Sunday, July 29, 2012

All-electric injection molding machines gaining, key to future of molding for the packaging industry

ENGEL North America demonstrated how to use these trends to increase cost efficiency and competitiveness. Two manufacturing cells for the packaging industry were on display, demonstrating the current industry challenges: highest throughput rate at lowest unit costs on the one hand, and the efficient production of attractively decorated thin walled products on the other. Thin walled lids for newly developed ice cream containers were produced by an all electric ENGEL e motion 740H/310W/200 T US combi injection molding machine using two component injection molding and in mold labeling (IML). Once the label is inserted into the mold, the cover is injected from clear polypropylene. Immediately following, a colored edge - also from polypropylene - is added as a second shot in the same mold. In series production, the color used varies depending on the type of ice cream: a red edge for strawberry ice cream, a yellow one for banana. The two component injection molding, combined with IML, allows packaging manufacturers to easily switch from one type of ice cream to another, making it possible to produce even small batches in a highly economical way. The manufacturing cell is fully automated. The all electric ENGEL e cap 3440/460 US injection molding machine used a 96 cavity mold, with an hourly production rate of almost 130,000 HDPE water bottle caps. This output is achieved by operating at a cycle time of 2.7 seconds. Cycle times of less than 3 seconds and injection speeds of 450 mm per second can be realized. Until now, this performance class was dominated by energy intensive accumulator machines, though this will change as the high precision, low energy all electrics prove themselves. Designed to achieve maximum output and process stability, the all electric injection molding machine is able to save energy and cooling water requirements at the same time. The machine bridges this challenging gap thanks to its all electric drive technology, combined with a series of sophisticated features, such as the latest powerful, premium quality injection unit, increased ejector force and a reinforced clamping drive. Compared to a hydraulic machine, the ENGEL e cap reduces energy consumption by more than 40%. Delivering clamping force of between 100 and 420 tons, the e cap is available across a comprehensive range of sizes.

Haitian introduced a new all electric line for medical molding that is the fruition of a seven year German based development project to break into the Japanese dominated field of high tech, all electric injection molding machinery. The innovations are coming from Zhafir Plastics Machinery GmbH. Zhafir Mercury 1000 35/35 is a tiebarless, all electric machine that uses side plates rather than tiebars to create 70% more mold space, allowing use of larger tools on smaller machines. The machine design is described as 30% slimmer than previous models, boosting productivity per square foot. The toggle clamp mechanism has just two levers and a central servo direct drive. The simplified design is aimed at smoother machine operation in an effort to boost repeatability. There is no lubrication requirement. The melt quality is improved by separation of plastification from injection in a two stage injection unit. A unique rinsing process is said to eliminate melt residue. Plastification occurs immediately via a high torque motor. The injection process is controlled by a central spindle driven by a servomotor, which shortens response time and achieves speeds of up to 500 mm/sec with acceleration of over 10g. There are three screw drives and three screw diameters available for each machine size. In an interesting, energy saving feature, the central power supply to the drives and a new generation of inverters from KEB GmbH recirculates the braking energy back into the power grid. Servo motors with low inertia reduce energy consumption during heavy acceleration.

Arburg's fully electric Allrounder E machines significantly expand the fully electric machine range. These machines are primarily designed for the efficient manufacture of standard items, such as technical molded parts, making them the electric alternative to basic hydraulic machines. This new fully electric series comprises a total of four machine sizes, which can each be equipped with a variety of injection units. The spectrum ranges from the Allrounder 370 E with a clamping force of 600 kN (66 tons) and size 170 (3.7 oz) injection unit to the Allrounder 570 E with a clamping force of 2,000 kN (220 tons) and size 800 (15.3 oz) injection unit. The new electric machines provide an economical, cost effective electric solution as an alternative to basic hydraulic machines. These machines offer advantages in terms of cycle times thanks to their rapid and simultaneous execution of the most important machine movements and their potential with regard to energy efficiency. With all the fully electric Arburg machines, the high efficiency of the servo electric drives and the toggle type clamping unit ensure extremely energy efficient operation. Servo motor energy recovery during braking also has a beneficial effect on the machines' overall energy consumption. Together, these factors combine to reduce energy consumption by up to 50% compared to standard hydraulic machines.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Advantages of Plastic Injection Molding

Injection molding has changed the performance of production for many of these products that you employ everyday. From the toothbrush that you use in the day to the plastic hand you used to consume your lunch. Actually the sunglasses that you wear were probably created using plastic injection molding.Plastic injection molding machines came about in the 1930′s. They’ve offered a more effective and productive method of mass producing goods that we use each and everyday. Plastic mold injection works by heating a plastic material and inserting it in to a mold cavity. That is ideal because stronger and more precise products can be produced by it. Formerly, the process most likely required considerable amounts of the plastic material that have been stamped or cut down. This allowed for lost plastic and lower quality. Mold injection enables any remaining materials to be dissolved again and reused.Sunglasses are a good example of the advantages of mold injection. Mold injection will be used by many quality sunglasses to produce their lenses and frames. This gives each contact to be nearly equivalent to another, while they were both creating in a mold cavity. This really is true with the items of the framework as well.Regardless of the product, whether small or big, a mold cavity can be created for the injection molding machine and an injection molding machine constructed for it. If it is really a little plastic model or perhaps a body section for a car, the benefits of mold injection have changed the production operations since its inception.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

North American polystyrene prices fall

North American polystyrene resin prices trended down slightly in June and July, but could be headed up in a big way in August.

Regional prices for high-impact PS fell an average of 5 cents per pound in June and July combined, while prices for general-purpose -- or crystal -- PS slipped an average of 3 cents, according to buyers and market watchers contacted recently by Plastics News. The HIPS decline was greater because of swings in price for butadiene feedstock, sources said.

Those drops came as a bit of a surprise, especially since prices for benzene feedstock -- used to make styrene monomer -- climbed almost 5 percent between June and July, plastic injection mould makersettling at $4.30 per gallon. That trend typically would lead to higher PS prices.

The drops also come after PS makers were able to lift prices an average of 17 cents per pound -- about 16 percent, based on prices for injection molding grades of HIPS -- in the first five months of 2012.

North American PS demand, however, has remained low this year, falling about five percent through May, according to the American Chemistry Council in Washington. The food packaging and food service end market fared better than the overall PS market, with demand falling less than 3 percent in that time span. That end market accounted for almost 58 percent of regional PS demand in the first five months of the year.

But higher PS prices could be on the horizon for August, based on spot benzene prices that have spiked above $5 per gallon in recent weeks. That surge has prompted PS makers to announce price increases of 10 cents per pound effective Aug. 1.

Several market watchers told Plastics News that if benzene settled near $4.70 or $4.75 for August, there was a good chance that at least half of the 10-cent move on PS could stick.

“The piranhas are out for a swim,”plastic injection mould manufacturer said Wilf Kimball, a market analyst with The Plaza Group in Houston. “There’s really no reason for benzene to be that high. The paraxylene market’s not good, and that’s affecting benzene supply, but [benzene prices] still shouldn’t be that high.”

“I think [benzene] will settle below $5 for August,” he added.

A recent research note from the Resin Technology Inc. consulting firm also mentioned the paraxylene situation, and added that increased use of natural gas-based ethane feedstock might be playing a role in benzene tightness, since it produces less benzene than crude oil-based naphtha does.

Officials with RTI in Fort Worth, Texas, added that on-purpose benzene production “has been down, since benzene has been undervalued for quite some time.”

Benzene producers also may be “hanging on to material,”plastic injection mould maker since they already have low inventories and now see costs rising, according to David Barry, a market analyst with the PetroChem Wire consulting firm in Houston.

Barry agreed that a $5 price for benzene “isn’t sustainable.”

“It’s a puzzling situation that goes against the grain of what the markets thought would happen,” he said.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Injection Molding Machines Work

Here at C&H Plastics we use 18 different injection molding machines so we can mold a variety of parts. So, what are the basics of a thermoplastic injection molding machine?

In general, injection molding is a manufacturing process that produces parts from thermoplastic plastic materials. We feed the material into a hopper, melt it in a barrel, then force it with a screw into a mold cavity. There it cools and hardens to the shape of the mold cavity.

All of this happens in an injection molding machine or injection press. We use electric, hybrid, and hydraulic machines in our manufacturing plant.

Molding machines perform five basic steps to convert the thermoplastics into a plastic part. They are:

Step 1: Melting the polymer
Step 2: Conveying the molten polymer
Step 3: Shaping the molten polymer in the mold
Step 4: Cooling the shaped polymer
Step 5: Removal of the solidified finished or semi-finished plastic part.

We adjust the settings on our machines for each job. Each injection molding machine has adjustments such as barrel temperature settings, injection pressure, injection speed, and clamp force. The mold can also be equipped with a temperature control unit to aide in cooling or heating the mold as needed in this process.

All of these adjustments are there to deal with the variables of plastic molecules traveling through the machine. These variables in the plastic molecules include the melt temperature, viscosity, pressure, and cooling rate.

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, the mold tooling is professionally designed and engineered to the specs of the plastic part. We accommodate all the variables in the plastics and settings on the machines with a comprehensive quality assurance program. We’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nilan Tool and Mold Changes Ownership

Nilan Tool and Mold, a leading manufacturer of molds for injection molded rubber components, completed the sale of it’s assets on July 9th, 2012. For more than 40 years, Nilan Tool has been designing and fabricating molds for the rubber and plastics industries. Building molds from standard compression to state-of-the-art valve gated cold runners has made Nilan a leader in the medical, automotive and aerospace industries. Hermann Grabenstatter, the outgoing Owner and President, has been involved with Nilan for over 40 years. “The market for domestically produced engineered parts is growing rapidly and Nilan is uniquely positioned to take advantage that growth” says Grabenstatter.

“Hermann has built a strong business with a unique niche. I plan to continue his legacy and grow from the solid foundation he’s built.”, said Jeffrey.

Employees and customers were notified this week of the change. The company will look to increase sales through enhanced offerings, skills, and a dedication to industry leading quality. Nilan has been a supplier for over 30 years to Federal Mogul, CR Industries, DANA Corporation, Freudenberg-NOK, and Parker Hanifin Corporation to name a few.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

TPE/POM adhesion critical in German award-winning eyewear

In a new example, Kraiburg (Waldkraiburg, Germany) says that its TPE is now being used in the earpieces of uvex pheos safety glasses.

"We have been working together with KraiburgTPE successfully for ten years," says Harald Frank, product

group manager at uvex. "In the past, we used TPE in our safety spectacles primarily for seals and end elements. Now, for the first time, we have added a soft component to the earpiece. The result is quite attractive and recently even received the iF product design award 2012."

Established in 1953 in Germany, the iF award recognizes innovative product design. The new safety eyewear was also named "2012 Product of the Year" for plastics consumer products by the German Association of the Plastics Manufacturing Industry.

Judges noted that the glasses fit the face well and have flexible side arms with variable inclination that can be individually adjusted. An integrated "Softflex" zone means that the side arms adapt to different head widths. The soft TPE ear pieces and the Softflex zone at the temples help improve fit.

The ear piece is manufactured with two- component injection molding. One of the keys was working out optimal processing conditions that would allow good adhesion to polyoxymethylene (POM).

Frank said that the goal of the development engineers was to introduce lightweight safety spectacles with a sporty design that offered optimum protection and high wearing comfort. He said that the two-colored earpiece boosted stylishness of the glasses. 

One of the reasons that TPEs and other polyolefins are advancing in health-related fields is their environmental profile.  They are free of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates and allergens and are RoHS and REACH compliant.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gammaflux introduces new G24 hot runner temperature control system

Designed for use on injection moulding applications, the G24 hot runner temperature control system is also suitable for applications such as controlling thermoforming, blow moulding and extrusion.

The G24 system combines the best attributes of existing LEC and TTC hot runner temperature controls including the Triangulated Control Technology for sensing, controlling and actuating.

Key features of G24 hot runner temperature control system:

    User-friendly operation with minimal operator training required
    Programmable to automatically operate according to industry’s best practices
    Leverages the global electronics supply chain and uses fewer components to reduce cost
    48% smaller footprint than the TTC product line
    Each control module has a 15 amp per zone rating, and up to 24 zones can be placed in a single control block
    Uses an industrial USB connectivity for a 0.1 second screen update rate
    On-screen interlock signal inversion and manual testing signals prevent bad parts from being produced
    plastic injection mould makerMould Doctor automated mould troubleshooting system diagnoses elusive problems with quantitative thermodynamic zone performance
   plastic injection mould maker Early material/ plastics leak detection with alarm alerting the user immediately to reduce downtime

Gammaflux specialises in the production of hot runner controls for the plastic injection moulding industry.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Research and Markets: The Global Powder Injection Molding Market to Grow

One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the need to reduce product manufacturing costs. The Global Powder Injection Molding market has also been witnessing the development of next-generation products by the vendors. However, increasing price wars among competitors could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.

Key vendors dominating this market space include Kinetics Climax Inc., Philips-Medisize Corp., and Plastic Products Co., Inc.

TechNavio today launched its report Global Powder Injection Molding Market 2011-2015 based on an in-depth study covering the Americas, and EMEA and the APAC regions. The report aims to aid decision makers' understanding of the significant trends impacting this market.

Commenting on the report, an analyst from TechNavio's Engineering team said; The Global Powder Injection Molding (PIM) market is witnessing a large number of customers starting to invest in commercialized custom PIM machines. The market vendors are nowadays developing application-specific PIM products to meet specific customer application requirements as the market is highly volatile as a result of the global recession. For instance, the Healthcare industry has no relation with the global recession. Thus, many vendors have started focusing on developing medical application-specific PIM products.

According to the report, PIM enables cost-effective manufacturing by reducing overall manufacturing costs and several applications costs. Therefore, manufacturing companies adopt PIM to improve their product development cycles in a cost-effective manner.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Clariant Helps Brands Go Green with Sustainable Colors

As brand owners and packaging producers strive to reach sustainability goals profitably, Clariant made it a priority to develop solutions involving recycled, renewable and biodegradable materials, as well as technologies to help reduce material use and energy consumption through its Masterbatches.

“Major consumer brand companies are aggressively seeking ways to improve the environmental profile of plastics packaging, especially if they can do so while maintaining profitability," observed Alessandra Funcia, global head of segment packaging for Clariant. "We try to work with our customers and show them several different ways to realize their objectives and we always provide a complete business case analysis for the total package, including materials, manufacturing efficiency, productivity,plastic injection mould maker etc."

In conventional materials or in biopolymers, foaming has the potential to yield many environmental benefits, including reducing overall resin usage and weight—in some cases by up to 30 percent—often with no loss of physical properties, mechanical performance or appearance, even in challenging applications. For instance, when black, navy and other darker colors are used in injection-molded polypropylene, HYDROCEROL? chemical foaming agents plus Clariant-optimized molding conditions make it possible to achieve a smooth, glossy surface finish. This is an important improvement over the matte finishes and frosted looks that compromised critical appearance parts.

Material savings is not the only benefit. Lighter weight packaging is easier to transport so shipping costs and fuel consumption can be reduced.

In processing, HYDROCEROL reduces the melt viscosity of the base resin, allowing for faster extrusion rates and reduced cooling time, both of which contribute to shorter cycle times and, ultimately, lower energy costs and higher productivity.

Liquid or Solid

Most of Clariant's products can be supplied in traditional solid masterbatch form or using new liquid vehicle technology (LVT), which can offer significant sustainability and economic advantages in many applications. Liquid masterbatches disperse readily through the polymer matrix so, in some colors, the amount of colorant needed to achieve the desired look can be cut by 50 percent or more. This is especially true for translucent or transparent colors in clear polymers like PET, polyethylene and polypropylene. Liquids can be metered very precisely, eliminating the risk to over-saturating the color. When it comes time to change from one liquid color to another or from liquid color to solid, the switch can be made in a fraction of the time it takes to purge solid color from the processing machine so less scrap is generated. Liquid masterbatches can also be formulated so that they actually improve the flow of the polymer, resulting in faster fill times and shorter injection molding cycles, as well as improved extrusion throughput or lower required screw speeds.

As interest in biopolymers—plastics like polylactic acid (PLA) made from corn, sugar, starch and other natural raw materials—continues to grow, Clariant has been developing color and additive products for these renewable materials. RENOL?-natur masterbatches combine all-natural colorants with biopolymer carrier systems to provide a completely renewable and biodegradable solution.

More recently, Clariant introduced another option for biopolymer products and packaging, which offers a broader choice of colors and additive functionality. New RENOL-compostable and CESA-compostable masterbatches meet recognized U.S. and European standards for compostability and ecotoxicity, including the harmonized EN 13432:2000 standard. Yet, because they incorporate conventional (non-natural) additives and pigments, the new masterbatches may be more economical and process- and light-stable in some packaging applications.

Making it easier for customers to use more post-consumer recycled (PCR) material, Clariant has developed masterbatches specially formulated to work with the slightly off-color PCR resins available. Recycled polyolefin plastic, for instance, normally has a grayish cast that can mute the overall impact of color in these materials. Using ENIGMA? color and effects technology,plastic injection mould manufacturer designers can create packaging that not only has a better environmental profile, but also is attractive enough to compete for the consumer’s attention on store shelves.

 PET is one of the most commonly recycled materials but it is also highly vulnerable to thermal, oxidative and hydrolytic degradation, which results in loss of molecular weight and deterioration of processing properties. Clariant’s CESA-extend additive masterbatches, however, can repair polymer chains that have broken due to degradation, allowing the recycled material to be used in higher-value applications including sheet and bottles.

CESA-extend is also being used in PLA biopolymer film and foamed sheet to reduce material consumption, create a lighter weight end product, and improve performance properties. Even in its virgin state, PLA is inherently low in melt strength. As it does in recycled PET, CESA-extend can improve the melt strength of PLA during extrusion, resulting in a larger more stable film bubble even at higher line speeds. The additive masterbatch also has been found to allow development of smaller and more resilient foam cells when used in the production of foamed PLA sheet.

“It is important to remember that none of this technology is important if it cannot be used in a way that yields a product that the market will accept and purchase," Funcia said. "We are eager to partner with brand owners and major packaging converters in new application research any so that, together, we can make sustainability not only responsible but also profitable."