GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Even before Chinaplas officially opened in Guangzhou, Arburg's booth already started attracting traffic.
On a stage at a corner of the company's 250-square-meter (2,691-square-foot) booth, staff were rehearsing for the Asia debut and sales launch of the Freeformer, with Chinese introduction narrated by a German host, accompanied by live music.
Helmut Heinson, managing director of sales, was grilled by impatient Chinese media at Chinaplas 2014 about the absence of the Freeformer at that show. The Freeformer was unveiled to the world at K 2013. Arburg did not start taking German orders for the machine until October 2014 at the Fakuma show. The award-winning additive manufacturing system was introduced to the U.S. market at NPE 2015, two months ago.
“I'm very pleased to be able to introduce the Freeformer and our patented plastic freeforming process to you today,” Heinson said at a May 19 news conference in Guangzhou.
He stressed the Freeformer is an industrial system for additive manufacturing, to distinguish it from smaller and lower-precision 3-D printers. He also touted the use of inexpensive, conventional plastic resin as the raw material as one of the cost advantages compared to other additive manufacturing processes.
The process produces no dust or emissions and therefore does not need additional infrastructure, he added. Extraction units and cooling water are not required either.
The Freeformer suits the cost-effective manufacturing of one-off parts and small, multiple-variant batches, the company said.
Arburg is exhibiting two Freeformers at Chinaplas as well as seven Allrounders for packaging and medical applications.
Customers in Asia that are interested in the Freeformer need to first contact Arburg's Shenzhen subsidiary, which has set up a designated area for additive manufacturing and a manager who has received extensive training at Arburg's headquarters.
In an interview with Plastics News, Heinson said the significant depreciation of the euro against both the dollar and yuan has made the company's products more competitive in the United States and in China. He would not quantify the impact, but said the trend was reflected in its record 2014 sales of 548 million euros ($575.9 million).
Arburg is the only major Western injection molding press maker that does not have production outside of its home base. It manufactures its entire product range exclusively at its headquarters factory in Lossburg, Germany.
Toni Tong, the head of Arburg China, noted an increasing trend of local processors using high-tech machines. He said the company is focusing on the booming packaging and medical device industries and plans to increase its technology consulting and competence in turnkey solutions.