Wittmann concept cell runs on DC power

Oct. 14, 2022
The EcoPower direct-current IMM on display at K offers independence from power grid fluctuations, outages and shutdowns, while also saving on energy costs.

By Ron Shinn 

Putting solar panels on the factory roof sounds like a great idea, but before the electricity can be used by an injection molding machine (IMM), it must pass through inverters, transformers and high-voltage power lines.   

Wittmann Battenfeld has solved that problem. The Kottingbrunn, Austria-based company is presenting a concept at the K Show this month that connects an EcoPower direct-current (DC) IMM directly to power generated by a company’s own grid. 

“The biggest gain is independence from the external power grid,” President Michael Wittman said during a virtual press conference before the K Show. 

Wittmann has developed the system with its German customer, Wago, a connector and automation technology provider. They have jointly applied for patents. 

The system takes DC power from solar cells directly to a new EcoPower DC 180/750+ molding machine. A modified Wittmann WX 142 robot draws DC power directly from the molding machine’s intermediate DC circuit to complete the cell.    

Michael Wittmann estimated energy savings to be about 5 percent. He stressed that independence from power grid fluctuations, outages and shutdowns is more important. 

He also said that direct current is easy to store in conventional batteries, which helps handle current peaks. 

The EcoPower DC can be switched back to AC power if needed. There is also a feature for partial switchover to alternating current to accommodate auxiliaries such as temperature controllers, stand-alone conveyors or beside-the-press dryers. 

The IMM can actually be fitted with two power connections — DC power to run the press directly from the DC grid and AC power to run the auxiliaries. 

The press comes with Wittmann’s new B8X control system, which features a higher internal clock frequency that provides faster response times to sensor signals and ensuring high reproducibility of parts.  

Wittmann said the system could be available in North America as soon as companies build their own DC power-generation grids from solar panels or wind turbines. 

There is a greater urgency for this product in Europe, where electricity costs have doubled since January due to the Russia-Ukraine war and governments have warned power instability might be ahead.  

Wittmann said even complete power failures can be bridged within a DC grid for a period of time. This means that production can be maintained at locations with an unstable electricity supply. 

In terms of corporate revenue for 2022, Wittmann told the press conference that he expects sales of $352 million to $371 million, about the same as 2021. Difficulty in obtaining materials and parts will impact sales but not until the end of the first quarter of 2023 because Wittmann still has a big backlog of orders. He declined to give a sales prediction for 2023. 

The company has 2,300 employees worldwide.

Ron Shinn, editor 

[email protected]


Wittmann USA Inc., Torrington, Conn., 860-496-9603, www.wittmann-group.com 

About the Author

Ron Shinn | Editor

Editor Ron Shinn is a co-founder of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing and has been covering the plastics industry for more than 35 years. He leads the editorial team, directs coverage and sets the editorial calendar. He also writes features, including the Talking Points column and On the Factory Floor, and covers recycling and sustainability for PMM and Plastics Recycling.