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Fakuma 2017 drew down its curtain onOctober 21, celebrating its 25th edition with a record number of exhibitors andvisitors, living up to its reputation as an elite marketplace for the plasticsand rubber processing industry.


The new-look Allrounder 920 H with a clamping force of 5,000kN.
The new-look Allrounder 920 H with a clamping force of 5,000kN.

This year, 1889 exhibitors from 38 countries occupied 85,000sqm of space in Friedrichshafen Exhibition Center, of which 783 exhibitors came from outside of Germany. Across five days from October 17-21, the show attracted 48,375 visitors from 128 countries.

Sandra Füllsack, Spokesperson of the Fakuma exhibitor advisory committee, described the show as “a plastics marketplace with family atmosphere”, offering genuine business opportunities for the plastics and rubber processing industry.

This is a carefully planned position taken upon by Paul E. Schall, the Founder of Fakuma and the organizer P.E. Schall GmbH & Co. KG who passed away in 2016. He once said, “What’s technologically conceivable is presented to a large audience at K, whereas practitioners deal with the technically feasible at Fakuma.”

Long-standing exhibitors satisfied with Fakuma

Arburg and Engel, both long-standing exhibitors at Fakuma, have expressed their satisfaction with the show.

We received many firm enquiries, business is excellent – for our customers from all industries as well as for us. During such boom times, production-efficient machine technology, individually tailored solutions and reliable service are especially in demand,” said Michael Hehl, Managing Partner and Spokesperson for the Arburg Management Team.

As the show’s co-founder, “Practical relevance” was the keyword for Arburg here. “At the Fakuma, unlike the K we are not focusing on a revolutionary future, but rather on evolutionary and highly practical solutions, which our customers can use immediately to increase the efficiency of their production,” he said.

Highlights of Arburg included two large hybrid injection molding machines, the Allrounder 1120 H and Allrounder 920 H with a new design and featuring the new visionary Gestica control system.

The new-look Allrounder 920 H with a clamping force of 5,000kN made its debut in Friedrichshafen. The exhibit was equipped with the linear Multilift V 40 robotic system and produced 720g housings of which seven units at a time were packaged in boxes inline.

The Allrounder 1120 H with a clamping force of 6,500kN, which produced the popular folding step stool in the Arburg design as part of a sophisticated turnkey solution, can be ordered by customers worldwide as of Fakuma 2017.

As a third point of attraction, Arburg presented a new practical example of Industry 4.0 that was tailored specifically to the requirements of the injection molding sector. A compact turnkey system featuring a vertical Allrounder 375 V produced flexibly tension straps in various lengths, colors and end piece combinations on demand from shot-to-shot – without any need for conversion.

Visitors could enter the desired tension strap variant directly at the terminal, causing the order to be transmitted directly to the central Selogica control system via the OPC UA communication protocol. The tension strap was automatically cut to the selected length, both ends spliced by means of a plasma process and placed in the cavities of the four-cavity mold in accordance with the order.

Handling was performed by a six-axis robot compactly housed within the installation area. The inserts were optionally overmolded in hook/hook, hook/eyelet or eyelet/eyelet combinations and the finished tension strap then removed from the system.

Business wise, Hehl revealed that turnover of Arburg is expected to reach record level again in 2017, topping the previous high of €636 million set one year ago, and also setting the record for the fourth consecutive years.
Engel welcomed several hundred visitors each day during the show.
Engel Austria was one of the very first exhibitors at the 1981 premiere of Fakuma, witnessing now this regionally focused exhibition turned into an internationalized trade fair.

At the Fakuma, one can communicate with customers and partners in a relaxed manner. The quality of conversations was very high again this year,” said Engel CSO Dr. Christoph Steger.

Its booth accepted several hundred visitors per day, according to the company, thereby registering a higher than expected number of confirmed sales at the show, with orders combing from both existing and new customers.

The very positive mood in Friedrichshafen is an important indicator, both in Europe and worldwide, for the ongoing good economy in the plastics industry,” said Dr. Steger.

In fact, Engel has continued its strong growth in recent years. It is expecting revenues of approximately €1.5 billion in the current fiscal year, a growth of more than 15% compared with the previous year’s total of €1.3 billion.

At 55%, Europe represents the lion’s share of revenue. At this time, Engel is achieving 24% of its revenue in America and 20% in Asia.

Germany is one of the highest revenue markets of the Engel Group, as sales increased by 50% over the last five years. “Germany continues to be the most technologically advanced market and the greatest driver of innovation,” emphasized Dr. Steger. “In addition, German companies are continuing to advance their global expansion.”

In order to meeting the rising demand, Engel has begun an investment program three years ago that will see €375 million being used in upgrade and construction of its production facilities until 2020.

The Engel Deutschland Technologieforum Stuttgart, the youngest of the four German subsidiaries, has more than doubled its amount of personnel since opening in April of 2013. Since September of this year, the location includes a MuCell competence center that is equipped with a large foam injection molding cell for customer trials.

Its Hannover branch has significantly expanded and modernized with €5 billion investment. A new interactive technology center accommodates large machines with clamping forces up to 7,000kN. In addition to varying showpieces, the topics of lightweight construction and inject 4.0 are two permanent main exhibit areas.

One of the major expansions currently underway is at Engel’s Schwertberg headquarters in Austria. By autumn of 2018, the northern production hall there, which was constructed in 2013, will be expanded by 11,500sqm. In addition a new, significantly larger customer technology center is being built.

Elite suppliers reported favorable businesses

 

During the show, other leading injection molding machines makers, including KraussMaffei, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag andWittmann Battenfeld, have all reported healthy growth in 2017.
KraussMaffei’s booth at Fakuma 2017.
The KraussMaffei Group is on course for another record-setting year, as orders and sales for 2017 as of the end of August have exceeded the previous high set in 2016 by up to 10%.

China, according to Group CEO Dr. Frank Stieler, has increasingly becoming the driver of growth. “China and other Asian markets will increasingly become more important for us in the future. Through our new owner ChemChina, we now have even better access to the market than ever before. That’s something we intend to build on.”

On account of high demand, KraussMaffei’s plant in Haiyan, China has already doubled its production volume and expects to see an additional increase in 2018. “We’re integrating our plants for our supply chain and new products,” he said.

Last year’s excellent order book and continuing strong sales in the current year is expected to boost Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s turnover by 17% to €273 million, beating its previous record of €234 million in 2016.

According to CEO Gerd Liebig, the company has continued to grow its market share in the two most strategically important product areas: packaging applications and all-electric machines.

In the case of high-speed injection molding machines, such as for thin-wall packaging and screw caps and closures, market share grew from 13% in 2015 to 18% in 2016 and 2017 and is expected to reach 20% in the coming year.

Its market share for all-electric machines increased from 13% in 2015 to 17% in 2016 and on to 18% in 2017. It is expected to reach 20% in 2018.

With an increase of 20% in incoming orders anticipated for the current year, sales in 2018 is expected to grow by 22%. Sumitomo (SHI) Demag sees renewed impetus from the medical products and plastic packaging materials markets, along with orders for machinery with increased automation, and expanded service offerings.
The Wittmann Group’s General Manager, Michael Wittmann.
The Wittmann Group is able to build on the favorable momentum last year with a sales increase of 8% in 2017 to €405 million.

Incoming order is still at a very high level, with especially strong demand for its EcoPower all-electric injection molding machines this year, according to General Manager, Michael Wittmann. Sales of automation and peripheral equipment is also growing in all areas, he said.

As a result, the company is target sales of €440-450 million for 2018.

The European market is mostly positive, he said, with growth in Poland, Spain and France. In Eastern Europe, growth was achieved also in Czech Republic and Slovakia, while Russia is also returning.

In May, the Wittmann Group announced a €15 million investment to expand capacities at its injection molding machine manufacturing facility in Kottingbrunn, Austria.

The extension of the north and south part of the production plant will be finished by December, while the expansion of the office building is expected to conclude in 2018 Spring.

Latest unveilings under the spotlight

Other exhibitors have chosen Fakuma to unveil their latest technology, process, tooling and product innovations as far as plastics processing is concerned.
Bettina König (left), Global Marketing Communications Director of Coperion, and Giuseppe Martino, Regional Sales Manager of Coperion K-Tron.

To significantly increase throughput rates, Coperion, celebrating the 60th anniversary of its ZSK extruder series this year, has developed special involute screw and kneading elements with a new and patented cross section design.

The company is These screw elements are ideal for highly-filled recipes (70-85% CaCO3, TiO2, mainly based on PP/PE and 20-50% talc for automotive grades) for which the dispersion rating and the incorporation of the filler represents a limitation.

Besides higher throughput rates, these involute screw elements ensure higher loading of filler, better dispersion and homogenization, lower energy consumption (SEI in kWh/kg) and a significant increase in profitability.

Comprehensive tests at Coperion’s test lab in Stuttgart, Germany, showed a remarkable throughput increase depending on the recipe.

For example, when processing polypropylene (PP) and 70% CaCO3 on a twin screw extruder ZSK 58 Mc18 the new screw elements achieved a significant throughput increase from 550kg/h to 900kg/h. Similar results have been reached when processing polyethylene (PE) with 80% CaCO3 on a ZSK 92 Mc18. In this case throughput was increased from 2,200kg/h to 3,000kg/h.
Paolo Gasparotto (right), Business Development Manager, and Laura Bacchia from the Marketing Department, Moretto.
Italian auxiliary equipment supplierMoretto unveiled the Moisture Meter Manager, said to be the only system in the world able to automatically control the moisture level throughout the whole drying treatment of the polymer.

Available on the market in 2018, Moisture Meter Manager creates a fully automatic loop to handle the drying process. It is equipped with an automatic setting function, thus neither human intervention nor off-line calibration is necessary. 

The granulates inside the Moisture Meter are scanned and measured in-line and real-time every 2s. Thanks to the dual control (at the hopper inlet and outlet), Moisture Meter Manager automatically corrects the drying parameters, resulting in remarkable energy efficiency and product quality.

Granule quality reports are provided, with frequencies that can be set according to specific requirements, for example, by piece per piece or with regular setup of every 10-30 minutes or hours as needed.

An exclusive Power-Peak technology assures an accurate residual moisture control of the plastic granule. It verifies that the treatment has been performed according to the pre-established limits.

The adaptive function of this system fully embodies Moisture Meter Manager in the Project 4.0 of Smart Factory, which is MOWIS (Moretto Object Windows Integrated Supervisor) ready.

The new Moisture Meter Manager is important as the market has been looking for something like that for 25 years,” commented Paolo Gasparotto, Business Development Manager of Moretto. “It can be applied to a wide range of products, such as medical, automotive, etc.”
Peter Fischer, Marketing Director of Sonderhoff Holding GmbH.
The Sonderhoff Group, part of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA since July this year, presented the newly-developed FIP CC (Formed In-Place Closed-Cell) technology at the show.

The technology, which offers high water resistance with attractive material costs, was demonstrated live with the new DM 402 CC mixing and dosing system, in conjunction with the new polyurethane (PU) foam Fermapor CC, at the Sonderhoff booth.

The new foam sealant system is based on polyurethane and is intended for applications requiring high resistance to water. It is a room temperature crosslinking two-component system that forms a predominantly closed-cell PU soft foam seal with the newly-developed FIP CC foaming process.

The foam structure comprises fine-cells which are dense and particularly uniform and is 90% less air-permeable than mixed-cell PU foam. Even if the surface should be damaged due to the application, the water intake is only slightly affected.

It is a very special development because there’re a lot more closed-cells inside the system,” said Peter Fischer, Marketing Director of Sonderhoff Holding GmbH.

The novelty here is that we have increased the number of closed cells, which means the water absorbed by the material is reduced and even if we’re stretching the surface – the first level of cells, underneath there’re already closed-cells. The machines were using are of middle to low pressure and the production will be more cost-effective.”

The technology closes the gap between high-priced closed-cell materials such as silicone foam and lower-priced mixed-cell PU foam, offering users of one-component sealing technology an economical alternative.

We’re looking to attract the one-component gasket market. We’ll start to inform all the OEMs of the automotive industry, which always requires high quality,” Fischer said.

Sonderhoff has developed the new DM 402 CC mixing and dosing system for dispensing the 2C polyurethane foam Fermapor CC. The application process itself follows the well-known FIPFG process, a production standard in many industries.

Dr. Dietmar Mäder, Global Head of Plastics, Marketing & Technical Service, Eckart GmbH.Eckart introduced its latest chromatic synthetic pearlescent pigments, Edelstein Ruby Red, which features inimitable red color intensity, high chemical stability, and easy incorporation in all common applications.

Edelstein is the German word for jewel. The company made use of its patented coating technology and the premium synthetic silicate to create the effects.

This is a new product and also new chemistry, produced with completely new technology. We had to develop the new technology to get this nice color intensity and purity as well as this sparkling effect. And because it’s a new technology, we also gave it a new name – Edelstein,” said Dr. Dietmar Mäder, Global Head of Plastics, Marketing & Technical Service, Eckart GmbH.

Ruby Red is the premium red instead of low-end commodity red. Red is not a new color, but with this brilliance and effect, spark and gloss, this is a kind of unique product that is likely to be the trend for next year or the year after, he said.

We have done test-marketing with customers a few months before launching it at Fakuma and the product has been very well-received. The customers have approved it. We’re pretty sure that next year, the trend will be seen in the packaging industry,” Dr. Mäder noted.

If you’re a little bit more sensitive in watching the trend, you’d realize all of a sudden there’s a lot more red in the industry. I’m not only talking about lipstick, but also furniture, chairs…everything fits together.”

Recycling boom is near

Harald Bleier, Cluster Manager for Plastics and Mechatronics of ecoplus.Recycling will be coming of age in the near future, according to Harald Bleier, Cluster Manager for Plastics and Mechatronics of ecoplus, the business agency of Lower Austria.

More recyclers are emerging, along with the trends of reducing carbon emission, as well as blending new and recycled materials, he said.

The recycling field is set to explode in the next 10 years, being propelled by regulations to protect the mother earth,” he said. “It’s time to think of new solutions.”

Recycling plastics is not easy, Bleier admitted, and it requires a lot of new innovation to be effective.

EREMA is among the leaders in Austria in recycling technology. It presented the EREMA Laserfilter, a continuous filter system with screen fineness of 70µm is now in operation for the first time at Fakuma 2017. An even gentler filtration process has been made possible by rheological optimization of the support breaker plate, enabling a reduction of flow resistance.

Bleier said Austria has set a target of recycling 65% of used plastics by 2030. “At the moment, we can reach 70% in recycling plastic bottles, but we need more technologies for recycling other products.”

In recycling, Asia is expected to grow at a faster pace in coming years as governments encourage the use of recycled materials, according to Ralf Simon, Managing Director of Nordson BKG GmbH & Nordson PPS GmbH.

There will be more investments in recycling technology in the future and the market potential for such technology is huge in Asia, particularly China, he said.

In Europe, there are a lot of regulations on recycling but in China I don’t think there’s one on the percentage of recycled materials used in a product. In my opinion, the government can do more. I think the trend has already started and the recycling industry is set to grow.”
Ralf Simon, Managing Director of Nordson BKG GmbH & Nordson PPS GmbH.
US-based Nordson highlighted its BKGR HiCon R-Type 250, which is designed for recyclers to filter highly contaminated materials when normal screen changer cannot be used.

The system transforms highly contaminated polyolefin or styrenic plastics into clean, high quality material and exhibits less melt loss than with traditional backflush systems for highly contaminated plastics.

The automated system operates at a maximum pressure of 350 bar and maximum temperature of 320°C. The throughput can range from 500-1,500kg/h, depending on polymer viscosity, filtration fineness and level of contamination.

Simon said there is room for more recycling technology in the market. “At the moment, the recycling market is mainly about recycling PET bottles. Our market is more related to virgin polymer and compounding, but maybe in the next two to three years, the scenario will change,” he said.

Nordson has recently delivered “the world’s largest PET pelletizing system” for PET bottle grade chips to a customer in China.

We have already delivered the system, which has a capacity of 3,500 tons per day, and are doing the commissioning. In the meantime, there are a lot of bigger projects at the moment in China. Companies are really investing in European technology – not only in PET, but also in polyester, polyamide, polycarbonate and in compounding industry mainly related to TPU. There is really a huge market for us.”

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