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Multicomponent Molding Services Key to Company’s Growth

Originally Published MPMN March 2004


Multicomponent Molding Services Key to Company's Growth

Susan Wallace

The Tech Group has acquired the Powerline all-electric injection molding machine from Ferromatik Milacron North America

The Tech Group (Phoenix;, an injection molder, is targeting its business efforts toward multicomponent molding. The company will soon take delivery of Ferromatik Milacron North America's first two-component, all-electric injection molding machine. The 330-tn Powerline will use standard and stack multicomponent, servodriven molds, built by The Tech Group, to provide an accurate, repeatable, hydraulics-free method to produce complex medical parts. 

According to the company, multicomponent molding offers a wide range of opportunities for molders looking to gain competitive advantage. It can eliminate assembly or postmolding operations, shorten processing time, increase functionality, reduce costs, and enable greater automation efficiencies.
"We've been quite successful building our microcomponent tooling business, and the molding side has grown steadily for us, even through the last couple of lean years," says Bill Gerard, vice president of engineering for The Tech Group. "We now have a business plan to go after in-mold assembly and multicomponent jobs, and the two-component Powerline is a key part of our 
technology platform."

He continues, "Rather than waiting for applications to come to us, which is what custom molders typically do, we're gathering the right technologies now to take our capability to a new level. We believe the combination of servodriven molds and machine will give us an important technology edge."

The 330-tn Powerline machine uses two reciprocating injection units and direct-connected, rack-and-pinion clamp drive for clean, quiet, and responsive operation. The injection units, which are arranged in an L shape, are rated at 8 oz maximum shot, and 34,800 psi maximum pressure for the primary, and 1.0 oz and 35,000 psi for the secondary. Initially, The Tech Group will use the machine for development. It will also be used for production work as manufacturing needs dictate.

The Tech Group has nine multicomponent machines in North America and 11 machines in Europe. The company's multicomponent business has grown 10% per year, and is up significantly in 2003, according to Gerard. He says, "We intend to push the multicomponent technology envelope in the United States with in-mold assembly and decorating."

The 330-tn Powerline uses two reciprocating injection units.

"We believe all-electric molding will be an even more valuable asset in multicomponent molding than it is in traditional single-shot molding," he notes.

The company makes about 25% of its molds and outsources the rest. They build the most complex tooling in-house, including multicomponent tools with capabilities licensed from Gram Technology. "Our in-house tool making strategy is to take on the molds that would be too risky or expensive for shops that rely on tooling as their sole source of income," says Gerard. The company's multicomponent molds typically use servomotors for mold action, rather than hydraulics, providing an all-electric process. 

"Few North American molders would invest in a machine like this to leapfrog the rest of the market and offer customers this kind of developmental platform," says Dale Werle, president of Ferromatik Milacron North America. "Fewer still can internally supply the tooling for those operations. It is especially encouraging to find a molder building its own servo-powered multicomponent tools, and we're now able to serve this market with new all-electric multicomponent machines, as well as retrofit secondary all-electric injection units."

Copyright ©2004 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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