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Before you leave for Chicago.

Automated Molding

& Assembly System

One of the more elaborate "hands-off" automation exhibits at NPE will be the "NIAS" Nissei Injection and Assembly Line System (photo, right) from Nissei Plastic Industrial Co., Ltd. of Japan (represented here by Nissei America, Inc., Fullerton, Calif.). First shown at the JP '90 show in Tokyo last fall, the system combines three injection machines, five robots, hot stamping, and automatic mold changing to mold, assemble and package two different sets of two screwdrivers on a JIT basis (see diagram).

Tiebar-less Insert

Molders

An entirely new line of vertical-clamp insert molders (below) with shuttle and rotary tables is being introduced at the show by Engel Canada Inc., Guelph, Ontario. This new line, from 25, to 200 tons, has an extremely rigid clamp module with a new bridge-type construction that reduces deflection to an absolute minimum, according to the company. Elimination of tiebars provides ready access to the mold area. Large opening stroke eases part removal and permits use of larger molds with greater stack height.

For extremely sensitive mold protection, Engel has introduced a new hydraulic control circuit to counterbalance the force of gravity on the moving platen. Also, the moving platten is supported by linear guides throughout the entire stroke, further assisting mold protection.

The horizonal injection unit is based on Engel's new small-machine design, which features dedicated pressure- and flow-control valves for all functions, compact manifolding, and short hydraulic connections between valves and actuators. The result is said to be exceptional response. Location of the nozzle center is adjustable.

Either Engel's EC 88 multi-processor control or CC90 color-graphic CRT station is available. A handheld HBG remote-control keypad with LCD display is handy for mold setup. These are supported by servovalve and proportional hydraulics and energy-saving variable-volume pumps. (CIRCLE 71)

New 75-Ton Press

Jaco Manufacturing, Berea, Ohio, will introduce its new 75-ton, Jaco III-H-75 horizontal-clamp injection molder. The unit, with a base price of $55,000, features a PLC sequencer. (CIRCLE 72)

Wide-Platen Molder

Ube Industries America Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., will unveil its new Ubemax PZII 1000-ton toggle press with wide platens as standard equipment. The molder also comes equipped with new Ube 1200A computer controls. (CIRCLE 73)

Presses From

Hong Kong

NPE '91 will be an opportunity to find out about Mechantronic toggle presses from Tat Ming Engineering Works Ltd. of Hong Kong. The company builds microprocessor-controlled machines of 75, 125, 175, 225, 300 and 425 tons, each with a choice of one or two injection units. Shot sizes range from 3.5 to 42 oz and tiebar spacing from 13 x 13 in. to 25.4 x 27.3 in.

Standard features include nitrided barrel and screw, three stages each of injection speed and pressure, low-temperature start protection, adjustable backpressure control, preset cycle-number control, cast platens, chrome-plated tiebars, hydraulic ejector with multiple-knockout function, triple-interlocked safety gate, hydraulic die-height adjustment, and vertical double toggles with hardened pins and bushings. Advanced MA series has electro-hydraulic proportional-valve control of pressure and flow. Controls have a sealed membrane touchpanel with LED display. (CIRCLE 74)

Super-Small

Hot Runners

A completely new line of miniature hot-runner systems (below) for direct gating of small parts with standard thermoplastics will be introduced at NPE by Mold-Masters Ltd., Georgetown, Ontario. The Mini-Probe line has an extremely narrow nozzle body for nozzle spacing of only 3/4 in. The nozzle has an integral 12-v heater, metallurgically fused into the nozzle body throughout the probe to within 1/8 in. of the tip, eliminating oxidation and air gaps, which are common causes of heater fatigue and failure.

Despite the small body diameter of the Mini-Probe, the annular flow channel around the heater is almost 1/4 in. wide. Heater-element windings inside the nozzle are distributed so as to provide extra heat in mold-contact areas in order to provide a uniform temperature profile along the melt-flow path. Watt-density is 170-200 [w/in..sup.3.], depending on nozzle length. Tests indicate that the probe can reach 500 F from room temperature in well under 1 min.

Each probe is controlled by a J-type thermocouple inside the nozzle near the gate. Temperature control is provided by the new generation of ScanMaster controllers. Mini-Probes are available in various hot-tip (including "angled" tip) and hot-edge configurations. (CIRCLE 75)

New and Improved

Control Systems

Allen-Bradley Co., Highland Heights, Ohio, is introducing several new products at NPE '91. Look for Proset 600 Injection Molding Operator Interface Software, an update of the Proset 500 package. It's said to give OEMs and rebuilders the ability to easily and quickly create an operator interface to Allen-Bradley PLC-based injection machine control systems. (CIRCLE 76)

Also new from Allen-Bradley is the 1771-SPI Protocol Interface Module. It's said to allow Allen-Bradley PLCs to interface with any type of SPI-compatible peripheral equipment.

Allen-Bradley is also introducing the 1771-QDC/A Plastic Molding Module. This close-loop control system features an Expert Response Compensation (ERC) feature that provides it with continuous and automatic "learning" capability. ERC learning is said to allow the 1771-QDC/A to automatically compensate for variation in the molding process without user intervention. (CIRCLE 77)

Allen-Bradley is also introducing the Data Set Setpoint Transfer Utility. It's said to make it easier for users to create a standard file containing data from Allen-Bradley control systems, and to transfer that standard file to IBM AT-compatible PCs, either manually or over a Data Highway Plus network. (CIRCLE 78)

More Robots

A new traversing-type, pick-and-place robotic arm will be exhibited by Paxon Automation Inc., Santa Ana, Calif. Specially built for injection molding, the new Paxon FM series includes proprietary end-of-arm tooling that can be tailored to customer specifications. Prices range from $18,000 to $40,000. (CIRCLE 79)

Sytrama Srl of Vignate, Italy, will display a group of new robots passing plastic discs from one to another. Four robots, an assembly machine, and a pallet transport system will demonstrate how components in a parts-handling system can communicated with one another and be adapted to suit a variety of needs. (CIRCLE 80)

Monitoring System

Has Enhanced SPC

Many features have been added to the "enhanced" ProStat statistical process-control (SPC) software available with ProHelp production and process monitoring systems from Mattec Corp., Loveland, Ohio. High-resolution VGA graphics now make it possible to present more information on a single screen than with other systems using CGA or EGA hardware. For instance, as many as four charts can be presented simultaneously (see photo), so that X-bar and R values for different variables (e.g., injection pressure and speed) can be compared side by side. Also, all three panels of text associated with a histogram can be presented together with no loss of readability.

Other features are said to make the system more "user-friendly":

* Pop-up windows and "pick lists" now make it easier to identify parameters to be monitored, set SPC limits, or instruct the system to produce charts and reports.

* Job identifiers label each SPC display with job number, part number, machine number, customer name and mold number. Any one of these can be used to call up information on a job.

* Scaling control facilities comparing charts produced at different times or for different jobs, by laying one chart over another.

* Composite reports may contain different kinds of display--X-bar, R or P/U charts, histograms, capability analysis, or sample data; it's not necessary to print individual reports on each type of data.

* Remote PC access--all PC workstations on the system have simultaneous access to information and can print reports independent of the host computer.

"True random sampling" is a new feature that is said to increase the reliability of statistical data. Most systems, Mattec says, sample either a present number of consecutive cycles or consistently sample every "nth" cycle until the required number is collected. "True random" sampling follows "textbook SPC principles," according to the company, and selects a different, randomly chosen sequence of samples during every sampling period.

For example, a conventional five-cycle sample might consists of readings from every other cycle over 10 successive cycles in a sampling period. "True random" sampling might select the 7th, 11th, 18th 20th and 29th cycles--or any other random sequence of five samples. This produces more reliable data, Mattec says, because it increases the chances of catching an anomaly that occurs at regular intervals--possibly at precisely the intervals between the regularly spaced cycles in a conventional sampling sequence. (CIRCLE 81)

Press Monitoring

PC Software

Kistler Instrument Corp., Amherst, N.Y., is introducing Dataflow remote monitoring/analysis software. The IBM-PC compatible system is said to record, store and evaluate up to eight different parameters for analyzing injection machines and the injection process. (CIRCLE 82)

Energy-Saving

Pump Control

Industrial Control Systems, Yorba Linda, Calif., recommends its new Electro-Hydraulic controller in combination with a variable-speed-a-c motor (in place of the normal fixed-speed a-c motor), which together reportedly can reduce energy consumption by up to 70%. The system uses a specially designed a-c motor controller to vary the speed of an a-c pump motor and automatically set the proper amount of oil for each function of the machine. The system is said to allow the motor to deliver the exact amount of hydraulic fluid for each step in the molding process. This device combats the problem of pumping excess oil.

With the Electro-Hydraulic Drive system controlling the speed of the a-c motor, it pumps on demand only the amount of oil needed for all parts of the cycle, which reduces the electrical motor power needed. the pump motor uses 85-90% of total machine power, according to the company. (CIRCLE 83)

Quick-Change

Nozzle Adapter

New from Spirex Corp., Youngstown, Ohio, is the Quick Change Endcap/Barrel Assembly, described as an innovative way of assembling an endcap/nozzle adapter to an injection barrel. In place of the customary special bolts used to couple the endcap to the barrel, the new system provides interlocking surfaces that can be engaged by employing a single screw adapter. This is said to greatly reduce the time involved to remove the endcap/nozzle adapter, making it especially useful for molders who change check valves or pull screws frequently. (CIRCLE 84)

Spirex is also introducing a Static Control Feeding Device, a component that meters the amount of resin being delivered to the feedscrew, and is highlighting its new ability to perform barrel grooving onsite with no disassembly from the machine. (CIRCLE 85)

Parts Conveyors

EMI Plastics Equipment Corp., Jackson Center, Ohio, will debut two new conveyors--a vertical unit that moves totes or boxes to a predetermined height and discharges them onto an upper-level conveyor system; and a shuttle conveyor designed to operate with molding machines where prevention of part contamination is vital. When the shuttle conveyor receives a signal from the press, the collection bin moves toward the press opening. Once inside the press, it collects the molded parts and immediately removes them, eliminating much of the oil and water contamination found on belt conveyors used for the same task. (CIRCLE 86)

From LaRos Equipment, new Model 525A heavy-duty horizontal/incline conveyor has an adjustable angle. LaRos will also introduce a rotary screw separator for dimentionally similar parts and part/runner separation. (CIRCLE 87)

TEC Engineering Corp., Oxford, Mass., plans to introduce a new line of modular conveyors for under- and beside-the-press operations. (CIRCLE 88)

Hard-Facing

Materials

Alloy Tool Steel, Inc., Santa fe Springs, Calif., is introducing KPS-6 tool steel for injection screws, along with new K-Alloy barrels. (CIRCLE 89)

Wall Colmonoy Corp., Madison Heights, Mich., is introducing Colmonoy No. 88, a powdered hard-surfacing alloy for barrels. It's said to be super-hard, yet ductile. (CIRCLE 90)

New Mold Alloy

Ampco Metal Inc., Milwaukee, and distributor Performance Alloys, Waukesha, Wis., will be highlighting new Ampco 945, a berryllium-free copper alloy specifically developed for mold fabrication. This product offers hardness levels of 32-35 Rockwell C and resportedly has three to four times the conductivity of any tool steel. (CIRCLE 91)

Mold Components

Also new from Performance Alloys are patented sprue bushings with high thermal conductivity for faster cooling. Molders of small parts that suffer from extended sprue-cooling time could benefit by replacing standard steel bushings with the new alloy versions, say company officials. (CIRCLE 92)

Performance Alloys will also be featuring its new 20000 Series Performance Core Pins. They offer a standard hardness of 32-35 Rockwell C. (CIRCLE 93)

A.L.B.A. Enterprises, Torrance, Calif., is introducing an air-operated knockout coupler. Developed for applications where it's desirable to maintain positive pullback force on the ejector plate in the mold, the air-operated coupler fulfills this requirement, as well as reducing setup times and mold damage, the company says. It's reportedly well suited to small machines where only center knockout is available, or it can be used in multiples on larger molds. Once installed, no further setup of the ejectors is required. They are also well suited to quick mold changes, A.L.B.A. says. (CIRCLE 94)

Staubli Corp., Duncan, S.C., is introducing the ERS Coupling, a non-scratching air coupling intended to prevent damage of molded parts. (CIRCLE 95)

D-M-E Co., Madison Heights, Mich., is introducing "recycling inserts," mold inserts for rigid containers that identify the plastic material used in order to facilitate recycling. They come pre-engraved with SPI material codes 1 to 7 and are available in three sizes in either stainless steel or aluminum. D-M-E says they save engraving costs and ensure that the resultant logo type conforms with SPI specifications for recyclable materials. (CIRCLE 96)

Hydraulic Oil Filter

Velcon Filters, Inc., San Jose, Calif., will be introducing at the show the AH-5118SP Aquacon Spin-On Hydraulic Oil Filter, a 0.8-micron rated canister for removal of dirt and water from hydraulic oil recirculating systems. It reportedly provides lower pressure drop and higher flow rate, combined with higher particle- and water-removal efficiency. (CIRCLE 97)

Nozzle-Temperature

Sensor

Pyromation, Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., is introducing a nozzle-temperature sensor for injection molding machines. The unit requires only a simple screwdriver to install it, says the company, and doesn't require drilling and tapping of the nozzle. It's said to meet high-temperature requirements and can be ungrounded and isolated from the press. (CIRCLE 98)

Tiebar Senor

Kistler Instrument Corp., Amherst, N.Y., is introducing a sensor to measure tiebar stress. The piezoelectric transducer directly measures strain for precise measurement of stress and force. It is designed to monitor and control strain and stress in tiebars and prevent failure due to overload and fatigue. The sensor also makes it possible to compensate for temperature-induced expansion and contraction of the mold.

Designated Kistler Type 9243A, the sensor can be interfaced with any of Kistler's extension cables and electronics for readout and control. The unit requires a shallow, axially drilled hole at the end of the tiebar to achieve closed-loop control of the toggle mechanism. (CIRCLE 99)

New Sheet Line

On the Way

Sano Inc., a Cincinnati Milacron Co., Passaic, N.J., will introduce its very first sheet line this month at NPE '91 in Chicago. The line will capitalize on the company's cast film technology, according to v.p. of sales and marketing Michael Yahr. It will also incorporate new single-screw extruders from Cincinnati Milacron Plastics Machinery Systems, Cincinnati. (CIRCLE 100)

Backflushing

Screenchanger

An automatic backflushing screenchanger (right) will be introduced by Joachim Kreyenberg & Co. of Germany, represented here by Precision Equipment, Inc., Marietta, Ga. During backflushing, one screen remains in the normal operating position in the flow channel, while a second screen automatically moves to the backflushing position. The reverse flow of a small proportion of the melt stream from the first screen cleans the second screen. The material is discharged from the screencharger through an outlet channel in the housing. The production process is uninterrupted. Backflushing is initiated as soon as the pressure in the front of the screen increases above a predetermined level. (CIRCLE 101)

In-Barrel Viscosity

Sensor

Nametre Co., Metuchen, N.J., has developed an instrument to measure viscosity by insertion of the senior into a standard thermocouple opening of an extruder. Larger in instrument of the same torsion oscillation principle have been available, which could be used on extruders of 6-in. diam. or larger, placed after the end of the screw. Now it is possible to obtain direct viscosity measurements along the barrel of any extruder, says the company.

The design reportedly has been proven to function for viscosities between 10[.sup.4] and 10[.sup.8] cp. Viscosity measurements can be used to adjust screw speed or temperature in order to produce a more uniform product. (CIRCLE 102)

High-Torque

Brushless D-C Motor

A new low-speed, high-torque 430 Frame Series brushless d-c motor (right) will be introduced by Powertec Industrial Corp., Charlotte, N.C. It develops 700 lb/ft of continuous torque and 900 lb/ft of peak torque at speeds of less than 100 rpm without a gear reducer. The stator has provisions for liquid cooling. Maximum short-time speed is limited to 100 rpm. The basic unit is rated at 13.3 continuous hp at 100 rpm, and 17.1 peak hp at 100 rpm.

The high torque of these motors is said to make them suitable for use on sheet-roll stacks. The motors reportedly eliminate the need for gearboxes and drive the rollers very smoothly at low speeds, typically in the range of 0-70 rpm. The motors also can be used with gearboxes to drive screws on small extruders.

Commutation information is provided by a mechanically offset encoder that serves as an absolute encoder to commutate the brushless d-c motor, as well as two incremental speed channels in quadrature with a combined count at the motor shaft of 144,000 counts/revolution for smooth operation in a digital phase-lock speed loop.

Higher torque designs of 2800 lb/ft continuous torque and 3600 lb/ft peak torque are possible with larger frame designs. These larger motors are rated at 53 continuous hp at 100 rpm and 80 peak hp at 100 rpm. (CIRCLE 103)

Cooling Mandrel

For Foam Sheet

For cooling extruded foam sheet, Archer Marketing Corp., New Rochelle, N.Y., is introducing by Exotherm of England. Archer official say these are the only cast-aluminum mandrels on the market with cast-in tubing. Compared with the usual sheet-metal construction, this is said to offer better thermal conductivity, longer life, and lower cost. (CIRCLE 134)

Wall-Thickness Gauge

Is PC-Based

An ultrasonic pipe and tubing wall-thickness measuring system linked to a standard personal computer with color-graphics monitor is being offered by On Line Controls, Inc., Westboro, Mass. The UltraGage 2000 system includes a 286 PC that has been programmed to accept an O.D. input and to measure wall thickness, providing a calculated I.D. output.

The system is capable of measuring walls thinner than 6 mils and up to thicknesses of 2 in. an industrialized version using a computer board placed in a sealed box for wall mounting near the production line is also available. (CIRCLE 104)

New-generation FRP

Spray Gun

Venus-Gusmer, Kent, Wash., has come up with a successor to its H.I.S. '80 airless, internal-mix gun, which has been the company's standard since 1980. It was unveiled just last month at the company's annual distribution meeting and will be displayed this month at NPE. Although though the H.I.S. '80 will continue to be available, the new Pro Gun (photo p. 107) is now the company's standard, available at the same price, says marketing manager John Raymer. The new airless, internal-mix gun for chopping and gelcoating has several novel design features that are said to improve spray performance and operator comfort and convenience.

The Pro Gun uses a new "Distributive" mixing approach to blend catalyst and resin inside the gun. Catalyst is injected into the center of the mix chamber, while resin is forced into the chamber through several holes surrounding the catalyst port. This concentric design reportedly creates a balanced flow for more thorough mixing than ever before. The result is that catalyst levels can be slightly reduced, and material can be pumped at somewhat lower pressures than with the old gun, which reduces styrene fuming, says Raymer.

In addition, spray-gun operators should welcome the fact that this model has no more valve needles to adjust--in fact, nothing to adjust at all. Instead of needles, the Pro Gun maintains constant material volumes by a stainless-steel rod with two holes in its center. During gun operation, the rod turns to expose the holes to mating holes in the gun body. "It works like a ball valve," explains Raymer: When the holes face each other, resin and catalyst flow through the rod into the gun; when the rod turns, the orifices no longer face each other and flow stops instantly for both streams. No lead/lag is permitted by this system, and the first material out of the gun is in perfect ratio.

Venus-Gusmer uses its standard catalyst slave-arm pump with this system. An optional internal sensor monitors catalyst flow by displacement of a small floating piston. Unlike pressurebased monitoring systems, this one cannot be "fooled" by a vapor lock in the line, according to Raymer. A small alarm light in the gun handle shows whether catalyst is flowing normally.

The gun is about a half-pound lighter than the old gun, weighing 5.5 lb with chopper. It's also easier to maneuver because the weight is distributed evenly over the operator's hand, the company says. The latter is an advantage of the rotating, reversible gun block and detachable mix chamber and nozzle, which allows converting the gun from chop to gelcoat and vice versa while maintaining a comfortable balance.

The lockable, air-actuated trigger responds to light pressure and has two positions for wetout and chopping. Also, the gun's flush system is said to be easier to operate than in the past; flushing is a ccomplished at the touch of a button that is completely separate from the trigger. Solvent enters the mix chamber through the resin port, rather than a separate orifice, which reportedly makes flushing action more efficient.

The new Pro Series gelcoat system that was introduced last summer (and will be on display in Chicago) originally came with the H.I.S.'80 gun, but now will be sold standard with the Pro Gun. (CIRCLE 105)

Service by Modem

Jomar Corp., Pleasantville, N.J., will demonstrate its new program for offering technical service via modem at NPE. Show visitors will pick a programmed "fault" to be introduced into a Jomar 115H injection-blow molding machine operating at the booth. The machine operator will call a service rep, also at the booth, who will interrogate the machine controls via modem for diagnosis and adjustment. (CIRCLE 144)

Twin-Screw

Compounders

Theysohn Corp., McPherson, Kan., heretofore known as a supplier of screws and barrels, will unveil its new line of corotating, intermeshing twinscrew compounding extruders at NPE '91 (see PT, Jan. '91, p. 21; May '91, p. 173). Theysohn will be exhibiting in booth 3042.

Six initial models offer screw diam. of 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, and 120mm. Drives range from 16 to 604 hp, providing screw speeds of 300-500 rpm and torque of 170 to 10,590 lb-ft.

Segmented screws and barrels offer flexibility of configuration. Standard controls, mounted in a free-standing cabinet include multichannel temperature controllers with digital display of set and actual values. Optional microprocessor controller offers color CRT, graphic displays of measured data, automatic startup routines, master/slave control of main and auxiliary systems, storage of production data, and interface to higher-level factory control systems. A demonstration line is being installed at McPherson. (CIRCLE 106)

In addition, the company is supplying barrel sections, screw elements, kneading blocks and screw shafts for twin-screw compounding extruders from the McPherson plant. Theysohn plans to manufacture screw elements and kneading blocks in the U.S. in the future. (CIRCLE 107)

Pelletizer Rolls

American Roller Co., Bannockburn, Ill., will introduce a new disposable pelletizer roller system that features a disposable sleeve and a unique reusable core designed to prevent slipping. The company will also introduce a new ceramic pelletizer feed roller that replaces the knurled stainless-steel type. It is said to be less costly and to have outstanding abrasion resistance that extends the roller's life two-fold. (CIRCLE 108)

High-Intensity

Color Mixers

Littleford Brothers Inc., Florence, Ky., will introduce its new W-Series high-intensity mixers at the show, specially modified for blending color concentrates.

Various models in the series range from 10 to 2000 liters in capacity, with pricing from $14,000 to $150,000. A company spokesman says the W-Series features a newly designed blade configuration and discharge syste. (CIRCLE 109)

New Blenders

Thoreson-McCosh Inc., Troy, Mich., plans to introduce a new gravimetric blender, priced at $37,950, and a volumetric blender, priced at $10,750. (CIRCLE 110)

Pellet Dryers

Carter-Day Co., Minneapolis, will exhibit its new Spinaway pellet dryer series, aimed at compounding and recycling. Various models have drying capacities from 500 to 130,000 lb. The machines reportedly offer easy cleaning between batches. (CIRCLE 111)

PS Foam Densifier

Archer Marketing Corp., New Rochelle, N.Y., is introducing the Styromelt densification machine. It reduces the volume of polystyrene foam by up to 99% by melting it into small briquettes, which can be recycled into other plastic products or used as a fuel. (CIRCLE 112)

Design Software Has Many New Features

Structural Dynamics Research Corp. (SDRC), Milford, Ohio, plans to show off its new Level 6 release of IDEAS for Plastics design software. It will be exhibited at the Cincinnati Milacron booth. A host of new or improved features includes the following:

* New materials databases, for example, from GE Plastics, including data on 33 materials in the Lexan, Lomod, Noryl, Ultem, Valox, and Xenoy families. New data from Monsanto cover 51 ABS, nylon 66 and Cadon SMA grades. Databases on other suppliers are in development.

* Ability to model cooling effects of heat-pipe type devices and beryllium-copper inserts.

* New standard mold-base library.

* New "fill-in-the-blanks" forms, said to be even more convenient than previous menu-selection procedures. "Intelligent defaults" are provided for many of the "fill-in" items to save time in many cases.

* Flow analysis now can use tapered runner elements.

* Enhanced model-checking features ensure that cooling lines, for example, are not placed too near the surface of the mold or do not actually intersect the cavity.

* Improved surface-modeling features and ability to use patterns of design elements--e.g., automatically multiplying a single hole into an evenly spaced pattern.

* Equational relationships between dimensions--e.g., one dimension can be specified and others can be defined in terms of an equation based on that specified dimension.

* Tolerance analysis to determine the effect of changes in one tolerance on others in a complex assembly.

* Another tolerance feature allows the user to specify a fit between two components, and then if one component is enlarged or shrunk, the other will do the same to maintain the fit.

* Feature suppression--i.e., of fine details, such as tiny fillets--to facilitate finite-element meshing. (CIRCLE 113)

Metal-Spray

Moldmaking

An all-new metal-spray moldmaking system, Model 8830 Arc Jet, for rapid prototyping of molded plastic parts will be introduced by Hobart Tafa Technologies, Inc., Concord, N.H. According to the company, with the aid of the new Arc Jet spray moldmaking process and CAD model-making techniques, such as stereolithography, molded plastic components can be designed and molded in less than a week's time at one-tenth the cost of prototyping methods.

Applications can include injection molding, blow molding, RIM, structural foam, thermoforming, and molded urethane foams.

The new Model 8830 Arc Jet spray gun replaces the original Model 8830 Arc Spray Gun and sprays much higher velocity particles resulting in denser metal coatings for longer tool life. It is also said to decrease spray times due to additional cooling of particles; and--most significantly--it creates a narrow-focus spray pattern, reduced from 2-in. diam. to approx. 1/2-in. diam. This feature, along with higher particle velocity, allows models with deep cavities and tight corners to be sprayed more efficiently. (CIRCLE 114)

Vacuum Casting

Of Prototypes

Inexpensive, automated casting of prototypes (right) with properties resembling those of thermoplastics is said to be possible with vacuum-casting systems from HEK GmbH of Germany, being introduced to the U.S. by a new sister company, MCP Systems Inc., Fairfield, Conn. The systems cast liquid polyurethanes that provide cured properties similar to ABS, according to the company. Shore D hardness is 78-80.

The system involves casting silicone-rubber molds around a pattern. After cutting apart the mold halves and removing the pattern, the molds are placed inside the vacuum chamber of a microprocessor-controlled casting machine (above). The machine automatically mixes and pours the urethane chemicals under vacuum to eliminate air bubbles. Resulting prototypes can be of optical-quality transparency or pigmented. The smallest vacuum casting machine handles molds up to 14 x 10 x 17 3/4 in. size; the largest takes molds to 35 3/8 x 23 1/2 x 24 1/4 in. (CIRCLE 115)

Compact Dryers

Thoreson-McCosh Inc., Troy, Mich., will display two new compact dryers in its Dripak series. The Dripak 12 is priced at $2995, while the Dripak 24 lists at $3860. Pricing for both units includes both dryer and hopper. (CIRCLE 116)

Make Pad-Print

Plates Yourself

An in-plant plate-making system using a [CO.sub.2] laser, said to be unique, is being introduced by Markem Corp., Keene, N.H. Model 612 plate maker (photo p. 119) is actually a new version of a model introduced two years ago by Markem for semiconductor printing. But the 612 is an easier-to-use model designed specifically for pad printing on plastics.

The 612 allows print or linear art like logos to be downloaded from a Macintosh computer and engraved on specially surfaced aluminum plates, available only from Markem. It uses Markem's proprietary Platesmith software, available with or without computer. Finished plates, suitable for any pad printer, can be unloaded from a separate chamber while an image is being engraved. A 2 x 5 in. plate makes two images front and back for about 25 [cents]/image, or $1.00 per plate Markem says. Maximum plate size is 5 x 13 in.

The 612 costs about $53,000 without computer ($2000 additional) or a recommended four-day training course ($2800). (CIRCLE 183)

Static-Control

Equipment

Herbert Products, Inc., Westbury, N.Y., will exhibit its new Ionizing Curtain System (below), which is said to deliver a high-volume, high-velocity curtain of ionized air to molded plastic parts, conveyors and webs of various materials for static control and cleaning. Electronic or nuclear ionizers are used to generate ions that neutralize static charges on material surfaces and on contaminants to ensure their removal. (CIRCLE 117)

The company will also feature its ion-balanced, heated, ionized-air blower (Balanced Lo-Vel model), designed for large work areas in processes where the ionizer must be some distance--up to 10 ft--from the material being neutralized,

electronic assembly, plastic parts handling and packaging. (CIRCLE 118)

The Simco Co., Hatfield, Pa., plans to introduce its PLS (Performance Level Sensing) Static Bar System, said to provide constant bar perforance and easy maintenance with a built-in cleaner. The system incorporates the PLS static bar, which features a sensor rod used to sample the level of ionization near the emitter pins.

Also included is the PLS control Model 400, which contains the high-voltage power supply and circuitry for continuous measurement of the ion current emitted by the static bar, independent of external fields. An optional PLS alarm Model 403 triggers both visible and audible alarms simultaneously to indicate that performance of the bar had dropped and cleaning is needed. (CIRCLE 119)

Static Control Services, Palm Springs, Calif., will launch two new ionization systems at the show; its new PulseGun PG-5 compact, lightweight, hand-held ionizing gun with replaceable electrodes that can be changed in less than 1 min; and the new Self-cleaning Air-Assist Pulse Bar, which connects to existing compressed-air lines, has replaceable electrodes, and is recommended for applications where it must be mounted 2-3 ft away from the target. (CIRCLE 120)

Flourescent Pigment

Sensor

Sunx Sensors, West De Moines, Iowa, will introduce the Ultraviolet Beam Sensor to detect fluorescent pigment marking on products. It works with a uv lamp to excite fluorescent pigments. (CIRCLE 121)

Position Sensors

Balluff Inc., Florence, Ky., will introduce the BTL-2-P linear-displacement transducer. The unit is mechanically interchangeable with some existing potentiometers on the market and offers wear-free noncontact operation and is impervious to dirt and liquids. Also on hand will be a range of new optical encoders. (CIRCLE 122)

Magnetek Controls, Clawson, Mich., will display new linear-displacement transducers to show clamp and/or injection ram position. (CIRCLE 123)

Deem Controls, London, Ontario, will introduce the Line-Set One Programmable Limit Switch that converts the signal from a linear-displacement transducer into a continuous six-digit position display, and generates eight user-programmable on/off setpoints. (CIRCLE 124)

Drives & Controls

Emerson Industrial Controls, Grand Island, N.Y., is introducing the Quantum microcomputer-based digital d-c drive. It uses a common package for both regenerative and nonregenerative applications from 5 to 52 hp. (CIRCLE 125)

Communicating scr contractors and single- and three-phase scr contactors will be introduced by Eurotherm Corp., Reston, Va. (CIRCLE 126)

Saftronics Inc., Fort Myers, Fla., will introduce its new Varispeed-616G3 general-purpose inverter drives, and its Viking 16-bit microprocessor d-c motor controller.

The Varispeed-616G3 inverter features an insulated-gate, bipolar transistor output section for low-noise operation. The drive can be controlled by the standard cover-mounted digital operator station, remote analog/digital operator devices, or by an IBM-compatible PC through the on-board RS-232 interface. The drives are available in 0.5 to 40 hp in the 230-volt series and 0.5 to 75 hp in the 460-volt series. (CIRCLE 127)

The Viking microprocessor drive control is equipped with a 52-character alphanumeric keypad and 80-character message center. The unit functions on a range of a-c inputs from 208 to 480 v. It comes standard with an auto-tuning feature for easy setup and RS-232 port for on-line communications. It's available in ratings of 5 to 2000 hp. (CIRCLE 128)

Multipurpose Controls

West Instrument, Des Plaines, Ill., will display the Gardsman line of multiloop control and indicator systems, which can operate between four and 32 loops. The latest-generation [ML.sup.2] features multiloop display, recipe tuning, auto/manual operation and RS485 serial port. Logic functions have also been added to the [ML.sup.2] version, turning it into a mini process controller. It accepts all analog inputs and can have timers, counters, and sequencing functions.

New software makes the unit compatible with IBM PCs, so it can be operated remotely and upload/download information to and from the PC. Price ranges from about $3000 to $12,000, depending on number of loops. A new, optional CRT touchscreen is also available for $2300-2400 to supplement the standard two-line LED. (CIRCLE 129)

A new model 1808A power supply/signal conditioner will be shown by Terwin Instruments of England, represented by USA Inc., Newtonville, Mass. The unit is designed for use with most d-c pressure, load, torque, and displacement transducers. (CIRCLE 130)

Two Chiller Lines

Continental Products, Inc., Indianapolis, is introducing the Screwpac water-cooled chiller. Air-cooled models are also available, as well as pump/tank stations mounted on a common skid. Sizes range from 35 to 400 tons. (CIRCLE 131)

Continental is also introducing Scrollpac packaged chillers in 10-60 ton capacities, both air- and water-cooled. These use scroll compressors that are said to be state-of-the-art. They're available in split packages as well as central stations. (CIRCLE 132)

Drum Cooler For Sheet

Ryoka Techno Engineering and Construction Co. of Japan (represented by Nissho Iwai American Corp., N.Y.C.) will introduce its new "Drum Cooler," said to be an advance over traditional drum flakers and steel-belt coolers. It's for producing flake or granule from a melt without conventional pelletizing. Applications include polyethylene, rubber and powder coatings. It utilizes a rotary drum, the interior of which contains a special cooling spray. Melted material is pressed against the drum by a belt resulting in production of a uniform sheet of material. This is typically then crushed into flakes, which are discharged through a chute or by a screw conveyor.

Key advantages are its much greater compactness than conventional steel-belt coolers, and enclosed design to keep out dust and dirt. Also, the enclosure can be filled with dry air or nitrogen gas to prevent moisture condensation or oxidation of materials on the drum surface. (CIRCLE 133)

Rheometer for Melts & Solids

Bohlin Reologi, Inc., Cranbury, N.J., is introducing the VOR Rheometer for Melts (VOR-M), designed to provide complete characterization of polymers in melt and solid forms. It has an oven for temperatures from ambient to 1020 F (a liquid-nitrogen cooling option is also available), tools for torsional measurements on solid bars, and capability of both steady and oscillatory measurements.

Control software includes automatic data evaluation for standard measurements such as ASTM D4473-85 for curing composites. (CIRCLE 135)

For their customers' convenience, standard reference materials for calibrating viscometers and rheometers are now available directly from Bohlin. (CIRCLE 136)

Color Matching & Control Software

New Chroma-Calc 2.0 Color Control Software from Applied Color Systems, Inc., Princeton, N.J., is said to include a number of new and improved features. These include color formulation and correction mathematics engineered specifically for plastics, and gloss compensation that allows matching of samples at difference gloss levels automatically.

The new software also produces formulas with minimum pigment loading for a specific resin, and provides accurate matching of dark and highly saturated colors, says ACS. New mathematics for color matching in transparent plastics is also provided. So-called "intelligent" features include a time-saving automatic search of past formulations for a possible match prior to performing traditional combinatorial matches. Formulas can be produced in dry, paste or volume calibration modes.

Also by ACS are new compact Chroma-QC Systems expressly for raw-materials and finished-product quality inspection. The systems include Chroma-Sensor CS-3 dual-beam spectrophotometers, an IBM PS/2 computer, and Chroma-QC software. (CIRCLE 137)

Coex Film Layer Gauge

Topware U.S.A., Inc., Roselle, N.J., will show a newly enhanced version of the Topware LayerGauge, a PC-based white-light interferometer, which measures individual layer thicknesses in multilayer plastic films and coatings. It has upgraded graphic software, which provides automatic computer selection of operating parameters for sample measurement. This is said to facilitate setting up the instrument to measure new structures. (CIRCLE 138)

Hot-Track Testers

Topwave will also feature its new generation of DTC Hot Tack Testers, designed for accurate testing of mechanical properties of seals immediately after the sealing operation.

Bottle Q-C System

And Topwave is launching a new Gawis O.D. device for automatic measurement of bottle wall-thickness, O.D., and neck-finish, with SPC reporting. It can be used off-line or with a robot as an on-line sampling station. (CIRCLE 139)

Carbon-Black Tester

New from C.W. Brabender Instruments, Inc., Hackensack, N.J., is the Absorptometer E, which measures the consistency of absorption of carbon black for ASTM carbon-black absorption studies. (CIRCLE 140)

Vibration Sensing

VPI Rapidscan instrument for real-time, noncontacting vibration measurement will be introduced by Sira Inc., Ometron Div., Sterling, Va. Suitable for analyzing machinery and structures, it measures vibration up to 600 ft via scanning laser doppler technology. PC-based software provides color-coded images of operating deflection shapes. (CIRCLE 141)

ABS & ASA

Imported Japanese ASA and FR-ABS resins will be shown by Diamond Polymers Inc., Akron, Ohio. Diamond is a new ABS producer, which is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Rayon of Japan, Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, and Network Polymers, a sale and marketing firm based in New Haven, Conn. (see PT, Sept. '89, p. 152).

Diamond will display a new S-series of weatherable ASA terpolymers and a new flame-retardant grade of ABS, both designed for injection molding and extrusion. The VP-1 grade of ABS is said to meet UL94V-0. (CIRCLE 142)

Fluorescent Pigments

Highly heat-stable fluorescent pigments for coloring PVC and polyolefins will be introduced by Day-Glo Color Corp., Cleveland. The VC line of pigments includes five shades. New ZQ pigments, aimed at polyolefins, reportedly reduce mold plateout and provide cleaner, brighter and stronger colors. Also, a new NX line of fluorescent concentrates includes five products that reportedly show increased resin compatibility and reduced plateout. These colorants have a 50% pigment loading. (CIRCLE 143)

Injection Valves Designed to Last

A new line of injection check valves is available in a range of alloys and tool steels to provide long life, reportedly meeting or exceeding OEM specifications at a competitive price. The Commander Series from General Injection Valve, Barberton, Ohio, is available in standard or custom models from 18 mm up to the largest screw sizes.

To promote longer life in abrasive and corrosive conditions, General Injection suggests application of ArmorTuff, a proprietary hard-surfacing material, to the valve's primary wear-surfaces.

A large inventory of standard size valves are said to be ready for immediate, same-day shipping. Custom-made valves usually can be shipped within three working days after an order is received. Although costs vary, sources say Commander valves cost about 25% less than other valves. (CIRCLE 154)

In addition, new four-piece ring valves, which permit replacement of any one of the four components at a fraction of the cost of a new valve, are available from EMI Plastics Equipment Corp., Jackson Center, Ohio. Standard construction is nitrided H-13 steel, though special wear-resistant CPM-9V alloy is also available. The ring is also said to be designed for low shear on the melt, as well as low residence time and quick materials changeover. (CIRCLE 155)

Quoting/Costing

PC Software

New personal-computer software for quotation and costing by molders computes final molding prices based on desired profit levels and a user's cost factors. From ExpressWare Systems, Eagle, Wis., the program incorporates resin price breaks into customer-requested pricing quantity. Final part weight is calculated based on the specific gravity of the resin to be used.

Two versions are available: Quote Express The Original ($500), an entry-level program; and Quote Express Plus ($3000), a more sophisticated version with complex calculation capabilities. (CIRCLE 156)

Troubleshooting

Advice Free by Fax

FaxSolve is a new free troubleshooting service from Paulson Training Programs, Cromwell, Conn. It's said to provide injection molders with quick answers to troublesome molding problems via a fax machine. It offers assistance on 29 different molding problems and 41 different materials. Among the areas covered are structural, appearance, dimensional and operating problems. The service provides molders with a printed report, including specific control settings that may be causing a problem.

To use FaxSolve, molders fill out a standardized form provided by Paulson. The form, with seven to 10 questions, specifies the problem in terms of machine size, resin type, mold type, location of defect, part dimensions, and a number of other parameters. The molder faxes the completed form to Paulson, where the data are input into its IMES II troubleshooting software, which generates a report.

The report specifies control settings that may be causing the problem, which of those suspect control settings are the most cost-effective fixes, and recommendations for more extensive changes that may have to be made if control adjustments alone can't solve the problem. Also included is an explanation of why a particular control adjustment may be at fault. The report is faxed back to the molder, usually within five minutes during business hours. More information is available by calling 1-800-826-1901. (CIRCLE 157)

New-Generation

Process Control

A new generation of its Epic control system will be displayed by Davis-Standard Div. of Cromption & Knowles Corp., Pawcatuck, Conn. at NPE '91 in Chicago this month. The EPIC II control system is designed for both extrusion and blow molding and includes 32-bit CPUs, high-resolution touchscreen graphics, and advanced PLC design. The unit consists of a PC-based operator-interface module that's said to be easy to use and service. Actual machine-control functions. such as temperature control, drive interface, closed-loop parison, mold-clamp and shot control are carried out by a new-generation, high-speed PLC. Its open architecture and distributed functionality reportedly allows ease of expansion, customization, connectivity, and upgradability, the company says.

The unit is said to make advanced computer control affordable for a wider range of process equipment--from single extruders to complex coextrusion systems. Approximate cost of a system for a typical single extruder--minus the cost of redundant extruder controls--is about $20,000,. The controller reportedly can incorporate dual-thermocouple temperature control, high-speed parison programming, and fast-response closed-loop control. (CIRLCE 55)

Heavy-Duty Extruder Line

A line of heavy-duty extruders from 2 to 6 in. has been introduced by Brampton Engineering, Brampton, Ontario. The HD series extruders featureas standard a rigid base platform with cross-ribbing, barrels with bimetallic linings that extend through the feed throat, breaker plates, high-strength gearboxes with double-reduction ground helical gears, and full barrel covers. Other features include hoppers with sight glass, a slide plate with dump chute, water-cooled feed throats, and either flanged or threaded barrel end.

Brampton can customize its machines with various options, including 24:1 or 30: 1 L/D, water or air cooling, high-performance screw designs for specific polymers, and complete microprocessors controls. (CIRCLE 158)

'Dead-Stop'

Frictionless Cutter

A "frictionless," high-torque, clutch-brake rotary-knife cutter from Killion Extruders, Inc., Cedar Grove, N.J., is said to provide a high degree of accuracy and cutting force with few moving parts. An added benefit is an optional, mechanically linked dead-stop feature that provides high accuracy at rates of up to 300 cut/min. The product is halted by coming up against the dead stop just before the knife starts its cut. Once the blade enters the produt, the dead stop is automatically removed and the bottom of the guide is automatically opened to air-eject the part.

This system is said to minimize the interruption typicaly of many dead-stop devices. The sensing switch is adjustable to synchronize this action correctly in relation to line speed, and the length of the product may also be adjusted easily, Killion says.

The drive system uses clutch plates that contain a cast polyurethane compound. The drive disk contains numerous teeth that are forced into the urethane clutch plates by two cam followers during each cutting cycle. Once engaged, what starts as an inertia-driven drive turns into a positive mechanical drive force transmitting a high degree of power. An additional flywheel has been added to almost double the cutting force developed by the drive system. The drive system also incorporates a shock-absorption system to implement stopping. (CIRCLE 159)

Batch Mixer for

Thermosets

New FKM-series batch mixers for reinforced thermosets are said to provide short mix cycles and uniform blends while eliminating filamentizing of fibers and stratification of discharged product. These mixers from Littleford Bros., Inc., Florence, Ky., are claimed to greatly reduce the need for premilling of batch components and eliminate the need for post-milling and homogenization operations.

Precise temperatures control is provided by a uniform-flow labyrinth-design surrounding the mixer. The mixer, when equipped with high-speed choppers, produces the high shear required to disperse and develop the pigment in a short mix cycle. Reinforcing fibers reportedly are dispersed uniformly without breakage or damage, and liquid additives can quickly be dispersed without agglomerate formation. (CIRCLE 160)

Containerized Batch

Mixing System

A Containerized Batch Mixing (CBM) System for powder processing has been introduced by Teledyne Readco, York, Pa. This line of dry-solids batch mixers is available in working volumes ranging from 1 qt to 150 cu ft. The CBM is said to be suited for high-intensity mixing of hazardous, high-value, or dusty substances. The use of detachable sealed mixing vessels, which can be charged or discharged from a single remote-drive station, is said to result in a clean, contaminant-free area. Mixing vessels are interchangeable and available in a variety of sizes. The system also permits custom selection of removable high-intensity mixing elements. (CIRCLE 161)

SRIM Urethane

Baydur STR 1000, a new polyurethane resin system for structural RIM (SRIM) from Mobay Corp., Pittsburgh, is said to offer processing advantages over Mobay's Baydur STR 400 high-strength series. Among improved properties offered by STR 1000 are faster cure together with longer gel time--approx. 10 sec--which serves to allow filling of large, heavily reinforce parts, company sources say. Moreover, performance of the internal mold-release system reportedly has been improved.

The new resin system is primarily targeted for use in large structural automotive parts, such as floor pans. However, other applications--e.g. chair shells--are also being expolred due to the material's excellent cosmetic surface, Mobay says. (CIRCLE 162)

Sprayable Syntactic

Foams

The Spray Core Div. of Omega Chemical Inc., Wildwood, Fla., has added two more grades to its line of Spray Core sprayable syntactic foams. These compounds consist basically to polyester resin and hollow microspheres of various diameters (see PT, March '89, p. 85; April '91, p. 40). They can be sprayed or injected and are said to be less costly, simpler to use, and more durable than cores made of PVC foams, balsa wood or other materials.

Products in this line--now totaling nine--have been used extensively in boat building within the last two years. The two newest additions are Spray Core 9000 and Spray Core 3000. Spray Core 9000 is described as a spray-applied laminate that eliminates roll-out. This product can be sprayed directly behind gel coats or acrylic sheets in high-volume tub, shower, pool/spa, and architectural applications.

Spray Core 3000, formulated to comply with California's Rule 1162, is a sprayable styrene-reducing barrier coating. Users spray a 30-mil-thick film as a coating over fresh chopped-glass laminate so that styrene emissions are sealed off. (CIRCLE 163)

Vinyl Ester for

SMC and BMC

A one-component vinyl ester SMC/BMC resin said to offer ease of handling, reproducible thickening, and molding characteristics of conventional polyester SMC resins is new from Interplastic Corp.'s Commercial Resins Div., Minneapolis. CoRezyn VE8935-1 reportedly provides high crosslink density to maintain performance properties at automotive under-the-hood temperatures up to 400 F, while also providing good surface apperance. (CIRCLE 164)

Plating Chemicals

A line of chemical systems designed for plating on engineering plastics is new from Allied-Kelite, a Witco Corp. company, Melrose Park, Ill. These plating-on-plastics (P.O.P.) chemicals are aimed especially at high-strength and flame-retardant plastic alloys. Products now commercial in the P.O.P. line include cleaners, pre-etchants, etchants, chrome neutralizers, catalysts and electroless copper plating solutions. (CIRCLE 166)

Noncontact Mini

Static Tester

A new miniature device from Tantec Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., is said to be the only noncontact static-bar tester on the market. The tester can check the functioning of a-c static bars, ion blowers and nozzles. "Operators generally use a screwdriver (between the grounded outer shell and the electrodes) to see if the bar sparks," says Tantec marketing manager Robert Wettermann.

The Mini Static Tester is a little larger than a ballpoint pen and uses two standard AAA bateries. An operator points it from a few inches away at the electrodes or any surface material to be tested. The presence of at least 90 volts of static field will trigger the circuit and light the tester's red light. When pointed toward positively charged objects, the light comes on. For negaively charged objects, the tester lights when pulled away. It costs $39. (CIRCLE 165)

Surface Quality

Tester for Plaques

A self-contained, compact, computerized system for testing the surface quality of composite test plaques is new from Diffracto Ltd., Windsor, Ontario. Designated TPS-1, the system is based on the technology employed by the company's larger D-Sight optical surface quality instruments for parts inspection. TPS-1 accommodates test plaques up to 22 x 30 in. in an enclosed chamber. A set of three reference plaques is provided by Diffracto to assist users in making pass/fail determinations.

Operation is said to be very simple. The user places the test plaque in an image-capturing enclosure and selects the "gage" command from the system menu, after which the system returns a waviness rating in 30 sec or less. Price of the system is $45,000. (CIRCLE 167)

Universal Testers

From France

STI Co., Inc. (Stevens Testing Instruments), Fort Mill, S.C., is the newly appointed North American distributor of universal testing machines from Adamel Lhomargy Divison d'Instruments S.A. of France. The DY30 Series has integral microprocessor control and a variety of accessories for tensile and compression tests, bend, peel, tear, static or dynamic friction, and other mechanical tests.

STI also provides contract instrument certification services and is reportedly one of the few American companies that can certify instruments based on ISO 9000 quality standards (see also p. 166). (CIRCLE 168)

MRP-II Plus

Quoting, EDI

New software options are available for two well known, integrated MRP-II systems developed specifically for plastics molders. Both packages already provide an integrated range of management functions such as order entry, scheduling, purchasing and receiving, materials requirements planning, production/inventory control, shipping and invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, sales analysis, and cost and profitability analysis.

A new quotation module is offered as an option for the Plastics Advisor MRP-II system from Keller, Schroeder & Associates, Inc., Evansville, Ind. This flexible system allows users to define any number of custom quotation report formats, and also provides a built-in "quick-quote" option for fast turnarounds. The software includes provisions for quantity price breaks for all materials, including resins, colorants, inserts, packaging; tooling charges and amortization; secondary operations and outside manufacturing. Automatic "default" values can be programmed in. And multiple lines of notes can be added for internal or external use. (CIRCLE 184)

For processors who want to communicate electronically with customers or suppliers, optional software for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has been integrated with the Plastics Management System for MRP-II from Data Technical Research, Jacksonville, Fla. The "CARaS" EDI software for DEC VAX computers comes from Radley Business Computers, Inc., West Bloomfield, Mich. This menu-driven software offers capabilities for such computer-to-computer transactions as invoicing, business-document acknowledgement, planning schedules with release capability, purchase notification, shipping and receiving notices, delivery orders, and test results.

CARaS is already used by such firms as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, Nissan, Volvo GM Heavy Truck, Lear Sigler, Navistar, and K-Mart. Telephone hotline service support is available. (CIRCLE 185)

Capstocks for

PVC Profiles

Just at press time, we learned that Rohm and Haas Co., Philadephia, will introduce at NPE '91 in Chicago this month three new acrylic materials for use as weatherable capstocks coextruded over outdoor vinyl profiles. One product that's fully commercial is called Solacryl PG. It's a PlexiGlas-type resin designed specifically for use on PVC windows, as the impact strength is not sufficient for siding. A second product, Solacryl SC, is developmental but close to commercialization; it offers higher impact strength for thinner window-profile designs.

Both products are available in standard colors and custom colors for orders over 24,000 lb. Both products have the advantage of excellent color hold, intrinsic to acrylics, plus full miscibility with PVC in regrind, says Rohm and Haas. (CIRCLE 186)

Also developmental is Solacryl 209, an impact-modified acrylic powder designed for blending with PVC at about 50:50 ratio to formulate your own capstocks for either siding or windows. It costs $1.80/lb, which yields a final formulation of around $1.20/lb or s. Capstocks formulated with Solacryl 209 reportedly have good processability much like that of PVC itself. Rohm and Haas offers guidance on selection of appropriate pigments. (CIRCLE 187)

Weatherable ASA

For Sheet

Two new extrusion grades of weather-resistant ASA resin are being introduced to the North American market by BASF Corp. Plastic Materials, Parsippany, N.J. The introduction complements the existing line of Luran S ASA injection molding grades. The move by BASF comes on the heels of an announcement by Dow Plastics, Midland, Mich., to discontinue its line of Rovel weatherable AES terpolymers (see PT, April '91, p. 127). BASF sees its ASA grades as direct replacements for Rovel.

New Luran S 776 SE has a melt flow rate of 8 g/10 min, notched Izod impact strength of 6.2 ft-lb/in., tensile modulus of 333,500 psi, and heat-distortion temperature of 203 F at 264 psi. Luran S 797 SE has an MFR of 7, notched Izod value of 11.2 ft-lb/in., tensile modulus of 290,000 psi, and HDT of 198 F. Both grades reportedly offer high gloss and very good chemical resistance. (CIRCLE 188)

Polysulfones Now

Commercial

BASF Corp. Plastic Materials, Parsippany, N.J., is now commercially supplying its Ultrason S polysulfones in North America. BASF announced these materials over a year ago, but only recently has begun to supply them here in commercial quantities.

Ultrason S comes in three unfilled grades for injection, blow molding and extrusion, offering low to high viscosity and heat-distortion temperatures from 327 to 240 F at 264 psi (349-360 F at 66 psi). Also available are 10%, 20% and 30% glass-filled grades with HDT's of 361-365 F at 264 psi and flex moduli from 600,000 to 1.25 million ps. (CIRCLE 189)

These grades complement BASF's Ultrason E polyethersulfones, also introduced last year (see PT, March |90, p. 105). These come in four unfilled grades of low to high viscosity, for injection, blow molding and extrusion. One especially high-viscosity extrusion grade (E 6010) is said to have particularly high chemical resistance. HDTs of these grades are 383 F at 264 ps and 410 F at 66 psi. Also available are 10%, 20% and 30% glass-filled molding grades, three similar grades for extrusion, and a 30% mineral-filled extrusion grade. Reinforced grades have flex moduli up to 1.3 million psi and HDTs up to 419 F at 264 psi and 430 F at 66 psi. (CIRCLE 190)

Impact-Modified

Nylons 6 & 66

A series of impact-modified Ultramid nylon injection molding resins, including 6 and 66 types and 6/66 copolymers, is new from BASF Corp. Plastic Materials, Parsippany, N.J. Among the 11 types being introduced, the highest toughness is shown by unreinforced grades B35Z and A3Z (nylon 6 and 66, respectively), which have notched Izod impact strengths above 17 ft-lb/in. when dry, and a "No-Break" rating when wet. They also retain notched Izod valued of 2.5 and 3.0 ft-lb/in., respectively, at -40 F.

Also available are type 6 nylons with 15%, 30% and 40% glass; a type 66 with 30% glass; and 15-30% mineral-reinforced 66 and copolymer grades. Ultramid B3ZG8, a nylon 6 with 40% glass, boasts a notable balance of toughness (4.8 ft-lb/in. notched Izod dry) and stiffness (980,000 psi tensile modulus moist).

A flame-retardant nylon 66 with 25% glass (Ultramid A3XZH5) offers a UL 94V-0 rating together with notched Izod impact (dry) of 3.8 ft-lb/in. and tensile modulus (moist) of 650,000 psi.

A type 6 with 10% glass and 20% mineral (B3ZGM24) reportedly combines low warpage with notched Izod values of 2.0 ft-lb/in. dry and 5.2 ft-lb/in. wet, plus 427,000 psi tensile modulus moist. (CIRCLE 194)

Conductive & Anti-Static

Compounds

Two antistatic and conductive compounds are new from ICI Advanced Materials, LNP Engineering Plastics, Exton, Pa.. Stat-Kon AS, a blend of ABS with stainless-steel fibers, is the conductive version. It has tensile strength of 7500 psi, flexural strength of 12,500 psi, and flexural modulus of 425,000 psi. Price is $5.45/lb. (CIRCLE 192)

Stat-Kon PDX-C-90361 is polystyrene with a nonionic, nonhumidity-dependent, nonblooming antistat. It's aimed at electrical and electronic packaging and handling applications. Price is $3.25/lb. (CIRCLE 193)

Magnetic Compounds

Injection moldable, magnetizable thermoplastic compounds containing various metallic fillers are new from Bay Resins, Inc., Millington, Md. Initial products in the series consist of nylon 6 filled with barium ferrites. (CIRCLE 191)

Vinyl TPE's for

Plenum Cable

BFGoodrich Co., Cleveland, has expanded its new line of thermoplastic elastomers for plenum cable applications requiring ultra-low smoke and flame-spread properties. This Flexel line, identified only as being "based on vinyl alloy technology," was launched with a single Flexel 1000 cable jacketing grade last year (see PT, Feb. '90, p. 19). Today, there are three grades: Flexel 1010 is for copper plenum cable jacketing; Flexel 1500 is an insulation compound for copper plenum cable; and Flexel 2000 is for jacketing fiber-optic cables.

These products reportedly have passed UL 1581 requirements on tensile and elongation retention at 75 C operating temperature for Class 12 and 43 insulation and jacketing. BFG also says various coaxial cable constructions jacketed with Flexel 1010 have received UL 910 approval, and a number of complex twisted-pair constructions with Flexel 1010 jackets have passed the UL 910 modified Steiner tunnel burn test.

Besides good flame, smoke, and heat-aging properties, these TPEs are said to show good toughness, cut-through resistance, electrical insulation, and low-temperature flexibility. They can be processed on standard extruders and dies used for flexible PVC, according to BFG. (CIRCLE 195)

LLDPEs for

Wire & Cable

Two LLDPE resins and two concentrates for wire and cable jacketing have been developed by Quantum Chemical Corp.'s USI Div., Cincinnati. These new materials can produce jacketing with excellent ESCR and resistance to low-temperature brittleness, says USI.

Petrothene GA 808-090 is a 0.7-MI, natural LLDPE with a broad molecular-weight distribution. For use with this resin, the company offers Petrothene CM 92688 LLDPE-based black concentrate that also contains an antioxidant to ensure thermal stability during extrusion and to enhance the resin's resistance to long-term thermal aging.

Petrothene GA 808-093 also is a 0.7-MI, natural LLDPE having a broad MWD, but it contains an antioxidant. For use with this resin, Quantum offers Petrothene CM 92747, a 0.18-MI LDPE black concentrate. With his combination of LLDPE base resins and black concentrates, processors have the option of introducing the antioxidant by either the resin or by the concentrate. (CIRCLE 196)

Adhesive Polyolefins

BP Performance Polymers Inc., Hackettstown, N.J., has come out with several new modified polyolefins designed for adhesion to metals and polar polymers such as nylon or TP urethane. Included among these are Polybond PB 1016, an acid-grafted PP with 20 MFR for injection molding and sheet extrusion; and PB 2015, an acid-grafted PP with 12 MFR for film and sheet extrusion.

PB 2005 is an acid-grafted PP (MFR 25) and PB 2006 is an anhydridegrafted PP (MFR 40), both for extrusion coating in FDA applications. In addition, PB 2021 is an anhydrige-grafted LLDPE with 7 MI for film, sheet, and injection molding.

Prices range from $1.30 to $1.80/lb. (CIRCLE 197)

MDPE for Gas Pipe

Solvay Polymers, Houston, has a new medium-density PE compound for gas pipe, designated Fortiflex Polyglas K38-20-160 PE. This yellow compound replaces Solvay's orange Polyglas K38-20-137 compound.

Besides its unique color, new Polyglas K38-20-160 is said to be manufactured "about industry standards" and is designed exclusively for small- and medium-diameter gas distribution. This compound has obtained a standard grade approval from the Plastic Pipe Institute and is part of an industry standardization effort toward international color recognition.

Key features are said to include outstanding ESCR and exceptional long-term stress-rupture performance. (CIRCLE 198)

Rotomolding PEs

Du Pont Canada, Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, has introduced two polyethylene rotomolding resins and has reintroduced a third. Sclair 8204 is a new grade with a density of 0.928 and MI of 2.0. It's formulated to provide superior toughness for products such as roll-out refuse carts.

Sclair 8308, the second new grade, has a density of 0.930 and MI of 5.9. Sclair 8407, the reintroduced grade, has a density of 0.937 and MI of 5.0. Both are intended for a broad range of applications where high flow and good fill are important.

With the addition of these resins, the total number of rotomolding grades now offered by Du Pont Canada is 16. That, according to Einar Voldner, senior account manager, is "the industry's broadest product offering." (CIRCLE 199)

LLDPE for Lids

A high-flow (100-MI) LLDPE for injection molded lids is new from Quantum Chemical Corp.'s USI Div., Cincinnati. Petrothene GA 584 is said to meet FDA specs. It has a density of 0.929, ultimate tensile strength of 2300 psi, ultimate elongation of 40%, secant flexural modulus of 76,000 psi, and brittleness temperature, F50 of-15F. (CIRCLE 182)

Impact Modifiers For

Nylon, PET

At press time, we learned of two new impact modifiers to be introduced at NPE '91 in Chicago this month by Rohm and Haas Co., Philadelphia. One is Paraloid EXL-3611, an MBS type that's said to impart good low-temperature toughness to nylon 6 with minimal loss of stiffness. With 20% of this modifier, full ductility reportedly can be maintained at -4 F. (CIRCLE 169)

Also new is Paraloid EXL-5375, one of a new series of specialty acrylic modifiers. It's aimed at CPET trays, providing toughness at freezer temperatures. It's an additive package including nucleant. (CIRCLE 145)

Flame-Retardant

Plasticizer

A low-smoke flame-retardant plasticizer is a new product introduced by Monsanto Chemical's Polymer Modifier Business unit. Santicizer 2148 ia an alky aryl phosphate ester that's said to allow wire and cable manufacturers to meet plenum requirements with PVC jacketing instead of having to use expensive fluoropolymers. It is said to have very low volatility, excellent low-temperature performance and good softening efficiency.

The low volatility is said to enhance the heat-aging characteristics of compounds. Spokesmen for Monsanto claim that this combination of properties is highly unusual for a flame-retardant plasticizer. (CIRCLE 70)

Robots for Post-Molding Operations

Exhibiting at NPE '91 this month (booth 12511) in Chicago is Hama USA Inc., Three Bridges, N.J., a new company set up to supply robots from Hama Corp. of Japan. These robots are designed to work in conjunction with parts-removal robots to accomplish post-molding operations such as gate cutting and case packing. All Hama robots are controlled by electric stepping motors.

The HM-8000 gate cutter has four-axis pulse-motor control. A hand-held keypad with LED display programs up to 90 steps for each cutting procedure and stores up to 20 complete programs. Manual "teach" mode as well as three levels of speed control are provided, the highest speed allowing up to 90 motions to be performed in 30 sec. Safety is said to be ensured because the robot can detect even the smallest interference to its cut/motion sequence and will immediately stop and sound an alarm. The robot is activated by an electronic photosensor and thus needs no hardware interface to the molding machine or take-out robot.

Over 4000 of these robots are being used in Japan today, many of them by molders who are said to be switching from hot-runner back to cold-runner molds in order to save on mold cost, and also for the ability to use a larger gate in order to improve part quality.

Options include hydraulic, heated nippers, air nippers, or ultrasonic cutting. The HM-8000 can also be adapted to other tasks, such as hole drilling, deburring, and general pick-and-place applications. Price is $21,000. (CIRCLE 550)

Hama's HM-2000 intelligent case packer has five-axis pulse-motor control and the same sort of hand-held programmer. It can store two complete packing programs with up to 30 steps each. Molded parts are placed on the "part platform" of the HM-2000, which is then lowered to the "home" position for the robot arm to grab the part with suction or grippers. Up to 256 pieces can be packed per layer and up to 256 layers per box. Divider sheets are automatically placed between layers. Empty cartons are stored on the robot's infeed conveyor. When a carton is packed full, a new one indexes into position. Price is $58,000. (CIRCLE 551)

Both robots come with a one-year warranty, spare-parts kit, tool kit, and instruction manual. Hama can offer turnkey automation systems, as well as leasing and financing.

Mat Heaters

Flexible mat heaters that can be shaped to conform to the walls of any sort of tank, drum or storage vessel are being introduced to the plastics market by Trasor Corp., Tulsa, Okla. Mat heaters consist of welded stainless-steel cloth with Incolony or Inconel sheath heating elements that can operate continuously at up to 1000 F, permanently attached to the mat's inside surface. The mat comes with stainless-steel bands for fastening it around the surface to be heated.

The mat heaters are used to keep liquids at a pumpable viscosity or to prevent condensation in bulk-solids storage bins. Each mat heater is custom fabricated. The largest one made to date measures 4 x 100 ft. (CIRCLES 552)

Nylon Water Manifolds

Corrosion-free plastic water manifolds of modular, parallel design, are new from Burger Engineering, Olathe, Kan. Manabloc mold-cooling manifolds are said to be compact and pressure-tested to 220 psi at 180 F. Positive O-ring seals, brass fittings, built-in valves, and mounting bracket are all provided. (CIRCLE 553)

Extruder

Temperature Control

A new-generation temperature controller for extruders will be introduced this month at NPE '91 in Chicago by Davis-Standard Div. of Crompton & Knowles Corp., Pawcatuck, Conn. The System 401 combines all of the features of the existing System 301 with new ones. These include a new PID control algorithm for single-thermocouple, heat-only zones to provide improved performance in die control. In addition, a new two-channel pressure module allows monitoring of this process variable and incorporating it into the system's display and report-writing features. RS-232 communication is now standard, making integration into total line control systems possible.

The controller is said to be easy to use. Full alphanumeric disply has a range of problem-solving features such as extensive prompting and a front panel with minimum number of keys, logically arranged. Even at a distance, the large bar-graph display gives at-a-glance zone status. Memory storage of 10 setups contains all barrel and die setpoints and min/max limits. The system 401 will retain all power settings in case of power failure.

Dual alarm contact outputs maintain process control. The dual alarm system indicates any problems in the process, and a critical alarm is sounded for conditions that may upset the process.

Existing 301 systems can be easily upgraded to achieve some of the 401's features, including STD communication port and PID die zones, without replacing the system rack. Approximate price of the 401 controller for a single extruder is $8000 to $10,000 over a basic machine with discrete temperature controllers. (CIRCLE 554)

New Pressure

Sensors

Two new pressures transducers are available from CMC Technologies, Ltd., a relatively new supplier in Buffalo, N.Y. (see PT, Sept. '90, p. 117). One is a "switching transducer," which combines a pressure transducer with on/off actuation capability at a preset pressure. The unit costs about $490. (CIRCLE 555)

Also new is a piezoelectric tiebar stress/strain transducer for molding machines, which is said to be unusually convenient in that it can be mounted in a smooth (i.e., untapped) hole in the tiebar. That's because a special internal mounting insert goes into the tiebar hole, and the transducer is threaded into the insert. The sensor can be used for indirect measurement of cavity pressure during injection molding. (CIRCLE 556)

Coming soon from CMC is a "four-in-one" tiebar balancing system, in which four signal conditioners sense and display the stress and strain in all four tiebars simultaneously. (CIRCLE 557)

Multi-Zone

Temperature Control

A rack-mounted temperature-control system that uses multiple, modular, four-zone temperature (or mA/mV) controllers and a single "local master" dumb terminal has been introduced by S and B Controls, Norristown, Pa. Series 1000 systems are available in various configurations and are suited for close temperature control of several zones.

The "brain" of the system is the Local Master unit (BEK20), which mounts directly on standard 19-in. relay racks and permits local access with or without a computer or PLC. Two other types of modular units can be added in any combination to provide a complete system: RCK-4 four-zone PID controllers, which can be configured for heating-only or heating-and-cooling action; and RCK-4P PID controllers that also incorporate 12 digital inputs and outputs. (CIRCLE 559)

Single-Zone

Hot-Runner Control

A new single-zone temperature control designed for hot sprue bushings and single-zone hot-runner applications has been designed by Orycon Control Technology, Ocean, N.J. Model SF-400 has a diagnostic look-up table on the front panel that helps point out likely problems, such as open or reversed thermocouple, open heater, and shorted thermocouple. The controllers are supplied with a single connector for power and thermocouple.

Automatic warm-up or "soft start" is standard, and ground-fault protection is optional. A standard audible alarm warns of process temperature over setpoint, open thermocouple, or groundfault conditions in units with that option. Large LCD display indicates either setpoint, process temperature at thermocouple location, or percentage of wattage when in manual open-loop mode.

Prices are $487 for the 15-amp model and $725 for the 30-amp model. (CIRCLE 560)

Digital Pocket

Thermometers

Digital pocket thermometers from Telatemp Corp., Fullerton, Calif., have a 5-in. pointed, stainless-steel probe and a swivel head with LED display that rotates through 180 [degrees] for easy reading. The PT series has +/- 0.5% accuracy and 0.1 [degrees] F resolution for measurements between -40 F and +230 F. The LED display updates itself automatically every 15 sec, and pushing a button on the face of the display gives an instant temperature update. Price is $29.95. (CIRCLE 558)

Hand-Held I-R

Thermometer

Model 18125 digital, noncontact infrared thermometer from Kernco Instruments Co., El Paso, Texas, is capable of measuring at a distance temperatures from -50 F to +500 F. The unit is easy to use: sight the target area in the viewfinder, focus the target spot, and read the temperature. The unit is light and compact, and can be operated with one hand.

It has three operating modes: continuous measurement, peak measurement, and continuous monitoring. Other features include adjustable emissivity, 0.5-sec response time, and 8-14 micron operating wavelength. (CIRCLE 561)

Auto-Tuning

Temperature Control

A new 1/16 DIN, microprocessor-based temperature control from Ogden Manufacturing, Arlington Heights, Ill., features automatic tuning. No dip switches or keys are required on the ETR 9080, because all control functions are configurable with front-panel buttons. (CIRCLE 562)

Machine-Mounted

Dryer

A new lightweight desiccant dryer, called the Dri-Pak 12/24, was recently introduced by Thoreson-McCosh Inc., Troy, Mich. The new dryer has microprocessor temperature control with digital display, closed-loop air flow, a single blower and single bed. (CIRCLE 563)

Throatless Hopper

Loader

A small, stainless-steel, throatless hopper loader that reportedly can provide throughputs higher than other small hopper loaders has been developed by Conair Franklin, Franklin, Pa. The new Model 5 K-Loader holds 5 lb of material. Its air-tight mount at the throat of the press is said to eliminate the need for a receiving hopper, so that material for molding is conveyed from a dryer only as the press requires it. A sight glass at the base of the hopper acts as the receiving hopper and displays loaded material. An adjustable sensor in the sight glass can activate a conveying system when the material level in the loader drops below a certain level. (CIRCLE 564)

Conveyors for

Recycling

Recy Systems, a new division of EMI Plastics Equipment Corp., Jackson Center, Ohio, has introduced a series of "recycling conveyors" with a narrow gap between frame and conveying belt, making it easier to handle raw materials in recycling operations. By reducing the space between the frame and belt to 5/8 in., EMI's new Unislide conveyors, virtually eliminate the possibility of material catching between the frame and side rail, the company says. This in turn reduces the chances of belt damage and jam-ups. The redesign also allows EMI to utilize wider belts while reducing the overall width of the conveyor, allowing the new units to more easily feed the small feed openings of granulators and shredders. (CIRCLE 565)

New Player in

Guillotines

G.F. Goodman & Sons, Ins., Warminster, Pa., manufacturer of guillotine cutters for rubber, recently entered the plastics market with five cutters. The models range from a bench model with a 19 x 8 in. opening under the blade, 2 1/2-in.-bore hydraulic cylinder and 3 tons of cutting force, to a model with 30 x 39 in. blade opening, 6-in.-bore hydraulic cylinders and 18 tons of force at the blade. (CIRCLE 2)

Presence/Absence

Detector

A radio-frequency presence/absence detector that helps protect equipment and prevent waste or spills is offered by Princo Instruments, Southampton, Pa. The Model L2515 detector can sense the presence or absence of material in a pipeline and shut down a malfunctioning process, or protect sensitive equipment (such as a pump) before it is damaged by dry running. The detector can also be used to indicate presence of material in overflow or waste lines and alarm and/or shut down the process before material is spilled or lost.

The model 2515 consists of an electronics unit housed in a heavy-duty, cast-aluminum, weatherproof and explosion-proof enclosure, and an integrally mounted sensor flange. Flanges are available in standard pipe sizes of 1-12 in., and sensors can withstand process temperatures from -300 F to +300 F. (CIRCLE 4)

Precision Scales

With Filtering

Model PCS-II electronic scales with Adaptive Digital Filtering (ADF) are being offered by Circuits & Systems, Inc., East Rockaway, N.Y. Capacities range from 60 g to 26.4 lb, with sensitivities starting at 0.1 mg. ADF is said to increase the readout stability by determining when the load on the platform is not changing. This allows a more accurate display and quicker response to change in the load. The scales will read in pounds, grams, ounces, or kilograms. Price starts at $728 for 12-kg capacity. (CIRCLE 8)

Static Removal

A new static-bar and power-pack line from Tantec Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., has been developed to eliminate static build-up in converting and packaging systems. The S-Line of static-removal equipment is built in the United States using European technology. Features include high-integrity cable connections for reliability and safety, and a built-in, lighted on/off switch for troubleshooting. Power packs are two-out-let, 110-v configurations, although other voltages are available.

The static bar has integral cable grounding and flexible, shielded cable for easy, safe installation; and cleanable emitter points for continued efficient operation. (CIRCLE 548)

Contactless Web

Cleaner

The Mark V noncontacting web cleaner from Herber Products, Westbury, N.Y., uses a high-velocity air curtain to lift static-neutralized contaminants from webs into a powerful vacuum that carries them to filter collectors. Compressed air is forced through a 2-mil slot extending the width of the web to create a focused, high-velocity curtain of air.

The Mark V uses either electronic or nuclear static eliminators at the entrance and exit to the system, in order to neutralize the web and contaminants and eliminate static attraction, and also to eliminate any charges on the web created by air friction during the cleaning itself. (CIRCLe 49)

Tension Control

Pay-Off System

An automatic, motor-assisted tension-control pay-off system has been introduced by Watson Machinery International Inc., Paterson, N.J. Tension is said to be constant for reel speeds up to 300 rpm, regardless of the quantity of the product on the reel or the reel size itself. A built-in product-break sensor signals the loss of tension. Reel sizes up to 250 lb can be accommodated. (CIRCLE 31)

Of 474 custom processors responding to our first-quarter survey in early April, 44% had nothing good to say about business conditions, while 50% were satisfied or optimistic--just the reverse of the proportions in the preceding two quarters. And whether their business was currently in the doldrums or not, 29% of the respondents thought conditions were improving or about to be.

There's a comforting suggestion in these data that the recession may already have bottomed out, at least for custom plastics processors. However, the current data are not so rosy. Average custom machine-capacity utilization slumped two points to 67%, the lowest since early 1983 and the fifth quarterly decline in a row.

However, the news was not all bad across the country. New England, which had ranked lowest among regions of the U.S. in average custom capacity utilization for almost two years, actually gained two points in the first quarter, and the West gained one point. This time, the North Central industrial heartland occupied the bottom of the chart, while the West and South Central regions were tied for highest operating rates.

Custom injection molding held even from the last quarter of 1990, while compression/transfer gained several points in capacity utilization.

The 46% of responding plants whose operating rates declined from the preceding quarter outnumbered the 31% whose operating rates improved; but that was less than the 48/22 ratio in the quarter before. And while 26% of custom plants cut back on the number of shifts or hours worked--the same as in the quarter before--13% of plants added shifts or work hours, an increase of three points.

TOOLING ORDERS NOSEDIVE

One of the less favorable leading indicators is the sharp quarterly decline in new tooling orders reported by 243 tool shops in this survey. The drop was steepest at North Central shops, and mild or nonexistent in the West, where a 6% increase in dollar value of orders was reported.

Decline in demand for most engineering thermoplastics during the first half of this year has resulted in generally flat to soft pricing. Still, suppliers say that any price erosion that has occurred is far less dramatic than in the large-volume commodity thermoplastics. This they generally attribute to the fact that the price hikes issued for engineering polymers last year were not tied to the runup in feedstock costs resulting from the Persian Gulf crisis. While there is some downward pressure from declining raw-material costs this year, it is apparent that the supply/demand factor is a far more important influence on current prices.

PET, PBT PRICES STABLE

Despite the downward pressure that has resulted from decreasing feedstock prices, suppliers of PET resins have maintained price stability through much of the first two quarters of this year, and they expect to continue to do so in the third quarter. Selling prices of bottle-grade material are still holding at 65-67 [cents]/lb, although there are some rumblings of lower price deals being made on an individual account basis.

Suppliers concede that there's been considerable downward pressure from lowered prices of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstocks. Both feedstock prices dropped a total of around 3.5 [cents]/lb through mid-May. At the same time, however, suppliers characterized demand for PET resins as strong, with inventory levels reported to be tight along the chain.

Said one leading supplier contacted in late April, "We're sold out. This is the start of the heavy buying period for us--with the heaviest in May, June and July. We would like to maintain stable resin prices through this somewhat tight supply period, so I don't see prices moving downwards before well into the third quarter."

A 10-15% decline in demand for PBT resins occurred during the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 1990. Pricing, however, is reported to have held relatively stable. Says one major supplier, "I think prices have gone as low as they can get. While I am not expecting any significant erosion, I also don't see any moves being made to hike prices for the remainder of this year." Most suppliers do concede that some price cutting has taken place, but they say this has been primarily within the automotive area and on a small scale.

PC HOLDS ITS OWN

Despite slowed demand, polycarbonate resin prices are reported to have held relatively stable so far in 1991. Moreover, sources at suppliers say they will aim to keep prices where they are, as they anticipate some upturn in the economy and don't expect feedstock costs to drop any further than they already have.

NYLON, ACETAL TABS SOFTER

Significant declines in domestic demand for nylon 6 and 66, coupled with declining feedstock costs and inventory buildup, are producing downward pressure on pricing--particularly in nylon 66, where considerable competitive pricing activity has emerged. Says one producer, "This is not the doing of the major resin suppliers but rather of some smaller compounders." Selling prices for nylon 66 are in the range of $1.33-1.37/lb, down from $1.37-1.43/lb.

For nylon 6, however, some suppliers say prices have been holding much more stable since the last price increase was issued in late 1990, and have even firmed up lately. Selling prices for nylon 6 are quoted at $1.31-1.35/lb. Mineral-filled grades are selling at $1.28-1.36/lb. Nylon 6 with 30% glass is in a range of $1.56-1.60/lb.

Polyacetal resin pricing is softer as demand continues to wane, particularly in automotive. And new resin capacity has been coming onstream abroad, particularly in Korea, which has put a damper on exports.

Implementation of the last industrywide price increases--in the range of 4-8%--issued last October, appears to have largely failed. "We had a few places where we were able to implement those increases, but I would say we were not very successful," says one supplier. Suppliers maintain that resin prices have generally remained flat in 1991, though they concede that a certain degree of erosion has taken place. If the economy continues in a downturn, suppliers believe acetal prices could decline further.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:for plastics exhibition
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:14172
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