What do you get when you combine a rejuvenated plastics manufacturing sector with the move of NPE to sunny Florida? The Transformer-like concept on SPI's posters celebrating “The Return of the Machines” — a creature fused from parts of plastics equipment.
NPE2012's sponsor, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., is hoping the machinery beast rampages through Orlando's Orange County Convention Center from April 1-5. And SPI said it should happen, thanks to lower move-in and utility rates in Orlando compared with NPE's longtime home in Chicago's McCormick Place.
But an even bigger factor could be the rebounding U.S. economy — in part, led by manufacturing — in 2012. The last NPE, in 2009, happened smack dab in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Simply pulling off North America's biggest trade show three years ago earned SPI a moral victory.
This year NPE comes with some actual, upbeat morale.
So if you're going to Orlando, expect more running equipment this NPE. Many companies will have larger booths and more equipment. On Jan. 30, SPI issued a news release quoting several injection press officials. Engel Machinery Inc., for example, will have 33 percent more equipment at its booth than it did in 2009, and President Mark Sankovitch said every single piece will be running. Sumitomo Plastics Machinery brought only three machines to NPE2009 but will exhibit 12 running presses in Orlando.
“The improved economies and logistics of the new venue have encouraged many NPE2012 exhibitors to purchase more exhibit space and bring more machinery to the show, much of it to be operated on-site,” said Gene Sanders, SPI's senior vice president of trade shows and conferences.
“Contributing to this enhanced commitment by exhibitors is the steadily improving manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy,” Sanders said.
According to Washington-based SPI, U.S. injection press shipments totaled about 2,400 units in 2011, about 15 percent more than 2,111 in 2010. That's miles above the anemic level of 1,285 presses shipped in 2009.
In less than two months, way earlier than the past NPE tradition of June, injection molding enthusiasts will be checking out machines pumping out car parts, packaging, medical items and some offbeat giveaways.
Expect to see lots of all-electric machines, which now account for about half of the U.S. market. Robots will be running everywhere, as molders keep investing in automation. Check out wireless devices that allow you to run or set up the machine from your smart phone. Yes there's an app for that — something to think about next time you sit on the beach on vacation.
Here is a preview of what NPE visitors can expect in Orlando:
Absolute Haitian Corp. (Booth 1573): Zhafir Mercury series of all-electric, tie-barless injection molding machines. At NPE, the press will mold medical pipettes from medical-grade polypropylene on a 64-cavity mold built by Cavaform International LLC (Booth 4653), and a takeout robot from Yushin (Booth 1563). The Zhafir Mercury has a two-stage injection unit that separates plastification from injection, which the company claims provides extremely high melt quality.
Arburg Inc. (Booth 3729): Six injection molding exhibits. Expanded range of Edrive fully electric injection molding machines, debuting a 66-ton press with a Multilift Select robot. A Hidrive hybrid machine with a 350-ton Allrounder doing in-mold labeling of two buckets with handles on a 4.85-second cycle time. An electric, 38-ton Allrounder molding a single-cavity lens for a microfluid dispensing unit, including 100 percent vision inspection. An electric, 220-ton Allrounder 570 A molding a two-component automotive part, integrated with an automated production cell with post-molding laser engraving. An electric, 165-ton Allrounder 520 A molding syringe barrels on a 32-cavity mold on a 6.5-second cycle. An Allrounder 375 V vertical press encapsulating cables in a production cell.
Billion SAS (Booth 40042): Injection molding machines ranging in clamping forces from 50-2,500 metric tons. Multicomponent machines. New Dixit 3 control system.
Boy Machines Inc. (Booth 2819): The latest model of Boy's E-series, with a clamping force of 22 metric tons, will mold polystyrene airline drink cups on a cycle time of about 3.8 seconds. The E-series features highly efficient servomotor pump drive for the hydraulic system of the clamp, considerably reducing resistance from flow and friction, shortening the cycle time, saving energy and making the machine run more quietly. Another E-series, 55-ton press will mold paper clips from a 16-cavity mold. Also, a 35-ton Boy 35 VH, designed for parting-line applications and featuring a horizontal injection unit and a vertical clamping unit. A 90-ton Boy 80 E with a vertically mounted injection unit will mold two-component safety glasses
Engel Machinery Inc. (Booth 943): Seven automated manufacturing cells covering automotive, technical molding, packaging and medical. The Clearmelt process will be molding a center automotive console. Two all-electric e-motion presses, making a drug-delivery device and a needle holder for a safety syringe, with cavity separation. A fully integrated six-axis robot on an Engel Victory Combi press molding complex, three-component hollow parts in a single processing step. An e-Victory press running medical/technical membranes from liquid silicone rubber. An e-motion press molding an in-mold label lid for an ice cream container. An e-cap machine. Viper robots.
Ettlinger Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH (Booth 8947): Ettlinger rotation melt filter for running plastic scrap that has high levels of contamination, the ERF250.
HPM North America Corp. (Booth 26058): New 250-ton injection molding machine.
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. (Booth 3763): The latest technologies in beverage packaging, closures, medical part molding, hot runners and production monitoring software.
KraussMaffei Corp. (Booth 1503): The MX 650+ 650-4300 molding large polypropylene screw closures for packaging in a 48-cavity mold. A CXW 200-380/180 SpinForm, using integrated assembly with TIM Stack (total integrated manufacturing), molding three-part PP closures made with cube technology and integrated assembly. The SkinForm process that molds a polyurethane structural foam on a thermoplastic part in a CX hybrid press; at NPE, KM will user a new foamed aliphatic PU material that combines excellent ultraviolet-light resistance and soft-touch properties. An all-electric EX press molding thin-wall disposable drink cups on a three-second cycle and removed by an SR 80 side-removal robot.
Milacron LLC (Booth 2803): New Maxima servo machine, with a 310-ton press making a construction-related part. A 170-ton Magna toggle servo running parts. A PowerPak packaging cell running container lids on an eight-cavity stack mold, running a cycle time of less than six seconds. An all-electric Roboshot molding LSR. An 80-ton F-Series press from Ferromatik Milacron. Mosaic controller. Upgraded Roboshot controller and two retrofit control options.
Negri Bossi North America and Sacmi Imola S.C. (Booth 925): New Vesta Series of all-electric injection molding machines. New EOS Series of small-tonnage, two-platen hybrid presses. Canbio Se Series of hybrid presses. Sytrama high-speed side-entry robots.
Netstal Machinery Inc. (Booth 1903): An Elion 2800 press molding caps for beverage bottles on a 72-cavity mold at a cycle time of 3.4 seconds, with an Intravis optical inspection system.
Niigata Machine Techno Co. Ltd. (Booth 548): Niigata will introduce the MD-W6000 series, its sixth-generation all-electric, which runs two separate injection profiles for the same mold, for molding two parts, using a tandem mold from T/Mould Solution GmbH & Co KG. The new MDVR55 X machine with a two-station rotary table, the latest series of the company's vertical all-electric. Niigata Service Cloud, powered by Salesforce.com.
Sodick Plustech Co. Ltd. (Booth 363): A 66-ton V-line two-stage plunger system molding a medical syringe made of cyclic olefin copolymer from Topas Advanced Polymers in a mold developed by NyproMold Inc. (Booth 4263). A micromolding machine producing a funnel tip made of Victrex PEEK-brand polyaryletherketone with a minimum wall section thickness of 0.008-inch, on a Mold Craft mold. A 66-ton LA100 press molding a pipette molding cell on a 16-cavity Cavaform mold.
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag (Booth 2103): SE-EV direct-drive all-electric injection press. El-Exis SP machine with hybrid drive running a high-speed, thin-wall packaging application.
Wilmington Machinery Inc. (Booth 2955): Expanded line of Lumina plastic-pallet molding systems.
Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. (Booth 2843): Six turnkey molding machine work cells, with integrated robots, automation and auxiliary equipment, all from the company. That includes a 1,000-ton MacroPower press, and cells featuring the Micro and Servo series. New R8.2 robot with Smart removal, Eco-Mode and Smart Start features. New B14 series of blenders. New Aton dryer with both rotary-wheel and dual-bed desiccant drying functions. New Tempro D series and high-temperature water controllers. The latest remote Internet connection technologies.