Winchester, Ky. — Two of the giant injection molding machines installed at the Infiltrator Water Technologies LLC plant in Winchester are the largest presses ever built at the St. Valentin, Austria, plant of Engel Austria GmbH.
The Schwertberg, Austria-based machine builder handed over the first 96-foot-long press in February 2022 and the second one this month.
The machines have clamping forces of 8,000 tons each and injection units that allow shot weights of 270 pounds for manufacturing Infiltrator's large water management products.
Made of polypropylene and polyethylene — most of it recycled — Infiltrator chambers and tanks have leach field, septic and stormwater uses.
Founded in 1990, Infiltrator has invested more than $140 million into the Winchester site in recent years with the latest updates aimed at expanding production capacity of septic chambers and 1,000-gallon septic tanks.
The two Engel machines were fully assembled and tested then disassembled and shipped to the U.S. after special arrangements were made.
For example, the platens were transported along the Danube River on barges and the delivery of 29 truckloads of parts from Austria had to be coordinated along with a 59,000-square-foot building expansion.
A 150-ton overhead crane was installed to help assemble the presses and move molds in and out of the machines.
"We have made significant investments in new equipment, and this will allow us to produce our products more effectively and efficiently," Bryan Coppes, vice president of engineering and research and development at Infiltrator, said in a news release. "It is the new capabilities and opportunities for continued product development that is truly exciting."
Infiltrator is a subsidiary of Hilliard, Ohio-based Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. (ADS).
ADS ranks No. 1 in the most recent Plastics News survey of North American recyclers with annual reprocessing volume of 647 million pounds.
With extrusion sales of $2.1 billion, ADS also is the fourth largest pipe, profile and tubing producer in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.