Japan's Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd. (Booth W1529) wanted to think small for NPE, and debut a 7.7-ton hybrid micromolding machine, showing off its high-tech focus by making tiny components for suture instruments on the show floor.
But something big got in the way — labor disputes at the U.S. West Coast ports that gummed up a lot of cargo coming in from Asia.
Nissei had to tear up its NPE playbook after disputes with dockworkers unions left the micromolding machine, the NPX7 Advance, and five other higher-level machines it planned to send from Japan stuck on a ship off California, unable to make it to NPE in time.
The company, one of Japan's largest injection press makers, had to decide five weeks before the show to replace those machines with six of its standard models already in its U.S. warehouses.
Even with the setback, it's still hoping to show off Japanese technological solutions to daily manufacturing challenges like shortening cycle times, reducing defects or handling special materials.
And the company said it sees its U.S. business looking up.
In an NPE interview, Nissei President Hozumi Yoda said that the company's U.S. sales will be up 20 percent in its current fiscal year, which ends March 31.
He attributed the increase to several factors, including the weakening Japanese yen which makes Japanese-exported machines cheaper, and a general trend of some of its customers shifting manufacturing from China to the United States.
“We can gain a lot in the United States but in China we decrease the numbers, because Chinese business is transferring back to the U.S.,” Yoda said.
He said that profit margins on machines sold in America is higher than in Asia outside of Japan, another positive trend for the company.
The United States accounts for about 25 percent of Nagano-based Nissei's global sales, about the same percentage as Asia as a whole, outside of domestic Japanese sales, he said.
Regarding NPE, Yoda said the company was frustrated at first that it could not show the technology-oriented machines it wanted to bring.
Instead, it's showing a series of its standard machines, arranged in a work cell that is actually manufacturing a plastic model of a Nissei molding machine.
Beyond the micromolding machine, it also wanted to show equipment for gas-barrier injection molding, machinery for molding thermoplastic and liquid silicone rubber and add-on machines for putting a second injection unit in a molding machine.
The company looks at NPE as a chance to show some of the latest Japanese technology, said Steve Kato, a regional manager in the company's Jamesburg, N.J., office.
The NPX7 had clearly been the key part of its NPE plans.
The machine took up more than half of Nissei's 660-word pre-show news release, for example, with the company highlighting that it has a 65 percent market share in Japan for such ultra-precision tiny machines.
The NPX7 has a 12-millimeter inline screw, which “was thought impossible,” the company said, along with a highly energy efficient “X pump” that uses 40 percent less electricity than a hydraulic machine and has “wide-ranging” injection speed performance.
The machine is capable of molding micro parts of less than 1 gram, and the company sees it as a strong contender for precision molding applications for companies making medical, automotive and electronics parts, in particular.
It was to be exhibited with a “smart feeder” resin dispensing system and what Nissei said is its high-end controller, the “Tact-IV.”