Orlando, Fla. — Trexel Inc. is expanding its MuCell microcellular foaming technology into the injection molded packaging market and other thin-wall applications by introducing the P-Series at NPE2018.
Trexel is also moving into automotive blow molding, displaying air duct components made by extrusion blow molding and suction blow molding. And the company touted its joint venture with German design firm GK Concept GmbH.
President and CEO Brian Bechard said NPE2018 marks Trexel's formal introduction to packaging, with the P-Series. At its booth, Trexel made in-mold-labeled yogurt cups using MuCell on a Ferromatik Milacron injection press with 220 tons of clamping force.
The molding display is using StackTeck Systems Ltd.'s TRIM process (thin recess injection molding). Bechard said Wilmington, Mass.-based Trexel worked with StackTeck to get the mold maker's expertise on the packaging market.
Bechard said Trexel had a single thin-wall packaging application a dozen years ago, helping a company use MuCell to mold packaging on machines that did not have enough clamp tonnage. Lower required clamp tonnage, a reduction in injection pressure and no need for pack-and-hold are among the benefits of the MuCell microcellular technology.
You can also fill from thick areas to thin ones.
That first project using MuCell could mold packaging on an eight-second cycle. Trexel made several improvements, changing the nitrogen injection design, moving the gas close to the machine, making the system more robust and adapting the software, Bechard said in an interview at Trexel's booth.
"We now can handle a three-second cycle," he said.
Brand owners and converters will get the MuCell benefits of reduced part weight, lower clamping requirements, more freedom for part design and elimination of warpage and sink marks.
Late last year, Trexel launched a joint venture with GK Concept of Dresden, Germany, a company that does product development, finite element analysis, injection molding simulation and tool design. The joint venture is called 2Limit, and it focuses on injection molded foaming applications. NPE2018 marks the U.S. trade show debut for the joint venture.
Trexel is also making automotive extrusion blow molding news in Orlando. Bechard said the company has been in 2D blow molding before but now can offer MuCell for 3D molding in the suction blow process. One key feature: processors can use a regular screw; they do not need a special MuCell screw.
MuCell can reduce the weight of the ducts by 40 percent, Bechard said.
Continuous extrusion blow molding is a continuous process, so the extruder area does not have to be sealed for MuCell. Suction blow molding is an intermittent process, so the process does need to be sealed under pressure for MuCell — the same requirement of injection molding.
The microcellular bubbles come out of the melt when it comes out of the pressurized area, like the bubbles in a soft drink when you open the cap.
MuCell is a physical foaming agent — the tiny bubbles come out in solution. Trexel also showed its chemical foaming agent, TecoCell, at NPE2018.