ORLANDO, FLA. — Just like the bottle cap manufacturing happening at its booth, business is cranking right now for Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery.
John Martich, vice president and chief operating officer for the company in Strongsville, Ohio, said business was up 20 percent last year in the United States, measured in number of units, compared with 5 percent growth in the overall U.S. injection machine market.
“Outstanding. I'm going to describe it exactly that way,” Martich said at NPE 2015. “That continues for the first two months of this year.”
SDG said business is up across a range of industries, including automotive and medical.
Tony Marchelletta, Midwest regional manager, said that several trends are pushing demand for more precision manufacturing equipment.
Reshoring from low-cost Asian countries is part of that, Marchelletta said, as are customers like Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers bringing more molding in-house, and that's driving them to buy more precision machines.
Business conditions aside, SDG used NPE to highlight the range of its machinery.
It showed nine injection machines, including all-electric, hybrid and hydraulic models, employing a range of technologies such as gas-assisted molding for a car door handle; high-cavity, thin-wall molding of medical pipettes; and a drawing stencil for children molded with rapid heat and cooling technology.
The centerpiece was the bottle cap, and it was relying on work from a variety of other NPE partners. French mold maker Plastisud supplied the 96-cavity hot runner mold for the 1.3 gram high density polyethylene cap, and had to specially design it for factors like shear heat within the melt stream and the fast ejector process required so the caps fall correctly.
“This speed can only be achieved if there is a perfect match between the mold and the machine,” said Mike Uhrain, technical sales manager, packaging. “Mold engineering, as well as machine performance and precision, is key.”
The company hit a 1.9-second cycle time with the machine during the Chinaplas 2014 show, and hoped to crack that during the show, Uhrain said. It hit 1.85 seconds per cycle on the show floor, but that was the day before the show opened, he said.
That record represented the fastest bottle cap manufacturing on standard injection equipment, for closures meeting the industry standard 29/25 cap for water bottles, with tamper-evident bands molded into the part, he said.
“For the 29/25 cap, I've never seen it made faster in a show or in production,” Uhrain said.
In addition, the company said the water-cooled chiller for the process comes from Frigel North America, Inc.; the hot-runner temperature control from SISE Plastics Control Systems Inc.; and the mold dehumidification system from Eisbär Trockentechnik GmbH.
There were other high-tech applications SDG highlighted, including a micromolding machine that manufactured a half-gram POM gear for a cataract surgery instrument.
The gear, which drove the surgical blade in a device developed by Eye Care & Cure of Tucson, Ariz., had a diameter of 0.775 millimeters and a gap between gear teeth of 85 microns. It's well suited for portable cataract surgery or use in developing countries, the company said.
From a manufacturing point of view, Sumitomo Demag's SE30DUZ direct-drive, all-electric press with the company's SL screw assembly was molding the gear in a single-cavity, cold-runner mold built by Sansyu FineTool in Takahama City, Japan, and on loan from micromolder Makuta Technics Inc. of Shelbyville, Ind.
SDG, which formed in 2008 when Tokyo-based Sumitomo Heavy Industries Inc. bought Germany's Demag Plastics Groups, also introduced a machine in its all-electric SE-EV series, an HD (for heavy duty) press, to the North American market.
The machine is designed to mold thicker-walled parts, including complex parts with a combination of thin and thick walls. The show press had a clamping force of 202 tons, with others sizes including 112 and 146 tons.
The SE-EV-HD can provide full pressure for up to 40 percent of the molding cycle and maintain exceptional stability, officials said. It is ideally suited for parts with cycle times of 15 seconds and longer — applications ranging from automotive to appliance and consumer products.