officials said was among the company's largest-ever NPE deals.
Orders of this sort are significant any time, said Larry Doyle, vice president of global sales and marketing. What's been most exciting this week has been the fact that customers are coming to NPE eager to talk about investing in real projects.
Conair would not identify the customers except to say both are North American-based.
Conair introduced an Energy Smart single-stage drying system for PET and other plastics requiring higher drying temperatures. The ES-1 uses some technology from an older, two-stage system.
The dryers can handle resin throughputs of 400-5,000 pounds per hour. A new TouchView dryer control regulates air temperature, dew point and airflow.
The controls can fine-tune operating conditions to keep a stable temperature in the hopper, regardless of throughput changes or variations in materials temperatures or ambient conditions.
Conair is based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry Township.
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