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2013 was a big year for machine launches - which is to be expected in a K year. Nevertheless, there were more than a few surprises along the way.
Right at the beginning of the year, Haitian gave its ‘Jupiter II’ series a relatively soft launch, making it available on the market right away. The series was essentially a re-design and re-launch of the Jupiter machine concept, with the new range aimed at saving space whilst tackling some technical drawbacks of the original series.
A key revision was the mould locking system; on Jupiter II, the new parallel locking system between the tie-bars and the platen permits a much faster tool change, and greater precision.
Though already on the market, the machine didn’t make its international debut until Chinaplas in May, with European orders reportedly already on the books. Then, to show the machine off at K, the series was refined even further with the addition of a smaller 5500 size. Haitian claims at least 200 Jupiter II machines have been ordered globally in the first year, with the first European installation, a JUII18500, announced at the plant of Paneltim in Belgium, destined to mould large sandwich panels.
On the home-front, Engel also revitalised an existing series in-time for K, with the addition of a new machine in its all-electric e-motion range, announced in June. The compact 30-tonne version comes tie-bar-less - a decision based on the group’s success with the mechanics of tie-bar-less machines in its e-victory series.
As with Haitian, a re-think of design and structure were key factors during development. e-motion 30 TL uses an ‘intelligent’ frame concept, offering an even clamping force across the platen. The machine comes equipped with the in-line injection unit 50, which now delivers an injection speed of 800 mm/s.
Small electronic components are an obvious application for a machine of this size, though Engel says the machine has advantages for a range of processes requiring low clamping forces.
Similarly, Netstal had some new launches at K 2013, one of which, like Engel, came from combining existing elements from across its range. The Evos 4500 was displayed for the first time configured with the group’s hydraulic Eco Powerunit drive. In conjunction with a variable speed synchronous motor, the Eco Powerunit drive is said to be more adaptable to specific cycle requirements, and Netstal claims that with certain applications, the configuration can offer up to 30% in energy savings.
It hasn’t just been an exciting year in injection moulding, either. One of the most talked-about unveilings at the K Show was Erema’s new ‘Intarema’ recycling line - which was serenaded by impressive jazz quartet ‘Hot Sax’. Launch festivities aside, the Intarema comes across as a genuinely fresh look at recycling machinery.
The group has traced the design all the way back to the material intake stage, which is where the system is really special. In Erema’s previous designs, material in the cutter/compactor turned forwards, in the direction of the current from the extruder. By simply reversing the direction of the material in-feed, the group says it has created a major impact on the rest of the process.
The relative speed of the material in the intake zone builds to such an extent that the extruder acts as a sharp edge, literally cutting the plastic as it enters. Thus, the extruder can handle more material in a shorter time. Output remains high, even with a considerably broader temperature range in the cutter/compactor than may be found in earlier systems.
Blow moulders too had their fair share of new equipment on the market, not-least of which was the all-electric KBB series of machines from Kautex. The real innovation here comes from the movements of the machine, which have been made faster, thereby reducing down-time.
However, the faster actions don’t drain power, Kautex says - the moving parts have been re-designed using lighter materials, making for more efficient movements. In addition, a new system for faster, simpler mould-changes has been implemented, as well as the ability to make changes to machine settings without stopping the machine.
And finally, the launch that few would have missed this year - sitting on the outer periphery of the plastic processing sector - Arburg’s ‘Freeformer’ machine based on additive manufacturing. Or as Arburg have branded it, Arburg Plastic Freeforming. Much has already been written on the - undoubtedly innovative - Freeformer, which also launched at K, in spectacular fashion. It left audiences wondering, what is the next step for plastics machinery?
2014 will, no doubt give us some unexpected developments, perhaps in injection moulding, perhaps in other fields. The January/February joint issue of EPPM next year will include insight from some thought-leaders in injection moulding, who will give their take on what the future holds.