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Photo by Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH Michael Wittmann, left, with Juraj Majersky, who is managing director of Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH's new office in Slovakia.
Officials of Wittmann Battenfeld will announce a new injection press unveiling at K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, later this month, and the machinery maker has opened a subsidiary in Trencin, Slovakia, to intensify its activities there.
Juraj Majersky, a sales representative who has represented Wittmann Battenfeld, has been appointed managing director in charge of the new subsidiary, which opened in September. He is supported by Michael Slaba, who is managing director of Wittman Battenfeld CZ in Pisek, the Czech Republic.
Majersky is responsible for technical customer support and spare parts, in addition to sales activities. The machinery manufacturer plans to recruit a salesperson and a service engineer in 2017.
Wittmann Battenfeld officials said there are about 250 injection moulding companies active in Slovakia, and Majersky expects that to grow since automotive suppliers are expanding rapidly there.
Michael Wittmann, managing director, said: “The positive economic development in Slovakia and the increasing demand for injection moulding technology in this region call for a more targeted development of this market than was required in the past.”
At K, Wittmann Battenfeld will present the first press in its EcoPower Xpress series — a high-speed, all-electric injection moulding machine aimed at packaging and thin-wall moulding. The drives for injection, closing and opening movement are designed for fast movement and control accuracy.
At Düsseldorf, an EcoPower Xpress will mould polypropylene lids on a 4.7 second cycle mould, running an eight-cycle mould supplied by Greiner Packaging. A W837 side-entry robot inserts the foils for in-mould labeling, removes the molded lids, presents them to a vision inspection system and then separates the good parts from rejects.
Photo by S?ntis Packaging
Swiss group S?ntis Packaging is selling its PET bottle blow moulding business to the newly formed Swiss company Bonapack for an undisclosed sum.
Bonapack, located in Bischofszell, Switzerland, is set to complete the purchase by December 2016. It has already installed the four S?ntis stretch blow moulding lines at its plant and is scheduled to put the new unit into operation in January next year.
Bonapack is working closely in the acquisition with a Swiss partner packaging producer, Sitterdorf-based Biplast, whose chief executive, Beat Hurni is co-owner and shareholder in Bonapack. Biplast specialises in bottle production.
The stretch blow moulding division was put up for sale because Rüthi-based S?ntis Packaging plans to focus its business on its core operations of sheet extrusion and thermoforming quality multi-layer packaging as well as injection moulding.
Bonapack, established in a matter of weeks, will produce PET bottles in volumes from 60 ml to 2 litre sizes adding finishing services such as labelling, shrink sleeving and printing. The firm says it will offer S?ntis blow moulding customers an easy transition along with a bigger product range and the extra decoration services.
The division takeover is a strategically important step, enabling S?ntis to concentrate its investment and efforts on its main core technology and other key operations, confirmed S?ntis CEO Bettina Fleisch.
Biplast, launched in 1965, produces a range of products including bottles, cans, containers in a variety of plastics. Bottles come in sizes from 5 ml to 3 litres. It decorates the packaging with screen printing, labelling and shrink sleeving. Biplast employs a workforce of 60.
Zahoransky's Z.Lodos is a compact add-on unit for universal tray loading and unloading
German robotics and materials handling firm Zahoransky has developed a new modular palletising system for plastics processors, that recognises the “growing trend away from bulk goods”. The Z.Lodos is a compact add-on unit which can be integrated into any automation plant and has been developed for a wide range of universal tray loading and unloading applications.
With this tray loader, parts can be removed, stored and transported according to further production step requirements. In the basic version of Z.Lodos the standard tray loader has a tray size of either 400 x 600 mm or 400 x 300 mm. Stack height is up to 600 mm. Customer-specific trays can be supplied on request.
Zahoransky claims tray changeover times of up to 3.5 sec. Suggested application areas include the plastics and pharmaceutical industries, medical technology as well as the cosmetics and consumer goods industries.
For handling larger numbers of units, Zahoransky recommends the Z.Lodos TUL add-on unit. The tray loader on this unit has a claimed speed of up to seven cycles a minute. The standard version of the Z.Lodos TUL has a tray size of 900 x 600 mm and a stack height of up to 1,170 mm. The Z.Lodos TUL is available as either a loading or unloading module. The stacked trays can be transported or emptied with a suitable transporter, to enable the injection moulding process to be efficiently decoupled from downstream automation.
The company says that these new products, used in combination with its existing Z.Siroc (a standardised module for the automatic supply, assembly and removal of plastic parts directly at the injection moulding machine) can help deliver complete integrated systems for all areas of injection moulding.
The Engel v-Duo is billed as a large-scale machine which offers fibre composite applications and high cavity pressure processes
Northern Ireland-based composites and thermoplastics manufacturer CCP Gransden has secured an Engel v-Duo machine after visiting the injection moulding machine specialist’s Centre for Lightweight Technologies in in St Valentin, Austria.
CCP Gransden, which is based in Ballygowan, made the purchase after research into the moulding of advanced thermoplastics, which offer significant weight reduction and increased strength.
The Engel v-Duo is billed as a large-scale machine which offers fibre composite applications and high cavity pressure processes.
CCP Gransden engineering director Robert McConnell, said: “Such high levels of control and automation are not the norm for compression moulding presses. Engel’s ability to assist in the development, integration and operation of a complete manufacturing cell was also a key consideration. In fact, the ability to future proof aspects of the machinery, to revisit and add equipment in the future, was really important to us.
“We aim to offer a flexible, integrated and high quality manufacturing solution. To this end we have worked with Engel to develop a unique factory management and manufacturing cell.
“Going forward, we plan to carry out further development of the cell to maximise its integration. Even at this early stage in our progression, it is clear that this will be particularly applicable to automotive, aerospace and defence related manufacturing. Its high levels of control, data recording and quality engineering distinguish this cell from other capabilities currently available.”
Engel UK managing director Graeme Herlihy, said: “We were very keen to provide a solution for what is clearly a very exciting and challenging project.
“CCP Gransden visited our Lightweight Technologies Centre in Austria and together we concluded that their operation would benefit from the large vertical v-duo 1100, combined with a smaller injection unit.
“These machines have formed the foundation of the new cell, together with the integration of a high temperature oven, high pressure resin transfer moulding unit and the addition of a six-axis robot.”
In July polymer markets were well supplied with material from European production lines and imported material.
The downward L/LDPE price trend gathered momentum in July and August despite very limited cost movement. The ethylene contract prices settled €10/tonne higher in July and down €20/tonne in August. Producers initially attempted to stabilise prices, but given the lengthening supply situation, they had no choice but to implement substantial price reductions.
LDPE prices slipped €75/tonne over July and August with LLDPE down €100/tonne. Margins remain at historically high levels, but have dipped sharply over the past two months.
Availability of all grades is plentiful. There are currently few interruptions to European production sites and an abundant supply of imported material.
Converters ordered at a brisk pace to build up their stock levels following the sharp price reductions in July. However, some producers closed their order books early in August to deter any further pre-buying.
In July, HDPE producers were forced to offer substantial price discounts due to growing over-supply, despite a €10/tonne rise in the ethylene contract price. Blown film prices fell on average by €50/tonne with blow moulding and injection moulding prices down €25-30/tonne.
HDPE prices continued to fall in August, but at a slower pace. Blown film prices were down in line with the €20/tonne fall in ethylene costs, while blow moulding and injection moulding prices fell €10/tonne.
Blown film grade supply was readily available throughout the last two months both from local suppliers and from imports, but blow moulding and injection moulding availability became more limited in August.
The sharp price decline encouraged converters to top up their inventories in July. Demand slackened in August, but nevertheless remained respectable for the start of the holiday season.
PP producers had to concede price rebates in July despite a €17.5/tonne increase in the propylene contract price. There was simply too much material available and demand remained lacklustre. Homopolymer injection prices fell €30/tonne with copolymer injection down €20/tonne and homopolymer film down €10/tonne.
PP prices stabilised last month following a rollover in the propylene contract price.
Material availability lengthened in July with more than sufficient European production being supplemented by a growing supply of imported Asian material. Homopolymer film was least affected by the cheaper imports. However, supply started to move closer to balance last month as local producers put a brake on production.
Demand was on the low side in July as converters adopted a cautious approach as prices were expected to fall. Sales picked up from early August once prices had stabilised.
For July, PS producers initially targeted limiting the fall in general-purpose PS (GPPS) prices to less than the €125/tonne reduction in the styrene monomer reference price to broaden their profit margins, claiming that buyers did not absorb the full increase in the monomer in June. Indeed, major producers posted just a €80-85/tonne decline in their GPPS prices for July, significantly below the styrene monomer decrease.
PS producers were however unable to meet their price goals due to ample supply. Turnarounds at several styrene plants in Europe came to an end in June and there were additional imports from the US. Overall, European GPPS prices fell in line with the €125/tonne drop in styrene costs.
GPPS prices stabilised last month following a rollover in the cost of styrene. Material availability was heading back to normal levels.
For July, suppliers of PVC base resin fought hard to pass on the proportionate €5/tonne increase in ethylene costs, plus a small mark-up for profit improvement. In most cases however, market conditions permitted nothing more than a price rollover. PVC compound prices edged €10-20/tonne higher due to a rise in additive costs.
Following a €20/tonne reduction in the August ethylene contract price, PVC producers hoped to make up for the margin losses of the previous month in
August by calling for a rollover. Producers did however seem to be losing the battle as base resin prices slipped €5-10/tonne by mid-month.
There were no notable supply restrictions during the last two months with most PVC plants running at normal rates. Demand was normal in July but slackened last month with the start of the holiday season.
European bottle-grade PET prices slipped again in July despite a rollover in the cost of paraxylene. Prices were down on average by around €10-15/tonne. This masks a wide variation in price settlements with larger buyers managing to secure larger price concessions than smaller volume buyers.
PET prices slipped again last month by a further €10-15/tonne. The European paraxylene contract price had not settled by mid-month, but was expected to fall €20-30/tonne as a result of muted downstream demand.
There was a plentiful supply of material even though local producers are carefully controlling production rates. There has also been a steady inflow of cheaper imported material from Asia in recent months.
PET demand was at the lower end of market expectations during the summer, especially in Southern Europe, and slipped further during the August holiday season.
US-based additives maker Riverdale Global has introduced a series of liquid antimicrobial agents for use with polyolefins and engineering thermoplastics, which it claims gives more effective product protection at lower letdowns than masterbatches.
The company says its Plus Clean (styled ‘+Clean’) additives can be used at letdown ratios of only 0.2 to 0.5% and disperse more readily in polymer than pellet concentrates. The company claims this offers greater antimicrobial protection at a lower cost.
Plus Clean antimicrobials are inorganic silver-based formulations that prevent discolouration, odours and product degradation caused by the growth of bacteria, mould, and yeast. They have been optimised for colour retention in both indoor and outdoor applications.
Plus Clean AM-139 liquid additive is for use with PE or PP at 0.2 to 0.4% letdowns; and Plus Clean AM-150 liquid additive is for use with engineering resins at letdowns of 0.3 to 0.5%.
“The liquid form of Riverdale Global’s Plus Clean antimicrobials ensures low and precise metering rates and improved mixing and dispersion,” said Charles Irish, Riverdale’s vice president of product development. “Enhanced dispersion is particularly important for product protection because it promotes an even distribution of the agent at the surface.”
Plus Clean antimicrobials are designated for use in housewares, consumer electronics, healthcare devices and other products in applications susceptible to microbial attack.
Larry Wei, chairman of Taiwanese blow moulding equipment maker Fong Kee International Machinery
Taiwan’s large plastics and rubber machinery industry has seen exports drop by more than 10% since the beginning of 2015, as the slowdown in mainland China has taken a significant toll on the sector.
While China’s difficulties were acting as a drag, it wasn’t all bad news — Taiwan’s industry reported a significant increase in plastics machinery exports to the United States, which officials attributed to strength in manufacturing there.
At its 12 August news conference on the opening day of the Taipei Plas show, industry officials released statistics that point to struggles for Taiwan’s industry.
Plastics and rubber machinery exports for 2015 fell more than 10%, to $1.12bn (€1bn), and that trend continued through the first half of this year, with exports down a further 11% from what was already a tough 2015.
But there is some early evidence that things are turning around.
Alan Wang, chairman of the plastics and rubber machinery committee of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry, said that based on recent orders, officials believe the second half of the year will bring the industry back to growth.
Beyond the drop in exports to mainland China, Wang said the industry has been hurt by problems in the electronics and computer manufacturing industries, which are significant customers for Taiwan’s plastics industry.
Exports to China, which is Taiwan’s largest market, plummeted 37% in 2015, to $222m (€199m). That almost single-handedly accounted for Taiwan’s global drop last year.
Executives said Taiwanese manufacturers have been trying to diversify into other markets, including Southeast Asia. Vietnam is Taiwan’s second-largest plastics machinery export market, and shipments there rose 14% in 2015, to $122m (€109.2m).
Larry Wei, chairman of Taiwanese blow moulding equipment maker Fong Kee International Machinery, saw a silver lining in increased exports to the United States, which was Taiwan’s third-largest market.
“This not only suggests the US economy was on the mend, but indicates Taiwan’s plastics and rubber machinery had improved in terms of quality and functionality,” Wei said at the news conference.
Exports to the US jumped 67% last year, to $83.5m (€74.7m).
For other key markets, however, sales dropped. Exports to Taiwan’s fourth and fifth largest export markets, Indonesia and Thailand, each dropped more than 8%.
“Over the last two years, the global manufacturing business has suffered greatly from the economic downturn,” said Michael Wang, a vice chairman of TAMI’s plastics and rubber committee.
“The currency market has also become very volatile,” said Wang, who is also an executive in the Taiwan factory of Hong Kong-based machine maker Chen Hsong. “All of these have had a significant impact on Taiwan’s plastics and rubber machinery industry.”
According to TAMI statistics, Taiwan, which has a population roughly the same as Texas, is the sixth largest exporter of plastics and rubber machinery worldwide, behind Germany, China, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Designed as a beacon for environmental innovation in the UK, the building is focused on green technologies and sustainable construction
Hasco UK has relocated its warehousing to the company’s central storage operation, aligning its operational practices with its sister companies across Europe.
The mould-maker has transferred warehousing operations to its site in Luedenscheid, Germany.
Additionally in September, the firm will move its UK operation to a new site a few miles away – but still in Daventry.
The firm will operate from the iCon Environmental Innovation Centre, Daventry. Designed as a beacon for environmental innovation in the UK, the building is focused on green technologies and sustainable construction.
Hasco UK managing director, Neil Moseley, said: “Hasco currently has 100,000 live products, and as product ranges are extended and new products are introduced this number will grow further.
“Achieving effective delivery to meet customers’ demands requires stock. Achieving effective delivery to meet customers’ demands requires stock, and this strategic change creates around 30 times more product availability than we could previously accomplish.”
The building has a conference centre, a range of meeting rooms, exhibition space and onsite catering facilities.
“With the office ideally sized to meet our needs the move also offers us a number of other benefits,” Moseley added.
“The layout is more conducive to staff interaction and the low-carbon design of the iCon Centre show we are taking the environmental impact of our business seriously.”
Photo by Arburg GmbH + Co. KG Production at Arburg's headquarters in Lossburg, Germany.
During K 2016, Arburg GmbH + Co. KG will display 12 machines at its own traditional “lucky number” booth of Hall 13, Standard A13 — and a total of 27 exhibits.
The company from Lossburg, Germany, will show innovations in lightweight construction, liquid silicone rubber processing, packaging technology, medical, additive manufacturing and more.
But Michael Hehl said Arburg always keeps the wraps on some big announcements. “Anyone who is familiar with Arburg will know that you can always rely on us to produce a surprise and that we like to keep an ace up our sleeve. Things are no different in this important K year,” said Hehl, managing partner and spokesman for the Arburg management team.
Hehl said the Allrounder Golden Electric entry level machine series, which debuted in March, was the first product innovation for 2016, “but by no means the last.” Arburg will show a 470 Golden Electric press with a clamping force of 100 tonnes, moulding a technical part.
Arburg will showcase the Industry 4.0 concept, which ties all factory equipment and systems together in a fully automated fashion. In Düsseldorf, the company will link together a vertical Allrounder 375 V injection press, a Freeformer additive manufacturing machine, and automation to show the “smart factory” available today.
Turning to lightweighting, Arburg will demonstrate the Profoam physical foaming process used on conventional injection moulding machines, running an automotive application with a high-gloss finish, because of dynamic mould-temperature control.
Cube molding technology will be showcased on a packaging world premiere. And Arburg will produce a wristwatch by two-component molding of two different LSR materials, including assembly of the watch casing.
In a medical demonstration, a high-speed electric Allrounder 470 A will to high-speed moulding in a clean room.
At K, three Freeformers will be in action.
And Arburg, for the first time, will host a separate recruiting area where university graduates and skilled professionals can learn about job opportunities at Arburg.
The company’s US location, Arburg, is in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, US.
Sumitomo Demag managing director Nigel Flowers: "keep suppliers close".
Injection moulding machine manufacturer Sumitomo Demag has said the future for UK suppliers of plastic moulded components looks set to remain “buoyant”.
In a recent report prepared by the Automotive Council UK, annual output by UK vehicle makers is forecast to exceed two million units by 2020. Of all the components required for vehicle assembly, close to 80% could, in theory, be produced by UK suppliers, the organisation has suggested.
In addition, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has revealed that 1,420,636 new cars have been registered so far in 2016 – the best half-year performance ever recorded.
In all, demand for new cars was up 3.2% in the first half of 2016.
“There has been a definite trend among OEMs and vehicle makers to switch their procurement to domestic suppliers as it reduces supply chain risk and lead times,” said Sumitomo Demag managing director Nigel Flowers.
“From a quality and risk management perspective, it is safer to have your supplier close by. In recent years there’s been a significant amount of UK re-shoring in the injection moulded component sector.”
Photo by Automobili Lamborghini Automobili Lamborghini already uses carbon fiber in body parts. Now its new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory is looking into using carbon inside the engine.
Carbon fibre body panels or trim pieces on a breathtakingly expensive supercar like a Lamborghini are old hat.
But carbon fiber connecting rods in the engine? Now that's exotic.
Such an advance is one of several carbon-based technologies Automobili Lamborghini is exploring at its new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory in Seattle. The 8,000-square-foot shop opened last month, with Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali on hand for the ribbon cutting.
"These materials, this research, represents the future of our automotive vision," Domenicali told the gathered crowd.
That vision includes using carbon connectors rather than steel, cutting their weight between 40% and 50%. Using them in a V-12 engine would have many benefits, including noticeably improved power and acceleration.
Lamborghini's goal is to have the world's first production car with carbon connectors, the automaker's head of research and development, Maurizio Reggiani, told Automotive News, a sister publication of PNE.
"I [hope] that in one, one-and-a-half years, we are able to finish development and say this can be a part that can be in the future in the engine," Reggiani said. "I hope that we are able to have something in production soon."
Such a feature would be viable in the Aventador's successor, Reggiani confirmed. That car will be introduced in 2020 or 2021, Domenicali said.
The rods themselves are made from forged composite, a cornerstone of Lamborghini's Seattle outfit.
This technique moves beyond the traditional methods of using prepreg carbon fiber or resin transfer moulding.
Instead, forged composites simply take a premixed lump of carbon fibers and resin, drop it into a steel mold and apply heat and pressure. Three minutes later, a piece ready for finishing, a drastic reduction from the 12-hour and 3-hour cycle times of prepreg and RTM, respectively.
It was this construction method that Lamborghini used on 80% of its wild Sesto Elemento supercar in 2010.
While the bulk of Lamborghini's R&D is done back at home base in Sant'Agata, Italy, its nimble, six-person Seattle operation is there to "intercept new ideas and concepts," said Paolo Feraboli, director of the lab.
"What's unique about this facility is we go from making to testing to designing quickly," Feraboli said. "It's what we call a shrunk-down version of a company like Boeing."
Photo by RPC Bebo Winner of the SPE ETD food packaging category award: RPC Bebo produces the Veggiefresh margarine pack tub and lid in the IML-T process
At the sixth thermoformed parts competition held by SPE’s European Thermoforming Division, RPC Bebo Plastik, based in Germany, received the thin gauge food packaging award for the rectangular Veggiefresh IML-T margarine tubs and lids in PP. Jürgen Merbach of RPC Bebo Plastik said these went into production in April 2016.
The jury praised the application for premium tub and lid decoration with a 5-sided label used for tub sidewalls and bottom, and its utilisation of existing tools. The jury said this is “the way to beat injection moulding in high volume in-mould labelled tubs and lids”.
Bebo says IML-T for lids allows more precise label positioning than off?mould labelling, and that the same tooling can produce different lid weights.
In the heavy gauge vehicle/automotive category, Technoplast Industries, France, was awarded for the double-skin engine hood on the Manitou Maniscopic forklift handling vehicle. ABS/PMMA is used for the aesthetic outer surface and 15% glass fibre reinforced PA6 for the inner side. The GF-PA6 provides additional stiffness and chemical resistance against media to which the inner side is exposed.
Walter Pack, Spain, won the thin gauge vehicle/automotive award for a back-lit day&night effect door interior trim, thermoformed at high 100bar pressure with a 10-layer PC foil printed with multiple ink layers. The final complete trim part is obtained after UV curing by back injection moulding. Walther Pack had also submitted an emergency window for coaches.
Formplast in Sweden was awarded the heavy-gauge building award for the 1,000 x 1,500mm UV-stabilised PC roof dome it produces for Velux, on account of achieving high optical quality in normal positive thermoforming.
Among other parts submitted and displayed, two had already received innovation awards elsewhere. One of was the Champagne Pack from Top Clean Packaging in France, an item that won a “best design for end-of-life” category award in January at the first European Plastics Awards, arranged jointly by PlasticsEurope and SPE.
Aside from transport protection, the blue HDPE nesting pack can be used for bottle shelving. It extends the established Lo-G bottle packaging that won a thin gauge award at the 2014 SPE ETD parts competition for Protective Packaging Systems. Top Clean Packaging thermoforms the Champagne Pack in its Cartolux-Thiers, France, and Cartolux-Suzhou, China, plants.
A PVC medical diagnostic machine air cooling duct, displayed at SPE’s Sitges conference, is twin-sheet thermoformed by US company Profile Plastics in Lake Bluff, Illinois. It won a 2015 SPE gold thermoforming award in the US.
The part is thermoformed in 3.2mm thick Sekisui SPI Kydex T PVC sheet as left and right parts in temperature-controlled, machined aluminium, 2-cavity, female moulds to form each twin-sheet duct. The complex 3D close tolerance shape involves an inside?pinch design, makes full utilisation of restricted interior space and integrates a formed?in attachment flange.
Among other exhibits displayed in Sitges was an unusual Twister cup with a twisted shape that has been thermoformed by Jema MC, and the latest version of Cifra’s paint trays with removable layers for easy cleaning.