Friedrichshafen, Germany — Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH is rolling out its vertical VPower injection press at Fakuma 2018, and company officials gave more details on the recent investment in Italian MES startup ICE-Flex.
Wittmann Battenfeld plans to expand production of its vertical injection molding machines at its main plant in Kottingbrunn, Austria, Wittmann Group CEO Michael Wittmann said at the company's Oct. 16 news conference.
So far in 2018, the machinery manufacturer's order income has declined by 5 percent, from 2017, but sales are expected to finish the year up 6.7 percent, at 430 million euros ($496 million). He explained that Wittmann Battenfeld started the year with a very big backlog, so 2018 began "extremely strong."
But business is leveling off this year, he said. European machinery sales are lower, hit by the European automotive industry.
In what Wittmann called the "Trump effect," Asian business has been hurt by tariffs, and he said some manufacturing work is moving out of the country. The United States is steady but not growing much, he said.
Also restraining growth is a shortage of some components, including gear boxes and motors, he said.
"We had an extremely strong fourth quarter and extremely strong first quarter of 2018. But since that time, it has grown weaker," Michael Wittmann said. He said business has softened in August, September and now October.
"We do see a little bit of lower order entry," he said.
Fakuma marks the first time the VPower will be introduced to the general public. Visitors to the company's 10th anniversary celebration in Kottingbrunn, Austria, in June saw the machine.
VPower is the first vertical machine in Wittmann Battenfeld's PowerSeries design of presses. The new VPower offers a high level of energy-efficiency, compactness and user-friendliness. The rotary table is powered by a standard servo-electric drive.
Georg Tinschert, CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, said the injection unit can be converted from vertical to horizontal and back, even after the press is delivered. The absence of a middle tie bar enables central media supply from below through the rotary table, or the installation of a compact rotary manifold.
"It's completely open for automation and integration," Tinschert said at the press conference.