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News

Husky demonstrates packaging expertise at open house

Husky Injection Molding Systems : 30 October, 2006  (Company News)
The use of plastics in packaging will grow to more than 50% by the year 2009, according to a recent survey by Mastio and Co. With average annual growth of 5% in most of the major rigid packaging sectors, Husky is focusing its efforts to capture more of this key market.
'Husky has driven innovation in the packaging industry for more than 50 years,' Bruce Catoen, Husky's Vice President of Packaging, said. 'With our first packaging machines and molds in the 1960's, we pushed the envelope of parts per hour and delivered the lowest part cost solutions. Today, innovation is even more important in this ultra competitive market. We invited companies in the industry to our Packaging Days events at our Luxembourg Technical Center to show them our newest innovations, discuss the emerging market trends and brainstorm future equipment requirements.'

As part of the week-long event, Husky showed 10 innovative systems in operation. In partnership with automation suppliers and mold makers, these systems demonstrated state-of-the-art molding of thinwall parts, closures, lids, in-mold labeling and returnable packaging.

More value between the tie bars
'Traditionally, our customer base competed on improved output per capital (parts per hour divided by capital invested). By simply putting more cavities between the tie bars and running the system faster, a molder could keep reducing costs,' Catoen said. 'We believe the limits of how many parts can be put into a given platen space has been reached. Some molders are running 4 level molds and 200 cavities. The key to competing in this market is molding high-cavitation efficiently plus adding more value between the tie bars.'

Light-weighting has always been a key component to reducing part cost in the packaging industry as it represents more than two-thirds of the part's cost. However, in the early 1990's the limits of light-weighting were reached with existing technology. Now that resin prices have peaked to all-time highs, new pressure to light-weight parts is emerging. Customers now need a higher level of equipment performance to compete in this market.

Husky reviewed developments in machine and hot runner technology to mold lighter parts faster than ever before.

'It's not just a machine issue,' Catoen said. 'The machine and hot runner should be viewed as a complete melt conveyance system. Neglecting to consider all the factors in delivering a melted pellet to the gate of an injection mold at the right rheology is really sub-optimizing the process. Once the complete system was considered, new opportunities emerged. Since no other equipment supplier delivers both the hot runner and the machine we had a unique opportunity to optimize the entire system.'

Advancements in closure molds
Husky, along with partners KTW and Corvaglia, demonstrated recent advancements in speed and cavitation running closure molds. Average cavitation has moved from 48 up to 72 cavities in recent years, while the cycle times have gone down 25%.

One key to successful molding at high cavitations is hot runner balance. Husky showed a recent study of a 72-cavity closure mold that achieved 80% balance at 80% filling.

'As cavitation increased balanced filling became critical,' says Jean-Michel Cunche Husky's Hot Runner Market Manager for closures in Europe. 'If the hot runner is not balanced part tolerances cannot be met, parts do not eject symmetrically and mold life decreases. The hot runner has to be both thermally and geometrically balanced when you have such small parts.'

Many closure molders also need to change colors frequently. Husky's new UltraFlow tip technology has reduced color change times by orders of magnitude.

'Some customers were taking two hours to change colors and consuming large quantities of resin. Our new nozzle reduces this to less than 15 minutes and cuts scrap resin by four times,' says Cunche.

New benchmark for IML molding
Molding lighter parts, faster is all good and fine but Husky and its partners also demonstrated opportunities for traditional molders to move up their customers' value chain by doing more between the tie bars. From in-mold assembly, to post-mold assembly and in-mold labeling, Husky and its partners gave their customer base live demonstrations of how to add value in the injection molding process.

In one example, Husky and Systec teamed up to develop a lightning quick in-mold labeling system for a 5-sided rectangular container. Running at 2.3 seconds this 2-cavity system reduces the benchmark for IML molding by more than 30%.

Based on 'SwingChute' in-mold handling technology this system inserts a label on a rotating swing arm while simultaneously removing the molded parts with another arm on the opposite side of the machine.

'Using SwingChute technology has virtually eliminated mold open time,' Jim Overbeeke, Husky's Thinwall Business Manager, said. 'Mold open time constitutes a significant portion of processing time on today's IML automation systems. Eliminating this time drastically affects the entire process cycle.'

Tandem for returnable packaging
Another highlight of Packaging Days was Husky's Tandem technology, which allows the simultaneous operation of two standard molds on a single Quadloc machine. Initially developed for automotive applications - the 13,500 kN machine displayed was equipped with automotive door panel molds- the Tandem technology is finding a growing acceptance in returnable packaging applications such as crates and pallets.

'Our Tandem approach to molding larger packaging articles essentially doubles the output of a single machine,' Karl-Heinz Hoefert, Sales Manager for Husky Machines in Europe, said. 'With the trend for larger volumes molded in consolidated operations, our packaging customers asked us to design larger Tandem configurations for pallets and lids, which we did with our 20,000 kN and 27,000 kN models.'

Catoen stated that Packaging Days was just a glimpse of what is to come from Husky in the packaging market.

'We have tremendous knowledge and experience in this growing market,' Catoen said. 'We are applying significant resources to developing game-changing solutions specifically for packaging.'
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