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Blow molding: accuracy, reliability, innovations  #9(115), 2012

Blow molding equipment manufactured by the German company Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH, is applied worldwide in production of various hollow articles and is notable for high processability and reliability. The company’s Sales Director Jurgen Moitzheim tells in an interview to Plastics magazine how the company maintains its reputation, and also shares the company’s plans on the Russian market

 - Mr. Moitzheim, could you please describe the history of your company?
 - The Kautex company was founded in 1935 by Reinhold Hagen and originally presented just a galvanizing workshop. In 1949 Reinhold Hagen developed the first blow molding machine; in 1976 he sold the machinery part of his business to Krupp, and the company was entitled Krupp Kautex Maschinenbau. Later on all assets related to parts blowing, were separated into Kautex Werke, that is nowadays Kautex Textron – a completely independent company. Both companies however, are headquartered at the same street in Bonn, Germany. In 2000, Kautex Maschinenbau was sold to SIG, and in 2004 - acquired by a financial investor. Since 2006 it’s again partly owned by the company’s management after a buy-out.

 - What is the Kautex Maschinenbau position on the market of extrusion blow molding equipment today?
 - Currently, Kautex Maschinenbau is the market world leader in equipment for blow molding. The company is particularly successful in production of machines for manufacturing 6-layer coextruded plastic fuel tanks, with three of these huge machines already installed and running in Russia. The company is constantly evolving in the packaging sector. Besides equipment for blowing bottles, drums or IBC containers, on the Russian market Kautex Maschinenbau is particularly known by machines for manufacturing canisters. Major of the latter are the double station machines with up to 2x4 cavities. In the bottle sector the double station machines with up to 2x16 cavities are available.

 - What company’s equipment is the most demanded by processors? What are its competitive advantages?
 - Kautex offers customers complete (end-to-end) solutions, i.e. from initial idea to the finished product – and far beyond, Kautex Maschinenbau accompanies its customers and partners in all phases of the product life cycle. In close cooperation with the customer, Kautex Maschinenbau designs and manufactures products and machines, which exactly correspond to customer stated requirements. Through technologies of rapid prototyping and simulation, a prototype of the product is directly implemented without manual modeling and can be simulated and implemented directly in its use, so that the packaging meets all requirements precisely. Kautex Maschinenbau staff accompanies production process at the customer’s site after purchase. Each step of the procedure and production processes is continuously optimized in order to achieve smooth operations and improve efficiency and quality.

All blow molding machines of Kautex Maschinenbau are featured by high reliability. The customers give high praise to any blowing machine for packaging applications, be it a model of the KEB series, of the KLS long-stroke machines with up to 32 cavities or of extremely successful KCC series – compact, having good accessibility, highly flexible - versatility is just one of their outstanding features – systems, with an optimal quality-price ratio. In production sector of technical parts of various destination and containers of high capacity (up to 10,000 liters) the machines of the KBS series are of worth. They are widely used, say, in production of plastic fuel tanks. For molding of heavily convoluted three-dimensional tubular shapes – like fuel pipes or air ducts, Kautex Maschinenbau offers the so-called 3D machines – for instance, suction blow molding machines. What is more – the 3D blow molding technologies of Kautex Maschinenbau provide minimum flash production.

 - What can you say about the company’s innovative solutions in blow molding technologies?
 - Kautex tries to be constantly innovative in all fields. And our most valuable recent achievement here is the C3LS® technology.

In plastic fuel tanks, the permeation of hydrocarbons through tank’s walls is usually prevented by a special intermediate barrier layer within 6-layered coextruded wall polymer. However, if service openings or holes are subsequently created, the barrier layer is destroyed. On the other hand, statutory requirements are becoming more and more stringent – one can refer, e.g. to the US standards LEV III (Low Emission Vehicle) or PZEV (Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle). Many efforts are thus focused on integration of interior tank fittings – for fuel pump, valves or hoses, directly into the blow molding process.

As an alternative to known methods - twin-sheet (TSBM, NGFS), Ship-in-the-Bottle (SIB) or Tank Advanced Process Technology (TAPT), the experts of Kautex Maschinenbau have developed a new manufacturing method, called C3LS®. In C3LS® blow molding process the tubular parison is slit open in longitudinal direction at one point while it is being extruded and is unfolded. With the blow mold partly closed the components such as level indicator, anti-splash baffle, valves and venting conduits are introduced through the opening created in the parison into the interior of the pre-blown tank bladder.

Apart from lower costs of the blow mold, the new method results also in a more compact design of the machine. It can be combined with approved and reliable 6-layer extrusion head of Kautex and the known wall thickness control systems.

Another example of advanced solution is a quick mold exchange system, where just a shell containing cavity is being changed. The base structure of the mold with cooling system and all connections remains unchanged. Though quick change systems for water and air connection of base mold structure or conventional molds themselves, can also be offered/installed.

The company also offers systems for a quick change of extrusion die.

 - What are the application areas of Kautex Maschinenbau equipment?
 - Extrusion blow molding equipment of Kautex Maschinenbau is much in demand in packaging and automotive sectors, as well as in other areas – like toys production (e.g., kid’s garden houses), sporting goods (canoes, etc.), pipes for household appliances (dishwashers and washing machines). In principle, everywhere where production of plastic hollow parts is required.

Say, complete lines for production of cylinders for liquefied gas appeared to be very successful. First, cylinder billet is blow molded, then glass fiber is wound around billet to give the finished product strength that allows to use it as a gas cylinder (e.g., a field one). This method, having got the name Composite-4, is now approved for 24 and 33 liter LPG (liquified petroleum gas) bottles.

 - Please tell us about activities of your Russian representative office. What are the company’s plans to promote its products on the Russian market?
 - Our international sales and service network is now extended (since 2011, Dec) by offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg; Russian staff comprises 7 employees at these two locations. This action emphasizes that Russia and its neighbors are becoming core markets for Kautex Maschinenbau, and obviously serves for the benefit of customers in this region. Sergei Charikov, service technician, is ready to answer to all customer queries; spare parts will now be delivered quickly and without red tape. The role of Olga Bolotina, a longstanding team member, is now more important than ever for Kautex Maschinenbau – she’ll deal with our regular customers in St. Petersburg. We are also pleased to inaugurate as a head of our Moscow representative office Alexander Silin, an expert both in plastics engineering and marketing.

In order to promote our products on the Russian market Kautex Maschinenbau takes part in all major international exhibitions worldwide, such as Interplastica and Upakovka/UpakItalia annually held in Moscow. Besides, Kautex organizes on a yearly basis an Open House event at our main site in Bonn. All this is assisted by regular customer mailings, regarding products or company’s news.

Interviewed by Oxana Yarun

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