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K'92 news in RIM & urethanes.

The "ecological" theme was played up in the RIM and urethane machinery exhibits, as everywhere else at the recent K'92 show in Dusseldorf, Germany. Special nucleating units for pre-blending gaseous or low-boiling CFC-substitute blowing agents into polyols were highlighted by Cannon, Elastogran, Gusmer, Hennecke, Impianti OMS, and Krauss-Maffei. In addition, Cannon, Elastogran, Hennecke, and Krauss-Maffei also showcased recycling of RIM and PUR foam by including reground scrap as filler in fresh moldings.

"Economical" was another theme, as some suppliers introduced attractively priced equipment lines that are said to reduce the price gap between high- and low-pressure machines. News in rigid and flexible foam machinery also included more sophisticated controls, new mixheads, and highly automated systems for car inner door panels, building insulation panels, garage doors, slabstock fines, and shoes.


As reported previously, the most unusual new RIM machine design was from Krauss-Maffei, with U.S. offices in Florence, Ky. Intended specifically for reinforced-RIM (RRIM) systems with fast-curing resin systems, the new equipment is designed along the lines of an injection molding machine, with two horizontally mounted lance cylinders hard-plumbed directly to the mixhead. Cylinders and head are mounted on a moving sled that brings the head up to the vertical clamp for the shot and then retracts the head afterward. This "Flow Molding Machine" is said to be faster than a robot mixhead manipulator. And the very short path from the cylinders to the head and mold, with no flexible hoses in between that can shrink and swell with pressure fluctuations, reportedly improves ratio accuracy.

Also reported previously was Krauss-Maffei's new Rim-Star "Eco" range of economically priced machines, which are built in batches to a standard, modular design with relatively few options. These are said to be around 20-30% less expensive than custom-built models. They come on two pallets that can be handled easily with a fork truck. Machines are said to be very easy for the customer to install, assemble and put into operation without assistance. They are also compact, occupying about 5 x 11 ft of floor space. The smallest model (32 liters/min, or 1.14 lb/sec) costs around $70,000. More than 50 of these new Eco machines were sold in their first seven months on the market, say Krauss-Maffei sources in Germany.

Impianti OMS spa of Italy (represented here by IFTA Canada Inc. in Montreal) introduced an economical series of Ecomaster high-pressure machines, at about 15% lower prices than previous models. They retain such features as the rotary pumps and Siemens PLC control, but have a simpler control panel and frame design, as well as redesigned material tanks that use heat exchangers instead of thermal Jacketing. This arrangement is said to be suitable for shot times of up to a minute. Ratio cannot be changed during a shot. Two models offer output capacities from 0.26 to 3.28 lb/sec.

Cannon of Italy (with U.S. offices in Mars, Pa.) showed off its new closed-loop HE-System lance-cylinder metering unit. It now comes with industry-standard controls--completing the conversion of Cannon's line--which consist of a 386-type PC that interfaces with an Allen-Bradley PLC. The PC's color screen shows graphic representations of average ratio, throughput, or any other parameter during any time interval throughout the shot.


Hennecke Machinery (with offices in Pittsburgh) introduced a new compact, low-cost mixhead generation designed for a wide variety of high-pressure applications (foam and elastomer). These "economy-priced" alternatives to Hennecke's MQ head series are said to combine highest mixing quality with "laminar" (splash-free) pouring of the mix. In addition, the new MX heads have the hydraulic valves integrated into the head housing. This reportedly allows very rapid switching and precise shot tolerances, even with long hose lines. Shot times as short as 0.5 sec can be handled without delays and deviations due to "hose breathing," the company says.

Hennecke also announced what are said to be the first high-pressure systems for making hard-toed work boots. So far it has been impossible to impingement-mix the high-viscosity, two-component sole materials for these boots, the company says. The solution was to go to a four-component system (polyol, isocyanate, and two colorant pastes, one containing crosslinker). Hennecke says output rates are double those previously achieved with low-pressure machines.

Statistical process control (SPC) has been a growing trend in high-pressure foam and RIM metering systems. Hennecke displayed its first comprehensive SPC software for molding operations. It displays control charts and histograms for any selected shift, with averages, medians, ranges, limits and standard deviations for such variables as temperature, pressure, quantity and recipe.

Elastogran Machinery (a unit of BASF, with offices in Wyandotte, Mich.) showed off a new example of one of its specialties--automated systems for complex auto-interior components. In this case, a jointed-arm robot was programmed for a door-panel line. It went through the motions of spraying mold release on the tool, followed by a paint containing aliphatic isocyanate, then an elastomer skin. Next, the robot would place a premolded SRIM substrate and two precut fabric pieces into the mold, and finally pour in the flexible foam mix. (The elastomer skin and paint over the fabric areas can easily be stripped off once the part is demolded.) During this cycle, the robot automatically exchanges end-of-arm tooling. First it uses a tool combining three spray heads (for release, paint and elastomer), then lays it down and picks up a pouring head for the foam.


For continuous block-foam production, Hennecke introduced the Quadro-foamat (QFM) system, which for the first time combines the company's familiar UBT system with so-called fall-plate technology. QFM is said to produce perfectly rectangular blocks, similar to the Maxfoam process, but without a license fee or royalty. Also, QFM reportedly is more flexible, in that it can use all traditional polyether chemical systems and can produce a full range of densities with fine cell structure.

Both Hennecke and Elastogran discussed systems with enhanced levels of automation for production of rigid foam sandwich panels for building walls, roofs and garage doors. Both firms discussed automatic flying coil changes for steel facing sheets, and quick-change "cassettes" of profile (embossing) rollers. Elastogran also demonstrated a new head traversing system for panel lines with freely programmable speed profiling. This servomotor-driven system facilitates production of panels with variable thickness.


One new exhibit for low-pressure elastomer pouring was the EL 2002 series of machines from Impianti OMS. They're designed to run prepolymers that require heating to be kept molten. A new heating system uses hot oil when running and battery-powered electric heating of circulating air when idle. This system is said to be both economical and "failsafe" in case of loss of electrical power. It allows tanks to be heated up to 266 F. Output rates can be from 1 lb to 8.25 lb/min.
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Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Previous Article:'Fuzzy logic' helps sharpen up injection mold designs.
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