These news briefs were reported from NPE2012, held April 1-5 in Orlando, by Plastics News correspondent Frank Antosiewicz.
Fipa Inc. relocates to larger, nearby site
Fipa Inc., which showed customized grippers and a miniature rotary unit, has boosted its U.S. presence.
The company on May 1 moved its headquarters in Cary, N.C., to a larger, 1,750-square-foot facility there that includes a customer service and engineering office. Fipa also has a warehouse in Springfield, Ohio. The company specializes in vacuum technology and end-of-arm tooling.
“We're doing the show as an introduction to our business,” said Tom Herndon, general manager.
Fipa had a banner year last year and tripled sales, said Herndon, adding that he is hopeful the company will double sales again this year.
The firm, whose parent Fipa GmbH is in Ismaning, Germany, offers about 10 new products a year, most of them made in Germany.
Fipa's custom insert gripper includes a model made for an undisclosed injection molder. The equipment was needed to insert a threaded bushing into a mold. The gripper is moved by compressed air so that it is inserted and then detached from the tool, ready for the next insert.
The company also customized grippers for a Delta robot to be used for such unusual tasks as handling apples or baked goods.
Also on display was a miniature rotary unit, slightly larger than a matchbox, that is pneumatically controlled via a twin cylinder.
Strain tester handles very small specimens
Zwick USA brought to NPE its new laserXtens extensometer for strain testing of extremely small sample sizes without contact or specimen marking.
Bob Donohue, business development manager, said the laserXtens has two measuring heads with digital cameras. A laser light source illuminates a specimen, generating a speckle pattern on the surface that is tracked by software in consecutive images, determining a strain in real time.
The software algorithm has two modes of operation. As the virtual marks move within the field of view of the camera, the software automatically moves the analysis window. When the window reaches the edge of the view field, it automatically switches to a second measuring mode to determine the flow of material and calculate the strain value.
The Kennesaw, Ga.-based company also showed its Aflow extrusion plastometer for high-throughput testing. A pneumatic feature allows the polymer being tested to be defined and evenly pre-compacted.
Melt indexer controls temperature of barrel
Tinius Olsen introduced its latest melt indexer, the MP1200.
“What's unique is that everyone tests with two heaters,” said marketing director Wayne Hayward. “We use three heaters and each has its own control. We try to maintain the temperature of the barrel.”
The machine uses three platinum resistance thermometers, and the company claims the temperature of the furnace can be maintained to within 32° F and allows only a maximum variation of 32° F along the barrel.
The MP1200 comes with either a manual system for applying weights or with a motorized weight-lowering device. It has a touch screen, and a simple sequence of screens can quickly set it for testing. Tests can be stored in memory. The device also keeps a running average of the last 25 runs and can be linked to a computer running Horizon software.
Other features include a die-release system that allows for easier cleaning, a tapered weight design for safer loading and unloading, optional extrudate cutters and a built-in mirror that allows an operator to see the extrudate leaving the die.
The MP1200 is also insulated so that it remains cool to the touch.
Tinius Olsen of Horsham, Pa., has been in the testing field for 125 years. It started off by testing the steel in boiler plates that were used on paddle boats. The company employs 250 people working at its 90,000-square-foot facility.
Small extruder offers cost effectiveness
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. showcased its tiniest extruder for laboratory use.
The Process 11 parallel co-rotating twin-screw extruder has 11-millimeter screws and is designed for polymer and food industry research.
“Say, you want to test 50 grams of material. How can you process this? If you go to an extruder, usually you need kilograms,” said Tom Geilen, product manager for material characterization process instruments. He said it solves a dilemma some testers may face: cost vs. availability.
It costs less to process smaller amounts of material and if the material is very expensive or in short supply, the available amount may be limited.
Geilen said the machine is built in such a way that it allows direct scalability, meaning that the same principles will be evident in the small machine as in a larger machine.
The extruder is a benchtop model and comes with a touch screen and an integrated feeder control.
The Waltham, Mass.-based firm also showed spectrometers, and web-gauging and material-characterization equipment.