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Attendance at K'89 exceeds a quarter of a million.


The message from last month's K'89 - the world's largest plastic and rubber exposition, with 260,000 visitors and 2174 exhibitors spread over 16 halls - is "think small." Industry forecasts for the 1990s expect most of the growth to come from niche markets that require comparatively short production runs, more specialty resins, and "just-in-time" manufacturing. Processors must therefore be highly flexible, and, if the machinery on view at K'89, in Dusseldorf, West Germany, is any indication, this will be accomplished with smaller machines operating with higher levels of automation. Not that larger machines were neglected, but all came with optional quick mold change, built-in SPC/SQC, and advanced robotics for added flexibility.

Indeed, at K'89, Battenfeld of America announced plans for the world's largest-capacity injection molding machine. The 9000-ton clamp force giant will be operated by Cascade Engineering of Flint, Mich., which also did preliminary CAD on the product - 2-cubic-yard, HMW-HDPE containers for Waste Management Inc. For the flexibility to produce smaller 95-gal containers, its tandem design incorporates two 4500-ton machines, two different robots, but one Unilog 9000 computer-control system. Wolfgang Meyer, Battenfeld of America's president, commented that in a reversal of company policy, the machine will be designed and built in the U.S., but he would not disclose development costs, saying only that they will be "above the industry rule of thumb of $500/ton."

Although the main topic of conversation was the astounding events in East Germany that were concurrently taking place, integration was a buzzword at K'89, constantly arising in many discussions about the 1992 unification of the European Community and its ramifications for U.S. business. However, for machinery producers and designers, integration is the key word in computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM). Now that the relatively simple task of adding computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), i.e., numerical control of automatic machining operations, is well under way, the prodigious tasks of CIM, entailing plant-wide integration of processes and operator-manager interfaces, are being started. Smaller, more flexible machines and quicker quick-mold-change setups were exhibited, as well as larger machines that promise faster cycle times for large parts. But the most progress toward actual CIM was shown, as it must be, in the increased sophistication of both the hardware and software of the control systems. Powerful control modules are now capable of maintaining machine setpoints within such narrow tolerances that 100% good parts are guaranteed, while relaying ever more data to the host computer for further data reduction and integration with operations in attempt to achieve the optimal flow of materials with the maximum flexibility.


One of the most popular displays was Krauss-Maffei's automatic compact disc manufacturing cell. In an area about the size of a grand piano, the discs were injection molded, and with two robots, removed from the mold, tested, coated with metal, labeled, and neatly stacked for packaging. Nearby, a KM 2300-11500 M was quietly producing bumpers. The modular M-series machines range from 10,000 to 36,000 kN, offer a choice of eight clamping and seven injection units with three injection units available for each clamp-force size and four plasticizing units for each injection unit. Designed for quiet operation, the units are under MC3 microprocessor control and have a pV-closed-loop control system, and several modifications are claimed to give high precision regardless of speed.

Krauss-Maffei's start toward CIM is COSMOS, for Central Online Supervising Machinery Operating System, based on AT-compatible PCs enhanced with plug-in cards linked to a central computer. In conjunction with MC2 and MC3 control systems that may be linked directly to the host computer, COSMOS software automatically logs all operating data and functions, production and quality data, offers order acquisition, and prepares computer-calculated mold design data and transmits it directly to the machine. The PUC 04 VME process computer is the heart of the updated RIM machines. It logs and processes data and takes over open-and closed-loop control of the machine so that the operator only has to input the setpoints. A new, patented mixing head, designed to give less fiber damage, was also introduced in a RRIM plant on display.

A new injection molding technique, and a machine to do it on, were introduced. The technique is Hettinga Equipment's answer to gas-assisted injection molding, a process that Hettinga contends yields stressed parts with variable wall thicknesses as a result of the chilling of the materials by the nitrogen gas used to form the hollow core. Hettinga's process - under development for years but whose computer control was perfected just in time for K'89 - involves low pressure injection of a liquid blowing agent that releases carbon dioxide when heated in the mold. This gives a fine, cellular core under a tough, smooth wall of consistent thickness, resulting in an up to 50% lightweighted part with amazing strength. Hettinga claims that truck beds and floors made by this technique from polypropylene are under consideration. The "Little Giant" machine, while hardly imposing, can mold parts in the 12.5- to 50-kg range.

Welex showed its new high-barrier polyester packaging sheet extrusion line, consisting of two 90-mm, 30D and two 65-mm 30D Mark II extruders with integral gear pumps, tied together in a new Welex DB (Double Barrier) feed block that is capable of producing sheet with up to 11 layers, all under control by the new Ultima II microprocessor. It features a touch-screen interface, color graphics, and system-trending capability. The new sheet takeoff design has three 450-mm primary rolls for close approach to the die and three 600-mm secondary rolls with thin walls to maximize heat transfer.

Bekum showed that blowmolders can also be flexible by introducing a highspeed mold changing system that can make a complete mold change on a single-station machine in 17 min. Three new microprocessor-based control systems for automated operation offer user-friendly operation, self-diagnosis, and interfaces for SPC and production monitoring systems. The new RBU 225 reheat stretch blowmolding machine for 0.2- to 3-liter PET bottles has all snap-on couplings, allowing production batch changeover in less than one hour, provided that neck diameter is identical.

A big hit with local gardeners was the production of 5-liter watering cans by the Bi-Ex process on the new BA 14 machine. The Bi-Ex process produces a 3-layer parison, the inner and outer layers from virgin material for optimum surface finish and color, and the middle layer, 80% of the part, out of reclaim. The BA 14 features a redesigned clamping system that keeps clamping force to a minimum, an integrated punching station that deflashes moldings, and, for maintaining high production rates, a device for cooling particularly hot areas of the molding. The Bi-Ex process and a new in-mold labeling system were shown in 1-liter tapered bottle production on the BM 602 D machine, capable of a 1000-bottle/hr rate. High-speed mold change and open- and closed-loop microprocessor control are standard on the BM series.

Sidel showed its new design for short production runs, the SBO 4R blowmolding machine for 0.25- to 3-liter bioriented PET bottles. Sidel's smallest machine, it is a fully automatic, 4-mold rotary machine engineered for quick mold changeover-claimed to be within 10 min.

Buss took a systems approach, displaying their Kneaders in several new configurations. In the cascade configuration for compounding both PVC and thermoplastic cable formulations, a pelletizing extruder follows the kneader. A kneader in combination with a polymer pump is recommended for intensive compounding of blends and alloys. A special easy-to-operate and easy-to-install kneader system for laboratory and pilot plant powder coating production was also shown. Buss touted a new customer service (also a buzzword at K'89) package featuring three free diagnoses including one just before the warranty expires to help their customers avoid Murphy's Law.

Recycling was also a buzzword at K'89 - many large manufacturers offered machines capable of handling reclaimed material, e.g., Bekum's Bi-Ex systems. FBM (Fabrica Bondenese Machine) of Ferrara, Italy, exhibited lines for reprocessing scrap. Two lines came with a granulator, a combined storage silo and force feeder for a double-vented extruder equipped with a manual or hydraulic screen changer and a die face cutter for pelletizing. A mini line for PE film scrap was shown without the feeder.


Monsanto announced at K'89 its acquisition of Bayer's Levaflex TPE technology. Based on the original Uniroyal patents for partially cured vulcanizates, Bayer had developed electron-beam-cured grades to meet the European specification for high temperature use in wire and cable and also grades for electrical use. The acquisition will increase Monsanto's European sales by 20% to 25% and strengthen its position in the German automotive market. Products introduced by Monsanto included new grades of Triax 1000 polyamide/ABS alloys that offer better heat performance and stiffness to go with their previously claimed outstanding toughness, chemical resistance, and processability. Applications are seen for industrial parts and power tools, garden equipment, appliances, and sporting goods. A new sound-deadening grade of Santoprene TPR for the automotive market, when molded into a clean air duct, gave a 3-dB reduction in noise transmission compared to ducts molded from other TPEs. Additives introduced include Elix EX 3610, a polymer modifier said to give the highest-ever heat resistance to transparent PVC, and improved versions of their rubber accelerators, antidegradants, and antioxidants.

The first products from a Degussa-Dow joint venture were shown - extruded transparent and colored polycarbonate panels, some with modified surfaces. Also introduced by Degussa were clear acrylic traffic noise insulation panels with cast-in plastic threads that prevent shattering and keep birds from flying in. Degussa chemical products new at K'89 included transparent conductive coatings for plastic parts that provide electromagnetic screening and ESD protection with obvious applications for CRT displays; aqueous acrylate dispersions as binding agents for lacquers, paints, and stains; and two epoxy adhesives - one rapid for cold-setting applications and the other with a high viscosity, suitable for SMC, FRP, and hard plastics.

Akzo, a manufacturer of both fibers and resins, combined their products in a display of advanced composites. High performance parts and laminates made with new grades of carbon and aramid fibers were shown as well as glass-, carbon-, and aramid-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic prepregs in sheet and tape form. New resins for the electrical/electronic markets included nonreinforced and glass-fiber-reinforced grades of nylons 6 and 66 that are heat stabilized and self-extinguishing, and glass-fiber-reinforced grades of PBT that are said to give an improved surface appearance. New resins for the automotive market offer high stiffness and temperature resistance, and in some cases, toughness and improved surface quality. They include highly filled nylon 66 and nylon 6/66 copolymers and glass-fiber-reinforced, mineral-filled and unfilled PETs. New coatings for plastics include a no-flame primer for polyolefins, a barrier coating that prevents solvent popping on SMC and BMC parts and is also available in a stone-chipping-resistant formula, and a water-based one-coat system for electronic equipment.

BFGoodrich's Geon Vinyl Div. unveiled several new versions of their specialty - PVC alloys. Geon HTX resins are initially targeted for business machine housings because of higher heat distortion temperatures than standard rigid PVCs, inherent flame retardance, and ability to be molded in a variety of surface finishes. Polytron polymers combine PVC with intrinsically conductive copolymers for good ESD characteristics without need of moisture, and, BFGoodrich claims, they can be reprocessed with minimal degradation of ESD effectiveness. Flexel TPEs are for use in flexible products with combustion resistance. Initial grades are for the wire and cable market, but uses in upholstery and trim, such as mass transit seating, are projected.

Rohm and Haas' new Paraloid impact modifiers covered a range of polymers: the acrylic KM 334 S for weather resistance and easier processing of PVC building products; EXL 3000 and 4000 series for packaging products - the 3000 for low temperature toughness of CPET and the 4000 for thermal and stiffness enhancement of engineering polymers; and the acrylic EXL 8887 XP with reactive functionality for nylons 6 and 66, said to provide substantially improved toughness.

New pigments from Ciba-Geigy include a metal-free pigment for dark-silk luster shades, a series of organic reds said to provide the high opacity and brilliance of the cadmium reds, and an azocondensation brown claimed to have superior weather resistance over mixed-metal oxides in rigid PVC.

Union Carbide's introductions focused on polyolefins. The new Ucarsil FR series allows compounding of halogen-free flame retardants at high loadings, e.g. 70% ATH, without sacrificing properties or processability. The Ucarsil PA-1 surface-active organosilicon series, already proven in LLDPE applications, improved HDPE processability as well. A new family of silane crosslinkers for polyethylene and its copolymers offers better processability, surface finish, and grafting efficiency.


D-M-E's new products continued the drive toward CIM with enhanced flexibility. A computer interface module, for connecting a temperature control system to a computer, collects vital information and controls alarms and machine parameters. A microprocessor-based temperature control module, which can operate in CIM or stand-alone, offers advanced control and diagnostics. For improved efficiency and precision, D-M-E showed the latest updates in its cold-manifold runnerless technology; the Osco valve gate system for control of cavity fill, part mass, and pressure; the Gate Mate nozzle hot sprue bushing system, said to eliminate gate marks and cold sprues; as well as ejector pin and sleeve machining equipment and a 8-channel portable process recorder.

Hasco exhibited its substantially extended range of standards for molds and dies. Featured were new types of high-performance nozzles with a central material channel made of special molybdenum alloy for processing compounds with chemically and mechanically aggressive additives, and maintenance-free guide elements made from a special bronze with temperature-resistant solid lubrication deposits. In cooperation with the Institut fur Kunststoffverarbeitung (IKV) of Aachen, West Germany, updated Hasco CAD/CAM/CIM technology was demonstrated in a continuous molding operation, where material was injected without sprues, the process was monitored automatically, and the parts were robot-assembled.

Meyercord presented its new heat transfer process for decorating blow-molded containers. The company, which develops its own proprietary inks and adhesives as well as manufacturing heat transfers, displayed its line of nontoxic, metal-free inks. Applications to virtually any material or surface are claimed. Visitors were invited to bring their substrates to the booth for a free evaluation.

The latest in measuring equipment from Brabender included the Data Processing Plasti-Corder PL 2000, a computerized torque rheometer system consisting of a dynamometer with electronic torque measurement, data transfer interface, and IBM PS/2. Other units shown were a fully computerized automatic torsional tester for determining viscoelastic behavior over a -180 [degrees] C to 400 [degrees] C range; a conical twin-screw extruder for studying the extrudability of polymers best processed on such equipment; and a computer-controlled blown film test setup, fed by a bypass off the production extruder feed, for continuous polymer quality control.

Very much on display at K'89 were new control systems, tailored to individual processes, that promised to improve product quality while increasing both efficiency and flexibility. Inoex's extrusion control systems featured a gaging system for mono- and coextruded blown film that offers digital readout and a microcomputer interface; a profile extrusion system with a non-contact optical measuring head for continuous quality monitoring and automatic correction of profile deviation; an expandable automation system for pipe production that combines gravimetric through-put recording with a patented ultrasonic calibration system for wall thickness control; a coextrusion system that combines high-accuracy weighing hoppers and a 16-bit automation station to maintain a 0.3% weighing and layer thickness accuracy; and a gravimetric control system for computer-controlled extrusion.

Aeonic Systems demonstrated the CIMLINE system, a VAX-based, CIM system for measurement and linewide control of plastics film and sheet extrusion, calendering, coating, and lamination. It integrates plant and office for extended management control and enhanced plant-wide productivity.

No CAD system is complete without an up-to-date materials database. Many producers exhibited versions of their product databases, all based on the new CAPS system, developed and demonstrated by Polydata. The CAPS system contains information on over 5000 grades of thermoplastics from 65 producers and has provision for an on-line updating system. Also shown was a new applications-based PC database system, developed in cooperation with car manufacturers.

Haake's latest instruments included a computer-controlled torque rheometer that comes with a multitude of components for testing flow properties up to 500 [degrees] C and a complete IBM AT-compatible data acquisition, control, and display system. The CV20 N rotational measurement system extends the Rotovisco RV 20 viscometer series to the determination of flow and thixotropic properties, yield points, and G(*), G', and G" parameters. The Defo-Elastomer measures both the viscosity and elasticity of elastomer samples, a new fogging tester quantitatively measures the evaporation of volatile components, and a new rotational viscometer, designed for quality control, comes with a variety of sensor systems for various ASTM tests.

The French Rabourdin group demonstrated its new complete graphics software for mold design. Starting with a library of standard mold components, it calculates shrinkage, automatically designs and assembles the block and cooling circuits, and lists hot channel components and other parts. A new hot runner system for large parts such as bumpers and chairs was also shown. It is externally heated, not affected by heat expansion, and quick color changes and no leakages are guaranteed.

Foam producers can boost their productivity with the Foamline 2000 CAD/CAM contour cutter demonstrated by Moldex, Martin Wieser. Patterns are drawn directly on the computer screen, stock cut with a click of the mouse, and the patterns stored on 3.5-in discs for recall. For all processors, a new patented self-contained deduster, claimed to eliminate 99.99% of contaminants from plastic pellets, was exhibited. A magnetic flux field generator dissipates the static electricity binding the fines to the pellets, a pressure blower provides the necessary fluidizing, wash, and venturi air flow, and the dust-laden air is removed by a vacuum system.


A simple calculation shows that an individual who is grimly determined to visit every exhibit, and willing to work at it for the full 9 hrs/day for the 8-day run, would have 1.99 min/booth. Scarcely enough time for the most modest exhibit, it certainly wouldn't do for the giant German chemical companies, which seemingly displayed products made from every one of their resins and elastomers. And it would only be enough time for one or two cycles of many of the machines in operation. And certainly not enough time if the determined visitor waited in line with other visitors, mostly young, for the "hot-off-the-press" souvenirs ranging from toothbrushes to chairs. If K'89 inspired even a small fraction of those visitors to seek a career in plastics, German industry will be staffed for many years to come.

The fact is that the growth in K'89 over K'86 mirrors the 3-year growth in the plastics industry - an 18% increase in trade visitors, more than 50% from outside Germany, and a 25% growth in exhibitors, 52% from outside Germany. The industry is evidently becoming more global, and not just in the huge multinational corporations, but in the smaller companies, which have historically led the way in the innovation of new products. And yet whole areas of the globe were scarcely represented at K'89. Hall 16 was built to house the K'89's increase. Let's hope that Messe Dusseldorf - the show administration - will have to build Hall 17 for K'92 to accommodate freemarket entrepreneurs from Eastern Europe and China.

PHOTO : Visitors passing through the main lobby on their way to the exhibit halls.

PHOTO : Krauss-Maffei's Orion mold carrier was part of their RRIM plant.

PHOTO : The "Little Giant" injection molding machine is used in Hettinga's new process for making lightweighted parts with foam cores and tough skins.

PHOTO : Welex's new coextrusion sheet line has integral gear pumps on the extruders, the Welex Double Barrier feed block, and Ultima II microprocessor. The new sheet takeoff design is not shown.

PHOTO : High-speed mold change and open-and closed-loop microprocessor control are standard on Bekum's BM series high-capacity blowmolding machines.

PHOTO : Buss's MDK/P 140 compounding system for blends and alloys has a size 140 kneader and polymer pump. Production rate is 600 to 1200 kg/hr.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Society of Plastics Engineers, Inc.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber
Author:Kates, David F.
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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