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Kunststoffe '92 attract 260,000+ to Dusseldorf.

K'92, the 12th triennial International Trade Fair of Plastics and Rubber, held in Dusseldorf, Germany, in late October and early November, was a tremendous exhibition of the plastic's industry's current--and awesome--capabilities. As for visions of the future, however, K'92 left whatever is yet to unfold pretty much to one's own imagination.

After a period of accelerated development, with growth rates running into double figures, it appears that the industry is catching its breath, marking time as it considers its future agendas. The sluggish world economy, a Europe with increasingly indistinct borders, the sudden challenges of multinational markets, and rising pressures for waste control and recycling have caused a hiatus in new product development and commercialization. But most important is the fact that the plastics industry has moved from adolescence to maturity. K'92 documented how much has been accomplished, and, because of the existing high degree of technological refinement, how much the window of opportunity for radical or major innovation has narrowed.

The 2227 exhibitors (87 from the U.S.) from 40 countries displayed their existing products and know-how for the more than 260,000 visitors from 114 countries. Fifty percent of the visitors were from outside Germany. But the anticipation that K'92 would be the launching platform for major innovations did not materialize, except for incremental refinements. If the billing of K'92 as "a vision of the future" was accurate, then we can become instant prophets by a close study of the present.

However, even if announcements of new materials and designs were not busting out all over, interaction between visitors and exhibitors was vigorous. We are now apparently in an era of concentration on marketing, with a focus on competence, quality, and cost effectiveness--rather than "Have you seen our new widget?"--as the most effective sales tools.

Among the limited number of new materials, Dow Plastics projected its recently announced constrained geometry catalyst technology (CGCT), which provides unique elastomeric properties and exceptional toughness, without sacrifice of processability. Two emerging families of CGCT resins include polyolefin plastomers, which bridge the gap between elastomers and thermoplastics, with better tear resistance, higher clarity, and lower modulus than traditional polyolefins; and polyolefin elastomers, which are characterized by a high degree of elasticity and excellent impact properties.

Another new technology discussed by Dow is a crystalline polystyrene synthesized from styrene monomer using a proprietary catalyst system. Jointly announced by Dow and Idemitsu Petrochemical, Syndiotactic Polystyrene (SPS) provides a molecular structure that offers a high melting point of 270|degrees~C and a range of properties such as improved chemical resistance and water resistance, dimensional stability, impact resistance, and electrical properties.

In addition, Dow announced its technology of polymeric reflective materials (PRM) for creating a sheet material composed of thousands of alternating layers of two dissimilar materials (now polycarbonate and acrylic), and which, under controlled extrusion conditions, yields a sheet with a mirror-like appearance. When the back layer is a color--red, for example--the finish looks metallic in ambient light. The light transmission and reflective properties of PRM suggest many possible applications for a "metallic-like" polymer with optical qualities and the processing benefits of thermoplastics.

Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., which recently diversified its machine line from 135 to 4000 tons, is now offering integrated two-stage stretch-blow molding systems; tandem machines; and a line of multimaterial machines and hot runner components and systems. A new 9000 series of hot runner temperature controllers for monitoring the company's injection molding equipment features a digital display with many diagnostics and the ability to communicate with other equipment. The control anticipates when it will reach a setpoint and adjusts the power to limit the amount of overshoot. Troubleshooting is simplified with a user-friendly "dead screen" feature, which turns off all LEDs except those showing that the system is within operating range. As soon as the controller senses a problem, the proper element lights up. This reduces the operator's confusion during attempts to isolate the problem while watching a cluster of flashing lights.

Husky's Sealed Edge Gate hot runner nozzle allows molders to edge-gate engineering resin parts by eliminating the insulator bubble commonly found in most edge-gated hot runner systems. The design allows for the gating of multiple parts from an individual nozzle. To eliminate any dead spots between the nozzle and the cavity wall, a seal is created as the heated inner material of the nozzle expands and forces the seal ring against the gate well. A small gap is left between the seal ring and the gate well wall to provide thermal insulation. The seal ring design also distributes the sealing load around the entire gate well, overcoming the "gate punchout" commonly found in competitive systems.

Husky's introduction of an "Ultra" hot runner system addresses the damage caused when the systems are overheated or subjected to cold starts. A disc spring assembly provides a preload that ensures that sealing occurs between the nozzle housing and the manifold, even before any heat is added. As heat is added to bring the system up to operating temperature, and the manifold expands in thickness, the springs take up the additional expansion and ensure a complete seal. The ability to operate with a manifold temperature range of 300|degrees~F to 800|degrees~F provides the means to run different resins with different melt temperatures. A bimetallic clampless heater band that simplifies installation and removal is made from a highly conductive inner sleeve and an outer shell with a much lower coefficient of expansion. As the band heats up, the inner sleeve expands more than the outer shell, causing it to grip the nozzle housing tightly. When the heater cools, the inner sleeve releases for easy removal.

Battenfeld has re-entered the up-to-50-ton market; its new Plus series of standard hydraulic clamp injection molding machines includes 27.6-ton and 38.6-ton clamp force, two-tie-bar machines with smaller (86.61- by 31.5-inch) footprints and the capability of optional storage of machine setups for up to twenty programs, instead of the need for individual dialing. The machines also feature linear potentiometers for setting of injection and clamp positions, rather than electromechanical limit switches. The design features the Unilog 1020 control with a similar panel layout to the 2040 control and includes a troubleshooting module that displays details on where a failure has occurred. Mold sizes up to 10.63 inches (horizontal) by 9.84 inches (vertical) can be accommodated.

Also announced by Battenfeld is the gas injection molding of thermosets by means of the company's Airmould system, in which gas is injected into the mold cavity with pressure, rather than volumetric, control of the gas injection process. In addition to reduced flash, Battenfeld says, the system increases flow through the part. Also shown at K'92 was the CDK-SE closed-loop servo electric machine with toggle clamp and direct servo drive on the injection unit. Targeted for release in July 1993, the machine features a modular system that could be a combination of hydraulic and servo drive.

Battenfeld's CDK/CDC series also includes a ground level for incorporation of peripheral units such as part conveyors, granulators, testing and measuring equipment, and oil and water temperature controllers.

An automatic blow molding machine of Battenfeld's BFB8 Series demonstrated low-scrap blow molding. The extruded parison is placed in the mold by a computer-controlled manipulator. The mold consists of several segments that can be closed independently of one another. As the mold parts close in sequence, the parison is manipulated so that even large, complex parts can be shaped with only a minimum of parison waste at their upper and lower inlets.

Also shown at K'92 was a new Leistritz 27-mm modular, multi-mode co- and counter-rotating twin-screw extruder, on the same drive, which simplifies mode changeovers with a simple gearbox shift lever, rather than requiring a complete change in distribution gearing.

Recycling was emphasized at many exhibits, and a Recycling Center that combined an information and a technology pavilion showed possibilities for materials recovery and reprocessing. Showcased processes included conversion of plastic bottles (PE, PP, and PET) into molded parts; processing of granulate from auto bumpers (PP and EPDM); and shredding, granulation, and pelletizing of polyurethane automotive components and conversion into ornamental hubcaps for buses.

Werner & Pfleiderer Corp. demonstrated PET recycling and direct extrusion without predrying. Undried PET was melted and dried directly in the company's ZSK-40 extruder, with drying accomplished with three extensively heated devolatilization ports. The ZSK-40's side venting configuration prevents both degraded polymer and condensate from dropping back into the screw channel, which could cause defects in the film. The film trim can be re-fed directly back into the extruder without extensive chopping or redrying.

These are but a few of the refinements in plastics technology at K'92, which, with the exception of the endeavors in recycling, were part of an overall framework emphasizing essentially proven materials and designs.

Uwe S. Wascher, senior managing director, General Electric Plastics BV, predicts that at a few "Ks" down the road, given the pressures of global competition, we will probably be seeing more integration of different elements in the production/product delivery chain, with major industrial companies functioning as captive units in alignment with a "leader" that expresses a well-defined global focal point. This, Wascher says, could result in more combined exhibits, rather than the "single company" presentations that are typical today.

The anticipation of important new developments, then, continues.
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Title Annotation:12th triennial International Trade Fair of Plastics and Rubber
Author:Wigotsky, V.
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Previous Article:Analyzing composite properties by rheological testing.
Next Article:Ignition-resisting resins.

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