FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY — Fakuma 2014 gave Milacron LLC an ideal opportunity to show how its ever-growing portfolio of brands are working together in the injection molding sector.
From three stands, Mold-Masters, Ferromatik Milacron and DME discussed new developments, including Milacron's 2014 acquisitions: Kortec Inc., based in Rowley, Mass., and Tirad s.r.o., based in Zeletava, Czech Republic.
Ferromatik Milacron showed a complete system centered on an F 280 injection molding machine with Kortec's coinjection technology married with an E-Multi injection unit from Mold-Masters to produce a multi-layer fruit cup. The outer two layers are molded in clarified polypropylene, while the barrier middle layer is EVOH.
In the coinjection process, both melts are prepared in the injection units and are then overlaid across the hot runner, using the closing needle technique to solidify it into a barrier packaging inside the mold.
The EVOH layer is very thin: approximately 20 microns, said Sven Engelmann, head of applications and systems at Ferromatik Milacron, who showed the three-layer construction to journalists.
The barrier layer accounts for only 7.5 percent of the total shot weight of 22 grams, but it provides a shelf life of 6 to 9 months, said Russell Bennett, vice president of sales and marketing in the Kortec business.
The 308-ton machine used in the demonstration was a hybrid unit, with electric plasticizing and clamping. The fruit cup was molded in a cycle time of 3.5 seconds in a four-cavity mold from Nypro, in Clinton, Mass.
Another demonstration on the Ferromatik Milacron stand was a fully automated production cell with an F 120 hybrid press producing disposable syringes with needles inserted. Mold maker Zahoransky Formenbau GmbH of Freiburg, Germany, is the major partner for this application, which eliminates the need for glue.
Mold-Masters says its E-Multi portable injection units, which are used by molders for two-shot injection molding on their existing machines, is the most complete range it has ever shown. There are now a total of 12 models, double the number at the product's launch in 2010.
Other Mold-Masters products are also attracting business in the automotive sector. The company's sales of Fusion Series G2 nozzles for hot runner systems has more than doubled this year, said Enrique Moya, automotive market manager. Sales have been made to customers in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Spain, United States, Brazil, China and South Korea, he said.
Moya said: “One of the best features is fast color change. In some applications like door panels, the color change can be done in less than 15 shots.”
Moya said Mold-Masters has introduced 15 new features into the Fusion G2 nozzles and is planning another 10 features over the next year.
One development will be electrical actuators, which the company plans to introduce in 2015. Advantages of these are their accuracy, repeatability and cleanliness, Moya said.
Growth in Mold-Masters' automotive business has led to an expansion at Milacron's facility in Coimbatore, India. Staffing levels have increased from around 200 to 250 this year, with 15 people taken on to undertake work using simulation and analysis software.
Hans Hagelstein, president of Mold-Masters Europe, said: “India is a fast growing market, also in packaging. So we are thinking about investing more there in the future.”
Staffing is also increasing at Tirad's custom mold base plant in Zeletava, Czech Republic, where a new production area is being constructed. Radek Dvorek, business manager for Europe at Tirad, said the number of employees could increase to about 140 from about 100 when Milacron acquired the company in May.
Dvorek said the expansion will increase production capacity by 25 percent from the current 300 plates per month. The new building is scheduled for completion in April or May 2015.