The Zhafir Zeres F, a high-speed electric injection molding machine with clamping forces ranging from 169 to 506 tons, is designed for speed and flexibility on a budget, according to Absolute Haitian, the exclusive distributor of Haitian and Zhafir presses in the U.S. and Canada.
“As you move into the higher-speed machines, a lot of times there is such an enormous jump in pricing that it is difficult for businesses moving into the higher-performance or thinner-wall applications,” said Mike Ortolano, CTO and a co-owner of Absolute Haitian. “They may not have the workload to keep these machines busy on a full-time basis. We are looking to support customers who are migrating into thinner-wall applications or faster-cycling applications that want a machine that will provide some flexibility.”
Molding thin-walled products requires fast injection speeds. If product walls are thin and the injection speed too slow, the molten plastic could lose heat and start to solidify before it flows to all parts of the mold cavity, he said. With injection speeds of up to 350mm per second, the Zeres F is faster than a standard molding machine but is not designed to be the fastest machine on the market.
“We are aiming to get near the capability of some of the fastest machines on the market without requiring customers to make a large capital investment,” Ortolano said. “This machine will be interesting for customers that see a trend for lightweighting components they are molding with wall thicknesses getting thinner and thinner. It gives them a path to support that trend without making a full leap to machinery that is in a much higher price category.”
The company wants to offer a new price point in the market for customers to evaluate.
“The Zhafir Zeres F machine is designed to get you 95 percent of the way to a full high-performance machine but at 70 percent of the price tag,” Ortolano said. “That is where we fit into the market.”
The Zeres F is equipped with an integrated hydraulic system to handle cores, ejectors, optional valve gates and injection carriage movement, which eliminates the need for a separate hydraulic power unit that takes up space and increases machine costs. Other cost advantages are achieved through design and scale, he said.
“To achieve faster speeds, Haitian is sizing the servo motor and the transmission elements — the belts and ball screw — for performance rather than equipping the machine with a hydraulic system with an accumulator, which is used for the fastest of injection requirements,” Ortolano said. “You can do a lot of things to shift the performance of a machine from a general-purpose machine up to a high-performance machine through design optimization. On higher-performance machines, the platens tend to have smaller nozzle penetration holes, so they are stronger and stiffer and deflect less. The motor sizing is larger. The mechanisms that drive the screw forward are designed with optimized pitches and gear-reduction ratios. A lot of things go into design optimization. Compared to machines with hydraulic accumulators, the Zeres F is more energy efficient.”
Haitian enjoys manufacturing economies of scale, according to Ortolano.
“The benefit that Haitian has is their sheer production volumes,” he said. “Whether you are manufacturing high-performance machines or general-purpose machines, there are many components on the machine platform that are common. Haitian has a tremendous efficiency of scale in those components. Purchasing capacity, negotiating with suppliers, there are a lot of benefits to scale. Even though the Zeres F is pushing into the higher-performance range, they still have opportunities associated with scale.”
Most injection molders don’t want to use a more expensive high-speed injection molding machine for general molding.
“You can do basic molding on a high-performance machine, but the cost basis for the machine is generally too high for customers to do that sort of work profitably. It’s like buying a Formula One car to use as a taxi,” Ortolano said. “This machine will allow molders to bridge the gap, to expand their basic molding capability and let them do thin-wall parts and fast cycling. It can be used for general-purpose molding and more.”
The Zeres F is equipped with a high-performance, abrasion-resistant screw and barrel with a 25:1 L:D ratio. It is designed to mold a variety of materials including polyolefin, PP or PE.
“Its likely applications are high-speed, thin-wall products,” Ortolano said. “Packaging, medical work or laboratory work that is relatively thin-walled. A lot of those tend to be high-volume applications.”
The Zeres F also includes linear rails for precise injection movement and for clamp movement to support heavy stack molds; generous mold space; and a double cylinder injection carriage with programmable nozzle contact force.
Haitian launched its Zeres line, which features electric machines with integrated hydraulics, in 2015 with what the company marketed as an affordable electric machine. The Zeres F and the Zeres III were introduced at K 2019. The Zeres III, which will replace the original Zeres, will be available in the U.S. and Canada later this year.
“The Zeres F is a variant of the Zeres III that has been customized for thinner-walled products with higher L:D injection units that are ideal for polyolefins. The injection rates of the Zeres F are faster depending on the model by a minimum of 50mm per second and some by over 100mm per second. The dry cycle time also is slightly reduced on the Zeres F by about one-tenth of a second.”
A Zeres F on display at K 2019 made lids for packaging in a four-cavity mold with high-speed in-mold labeling.
Bruce Adams, senior staff reporter
Absolute Haitian, Worcester, Mass., 508-459-5372, www.absolutehaitian.com