With its rapid economic growth, China has become the most influential country in the plastics markets worldwide. Last year, the total output of plastic products in China reached 57 million tons, representing a growth of 9% compared to 2011. And the total sales value of plastic products was about €194,8 billion (RMB 1,600 billion), a 15% growth compared to 2011. Once again, Chinaplas 2013 reflected this dynamic development. 2,900 exhibitors from 38 countries shared a total area of 220,000m². More than 3,200 sets of machines were on display in 25 exhibition halls. The four-day show’s 114,000 visitors (not including exhibitor staff and media) represented an increase of approximately 4% compared to the Chinaplas 2012 show in Shanghai.
The international component of Chinaplas also continues to grow, with visitors from outside China increasing to 27%, up from 25% at the previous Shanghai show. Chinaplas is certainly no longer a “Chinese Affair”, but the meeting point of suppliers and customers from the West, Asia and Middle East. Not much has changed over the previous years. New Chinese machinery manufacturers appear virtually out of nowhere and present working machines, while other companies from previous years have disappeared. The copying of other company’s technologies is still wide-spread and common. Visitors, equipped with digital cameras and iPhones, not only take pictures of every part of the machines, some even crawl directly into the clamping unit of the machine in order to snatch a close-up view. Stand personnel had to push back the crowds. Some companies, for instance, Akei frantically erected additional barriers only a few hours after the show started. Some companies relied on external security guards.
Although the organiser is keen to expand the show by another day to five days, some participants question the logic of an annual show which incurs significant costs, especially when machines are exhibited or in operation. Some PET technology leaders, such as KHS, Sidel and Husky, did not take part this year.
There is a trend by Chinese machinery manufacturers of using higher quality electrical components and drives. For instance, established manufacturers and exporters of extrusion lines such as Liansu and Jwell now not only offer different drive options, but also equip their control cabinets with branded high-quality components. During the show, some Chinese manufacturers even equipped the control cabinet with a transparent door to show their commitment to use higher-quality components. In line with this “electrical” upgrade, many Chinese machinery manufacturers have again increased the overall appearance and quality of their machines. The gap between West and East becomes smaller.
New factory, more sales
“Delivery of the locally produced MX marks a new chapter in the twelve-year history of KraussMaffei in China,” said Harald Schweitzer (CEO China) during the company’s press conference. Extrusion and reaction process machines have been produced in China for several years. And now assembly of the MX series injection moulding machines got off the ground at the production plant in Haiyan in the first quarter of 2013. The first Chinese assembled MX-850-6100 from the Haiyan production plant was delivered to a long-standing Chinese customer.
At the exhibition booth, KraussMaffei put its major focus on the SkinForm process, a process that combines the advantages of injection moulding and reaction technology. Thermoplastic injection moulded parts with a polyurethane (PU) surface were produced in a manufacturing cell consisting of a CX200-750 injection moulding machine with LRX 150 linear robot and a RimStar Compact 8/8 polyurethane mixing and metering station with a high-pressure mixing head MK 5/8 mounted to the injection mould. Driven by the growing automotive sector and the fact that more local companies are opening factories outside China, the company believes that the SkinForm technology has high potential in China. According to own accounts, KraussMaffei is the only company worldwide which is able to supply all these components from a single source.
Also on display was the locally manufactured swarf-free pipe cutter KM-TRK 250 able to cut PO pipes up to 250mm, the conical twin screw extruder KMD 40 KK/P for profile extrusion, the laboratory twin-screw extruder ZE 25A x 42 D UTXi and twin-screw compounder ZE 62 x 48D.
See also article code KWP.
5,500kN injection moulding machine
Haitian International showcased the latest models of its “Zhafir” and “Haitian” series and also presented the currently largest available all-electric model of the Venus II Series with a clamping force of 5,500kN. According to the company, the new servo drive motors with 75kW and 110kW of this series provide higher response and a simplified hydraulic system. With this energy saving drive concept, the oil consumption can also be reduced by more than 30%. The launch of the new all-electric Venus II series was extended by fourmore clamping sizes, namely 3,000kN, 3,600kN, 4,500kN and 5,500kN. The clamp of the new models provides larger tie bar space and therefore the possibility of using larger moulds.
At the booth a Jupiter II series with 12,000kN clamping force produced an automotive middle console. The Mars II series showcased an application with Micro Foaming Technology and the 100t Mercury series machine produced a medical component in a 32-cavity mould.
This year the company put its focus on affordable machines. “Current market figures demonstrate a strongly growing trend for all-electric machine concepts. But the figures also show the trend is moving noticeably toward affordable solutions,” explaines Prof hc Dipl-Ing Helmar Franz, member of the Executive Board of Haitian International. He sees the cost pressure for his customers becoming ever greater, while their financial scope for operation becoming smaller. In many countries of the world energy is a significant cost factor. Even large international plastic component producers, because of these spiralling costs, can only continue using the injection moulding process if the machine technology can somewhat reduce the cost pressure.
Single and twin screw extruder on display
In recent years, pipe and profile producers have become increasingly environmentally conscious and are demanding highly energy-efficient extruders. As a response, Battenfeld-Cincinnati introduced its new single screw extruder series solEx. Designed for high performance PE-HD and PP pipe extrusion, the extruder offer outputs with small diameter that were previously reserved for much larger machines. With an optimised screw design and a large processing length of 40 L/D, the extruders feature high output figures in relation to capital investment. solEx single extruders offer outputs from 300 to 2,200kg/h in smooth pipe extrusion and from 240 to 1,800kg/h in corrugated pipe extrusion.
Another machine on display was the conEX 72 from the conEX series of conical twin screw extruders. Compared to the previous conical twin screw extruders, the conEX extruder has a wider processing window. With their modest space requirements, conEX extruders are also suitable for coextrusion. The machines are able to process a wide range of PVC compounds and outputs range from 20 to 270kg/h for PVC profiles and from 30 to 500kg/h for PVC pipe.
The company also mentioned that profile producer Wuhu Conch Profiles and Science (Anhui/China) chose Battenfeld-Cincinnati China to supply 24 extruders to expand its PVC processing capacities in 2012.
Additives to compete against PS and PC
Milliken & Company showcased its new range of additive technology for polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). The Millad NX 8000 clarifier for PP, which enables PP to approach the clarity of glass or glass-like polymers, for instance, polycarbonate (PC), also allows the material to be processed at significantly lower temperatures of 190°C to 200°C, a reduction of up to 40°C compared to traditional clarifiers. These cooler temperatures reduce energy consumption and can help moulders to increase throughput and thereby drive down system costs. With less heat to remove, customers can shorten cooling times and increase productivity. More than 100 trials carried out by Milliken have proved that the additive can reduce cycle time of up to 15% and energy savings of up to 10% can be achieved. In general, the Millad clarifying agent allows a broader use of PP, a low-density and easily to recycle plastic, and is aimed to replace materials such as polystyrene (PS) and PC in a wide range of applications including packaging, household and food storage.
Another additive, the Hyperform HPR-803i synthetic reinforcing agent helps to improve mechanical properties and appearance of PP in automotive applications. It can reduce part weight while delivering high stiffness compared to traditional filled automotive compounds. The reinforcing agent, used alone or in combination with talc, provides improved surface finish, scratch resistance and improved colourability. Several samples of interior and exterior auto parts were on display at the booth.
Other nucleating agents from the HPN series enable a wider use of PE in diverse packaging applications. These high-speed nucleating agents provide higher crystallisation temperatures for PP and PE, allowing faster de-moulding of parts to cut cycle times and achieve productivity improvements of up to 20%. Another positive side effect: the nucleating agent helps to “even out” the different processing parameters when producing parts of different colours, for examples, closures. Hyperform HPN-20E nucleator for HDPE is suitable for blown-film, extrusion blow moulding and injection moulding, as well as in LLDPE, especially C4 gas phase LLDPE. In this connection, the company displayed cap/closure samples featuring Hyperform HPN agent.
From hybrid to all-electric
Pioneer since the earliest days of all-electrics, Milacron Plastics Technology presented its range of all-electric and servo hybrid injection moulding machines.
The hybrid F-80 AP40 (800kN clamping force) was producing syringe protectors made of PP (Formosa Plastic Group) in a 64-cavity mould. This is currently the smallest model in the F-series. Outfitted with an Advanced Performance (AP) 40 injection unit, the machine reaches injection speeds of 500mm/s. It features a three-zone screw with a diameter of 40mm and a length of 22 L/D. Tie-bar spacing is 470 x 470mm.
The all-electric injection moulding machine type Elektron 350-1540-60 (3,500kN clamping force, 60mm screw diameter) was moulding shampoo caps made of PP (shell material) in a 16-cavity mould while another all-electric injection moulding machine of type Elektron 180-630-45 (1,800kN clamping force, 45mm screw diameter) was producing a cup holder for automotive applications made of TPV (Exxon Mobil material) in 2-cavity mould. As with accumulator-driven hydraulic machines, the Elektron series offers parallel movements of all axes as a standard feature. And due to the power- and acceleration-optimised 5-point toggle system, large mould opening strokes in a compact design can be realised. The mould installation area can be easily accessed, allowing for quick mould changes.
Process integration reduces cost per unit
The new all-electric Engel e-mac injection moulding machine made its debut at the Chinaplas 2013 demonstrating its capability in technical moulding and the manufacturing of electronic mass products. The company sees an increasing demand for compact, all-electric ijection moulding machines for components which need to have very precise dimensions. From injecting and metering to mould and ejector movements, all drives in the e-mac are servo-electric. And according to the company, the injection axis of the Engel e-mac is now the fastest of its kind in the world with an acceleration of over 20m/s².
Also on display was the well-known Engel e-motion machine type 440/160 T producing thin-walled margarine tubs in a 2-cavity mould. The unit costs are low due to integrated in-mould labelling. Ready-to-fill food packaging with decorations was manufactured in a single step.
In the automotive exhibition section, the company presented a new form of foil back injection and produced a centre console in an automated production cell on an Engel duo 2050/400 pico injection moulding machine. While a preformed capacitive foil is back injected with PC/ABS on one side of the mould, the basic component is coated with polyurethane on the other to protect the surface and give it a premium appearace. The technology, which is marketed under the name of Sensitive Surface is based on the Engel clearmelt process, and the touch skin technology by plastic electronic in Linz, Austria.
1,200mm PE die with external exhausting device
The special exhibit of Suzhou Jwell Machinery was an external blower which blows the hot air from the inside of the newly formed pipe in order to cool the inside of the pipe faster. It is said that this “external exhaust device” reduces the power and water consumption while at the same time reducing pipe wall thickness deviation and increasing output. Similar devices, applied to large-diameter PE pipe dies, were also shown from other Chinese manufacturers. Also on display: the conical extruder type 72/152 SJZ for PVC profiles (220-270kg/h), which will eventually replace the previous models SJZ65/132 and SJZ80/156, and a swarfless PE cutting unit for pipes of 250-630mm.
High torque extruder motors
China Liansu Group Holdings exhibited its range of extruders with different drive units, from a gearless high-torque motor to AC drives and gearboxes from European suppliers. For instance, the conical twin screw extruder LSE-65 (diameter 65/132mm) with an output of 280kg/h was equipped with an AC motor from Siemens and a gearbox from Italian company Zambello. The 65mm single screw extruder GLSS-65 (L/D of 35:1) for HDPE (480kg/h) and PP (340kg/h) pipe extrusion was equipped with a 106kW gearless motor. The nitrided screws are made from imported Japanese steel. Also on display was the swarfless PE pipe cutter LSWQ-1200 (400-1,200mm, SDR41-SDR17) with an automatic V-shape clamping unit, which does not need changing for different pipe sizes.
The Master series on display
The machines on display at the Chen Hsong booth were an Ultramaster UM-2000-X, Jetmaster JM178AiSVP2/HS, Supermaster SM150HDCV, Easymaster EM120-EC and Minijet MJ20-H/SVP2.
The Ultramaster UM-2000-X is a two-platen injection moulding machine which is manufactured under licence from Mitsubishi Plastic Technology. The UM-X series employs a unique high-precision servo drive train that is said to be more energy–efficient than common hydraulic or servo drive system. The machine is available in the range of 1,600, 2,000, 2,500 and 3,000t clamping force.
As the name indicates, the Minijet MJ20-H/SVP2 is intended to produce the smallest of high-precision parts. Two different clamping units are available: toggle and hydraulic clamping unit. The clamping forces of the different models range from 200-550t.
The Jetmaster JM178AiSVP2/HS is best described as the “all-rounder”, the company’s second generation in its servo drive series. The Easymaster EM120V-PET is specially designed for PET applications, being equipped with a special PET screw design. In addition, screw and related parts are chrome plated for higher durability and easier cleaning. The Easymaster is available in ranges from 80 to 560t and usually part of the Chen-PET system.
Five-layer pipe line running at show
An exceptionally demanding pipe application was shown at another Chinese booth. Zhejiang Shuanglin Plastic Machinery ran a complete co-extrusion EVOH pipe line consisting of a five-layer structure (PE/Adhesive/EVOH/Adhesive/PE) with a speed of maximum 10m/min.